Improving isn’t always easy, is it? Whether you’re trying to crack on with a new hobby or attempting to develop positive habits: motivating yourself to make a change is challenging.
Fortunately, something that makes the whole process easier, is feedback.
When we have feedback, it lifts the curtain, giving us the opportunity to gain a fresh perspective and even the means to work out a plan to improve. It’s why we seek the advice of experts, talk to friends, colleagues, or—in the case of your business—speak to your customers about their experience.
Feedback can work wonders for your field service business, though it’s true that sometimes feedback might seem unfair, or even unwelcome. On the other hand, there’s no reason why that insight (good or bad) shouldn’t make you feel motivated, excited, and passionate about improving your services.
After all, the reality is that the people using your services (though this also applies to the engineers, tradesman, or office staff who work with you), know your service best. Asking for feedback is an acknowledgement that there’s room for improvement, but going about collecting that insight can be tricky. This is why you need an after-sales care solution.
Today, we’ll start with:
Then, we’ll take you through five ways collecting after-sales care feedback can be used to improve your field service business, whether Plumbing, HVAC, and more! With it, you can:
- Understand what customers need, not just what they want.
- Discover what customers don’t want (or need).
- Encourage staff to get invested in customers.
- Keep your customer data relevant and up-to-date.
- Learn to improve the services you provide.
Why an After-Sales Care Portal is Essential
Saying you want to improve your business is one thing, but working out how to do it is another, and trying to guess at what customers need isn’t going to get you anywhere.
The best way to work it out is to ask them.
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get,” or so the saying goes, and an after-sales care portal is a great way to help you to both ask and get. At a basic level, a portal is a simple webpage that lets consumers provide very straightforward feedback. But simple is good!
After all, we’re sure you’d agree that the best time to get feedback is sooner rather than later. Leave it too long and people can forget, which makes feedback less relevant. On top of that, with everyone so busy and easily distracted these days, it’s best not to dilly-dally, as delays make it more likely they’ll choose not to respond at all.
A portal, then, is a great solution.
Most customer interactions with businesses take place online these days and with 95% of British households having access to 1 or more mobile phones, it’s more likely that a notification by mobile phone or other smart device will get a response. Requesting feedback with a digital tool is a great way to tap into the modern market.
In addition, a digital process helps you to implement data without delay. Data can be recorded instantly into a database, rather than be kept on pieces of paper that might be forgotten, lost, or at the very least require additional administration time to make it useful.
This is also helped because your database can send out these feedback requests automatically at the end of a job, alongside with the invoice. How great is that?
It may be simple, but an after-sales care portal is a highly effective means of getting paperless feedback that’s useful. Not only do you get feedback faster, but you free up time that your staff would otherwise spend on an otherwise admin-heavy task.
As we’ll explore in more detail below, an after-sales care portal is just one great way to get feedback to improve your day-to-day processes, gain practical insight, go paperless, and craft the perfect customer journeys.
What feedback can teach you:
1. Understand what customers need, not just what they want.
There’s a distinct difference between a want and need.
Wants are often seen as indulgent, and while you might have the desire to try and please everyone but you need to resist that urge. It’s not wise and can actually cause you more harm than good to keep promising the world.
In addition, giving in to every demand can set a dangerous precedent (as many parents will know), especially if you then can’t meet the promises you’ve been making.
It’s best to pace yourself and prioritise what you know is actually important. This can help you understand what changes will have the most positive impact on your business. If you don't know what that is though, then you need to get started collecting feedback.
Truly understanding what a customer needs will require you to listen carefully. After all, every customer is different. But if you’re asking the right questions, you can find out if there are any common trends in their experiences.
It might be that you’re providing a great service: you get the job done and the customer is satisfied, but perhaps they’re leaving comments suggesting they’re frustrated by slow payment options, or perhaps they find booking appointments a bit laborious.
With these queries (and others), there are often subtle but impactful tweaks (thanks to a variety of digital portals) that you can make use of to prevent bigger issues, particularly if you’re keen to take your business digital with a paperless approach and improve the customer journey.
2. Discover what customers don’t want (or need).
It stands to reason that if you can find out what your customer’s needs are, you can work out the things that they don’t want (or need), as well.
This means you can stop pouring resources into a service that might not be very popular or as lucrative as you first thought.
Alternatively, if there’s a type of job you’re seeing more frequently, you can train your engineers better and they’ll know what to expect.
Ultimately, there’s no point insisting they gain a skill that’s not really necessary, especially if the feedback you've collected is telling you that's the case.
3. Encourage staff to get invested in customers.
Collecting feedback doesn’t need to start by immediately asking for reviews.
As mentioned, the after-sales care portal is a great way to collect feedback that you can respond to and act on internally. Often, and especially if you’ve not actively been asking for feedback on public websites like Checkatrade, it’s best to start by focusing on internal feedback.
You can start with your staff, ask them questions like:
- “What do you think we could do to improve the customer experience?”
- “What problems are you hearing most often about from our customers?”
- “What questions are customers asking most frequently?”
- “What do our customers like most about our services?”
If you’re then going to ask customers for their feedback, you can use the information you’ve collected from staff to ask more targeted, open questions, like the following:
“We’ve had a lot of queries that booking a job can be time-consuming. Would you agree? If so, what improvements might you like to see us make?”
When it comes to asking questions, sending emails is an efficient way to collect feedback and these types of more targeted feedback requests can be carried out using email integrations like MailChimp, which makes contacting customers (so long as you're following GDPR rules) en masse significantly easier.
It still allows you to personalise the experience as well, and as a quick suggestion, we’d recommend framing your request like you’re asking a favour. “We’d like your help to improve our services” is a great way to engage. You can even offer incentives, like discounts, if customers successfully share a positive review about your service online.
In this way, you can take steps to make the customer feel valued and as though they’re helping to impact your business (which they are).
4. Keep your customer data relevant and up-to-date.
Feedback is also another useful way to help you secure up to date customer data. If information is incorrect, it’s an opportunity for you to ask them to update their information so it’s accurate in your database.
Alternatively, you can also ensure that the data is relevant.
For example, say you carried out a feedback request a year ago, that doesn’t mean that what held true then, is still the case now, so it makes sense to carry out another check and make sure that the information you think you know about your customers is actually accurate.
5. Learn to improve the services you provide.
All in all, the details you learn from your customers can help you take steps toward implementing positive change and inspire you to grow in ways that benefit everyone.
If you discover that engineers perhaps aren’t being as tidy as you’d like them to be, you can tackle that problem. How about admin time? If you discover that customers are complaining about waiting too long to speak to some of your office staff, it could lead you to the decision to implement automated responses.
However, if you never ask customers, the only way to find these things out is the hard way: when they leave a 1-star review. Asking for feedback can help stem this problem though and it gives you the ability to nurture your business. From there, you can cultivate what’s good (and great) about the work you do, and highlight what might need improvement.
You might even consider creating an FAQ to answer common queries that don’t necessarily need someone to explain them in detail. Tweaks like this can save time and energy for everyone involved, all so that you can crack on with the more important tasks.
We talk a lot about revenue and the way that it—for obvious reasons—can help you to grow your business, but while money makes tangible sense, it’s no less important to focus on feedback.
After all, as we’ve seen, great feedback can be used to motivate your staff and lead them to provide awesome service experiences that the customer might then share with others, leading more people to benefit from the services you provide.
Without these insights, your business would exist in an echo chamber where you’d either keep up with the same old practices, telling yourself what a great job you’re doing or worse, ignore the comments you receive and waste time working on ideas that aren’t tailored toward what the customers need!
It’s true that Customer Relationship Management isn’t easy, but with our checklist, it can be just that little bit easier. We’ve listed 18 points to give you an idea of where you’re at and it’s a great way to see what you’re doing well; check out more with the free download.