When you're in business, you're really in it—to the point that you think about it when you wake up, and you're still thinking about it when you go to bed. You're always brainstorming new ways to bring in customers, new technologies that will make your employees more productive, and new services you can offer to generate more jobs.
This is all great—except that it creates a kind of myopia where you see everything in your business from an insider perspective.
If you're looking to bring in more customers, more jobs, and more profits, you have to look at your business from the customer's perspective.
That's what the customer journey is all about. 'Understanding the customer journey is about learning what customers experience from the moment they begin considering a purchase, and then working to make the journey toward buying a product or service as simple, clear, and efficient as possible', according to a McKinsey podcast called 'Why the customer experience matters'.
In this four-part series about the customer experience (also known as CX), we're going to chunk the customer journey down into four parts and dig deep into each one to help you figure out the common sticking points along the journey for field service businesses:
> Part 1: The Customer Calls
Part 2: Sending the Engineer
Part 3: The Repair/Installation
Part 4: After the Sale
This week, we're handling the initial customer communication, from the customer's first visit to your website to scheduling service with your office staff.
Of course, we won't leave you with a bunch of problems and no solutions. Each post will have a companion post where you can read the solutions to the customer experience issues you discover. Check out the solution post for Part 1.
Want a nice downloadable PDF with the solutions to all the problems a customer might encounter on their journey with your business? We've compiled all the companion posts into a beautiful guide you can grab for free here.
Pretend you're the customer.
To recognise what's impacting your business's customer experience, pretend you're a customer and that you know nothing about your business. What does each step of the journey look like from that perspective?
Here's the scenario: Your plumbing springs a leak—remember, you're the customer here—and you need to schedule service. While we're using a plumbing emergency as the example here, all the customer journey problems we'll outline are also relevant to HVAC, electrical, fire and security, and other field service business as well; just replace plumbing leak with broken boiler, faulty wiring, or whatever works for you.
After each possible problem along the customer journey, we've taken the liberty of speculating how the customer (that's you!) will be feeling about your business.
Keep in mind that while we're outlining the most common touchpoints and obstacles along the customer journey, you may discover even more as you go deeper into this experiment. (It's kind of like those science fiction movies where they talk about how one reality branches off into an infinite number of possible futures.)
Let's get started.
Customer Touchpoint #1: The website
You land on this never-before-seen-by-you website with the goal of scheduling service. Do you spot these common problems?
Problem: The business domain name doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
It seems like such a small thing, but a business's domain name is one of the first things a customer will see in an online search. URLs that have spammy endings like .biz and .cc or are difficult to pronounce get in the customer's way of building a trusting relationship with a business.
You feel: Worried about whether this company is trustworthy and whether they can handle the job.
Problem: The website isn't optimised for mobile.
Many customers these days will grab their mobile device when they need to schedule a service. Some issues that come up here are images that take forever to download, lengthy forms the customer has to fill out, and un-clickable phone numbers.
As we mentioned in our post on the top 5 complaints customers have about field service businesses, 85% of online customers are not willing to forgive a company for a bad mobile experience, and will search online for competitors that will offer them a better one.
You feel: Increasingly frustrated as you make your way around the site.
Problem: The navigation is confusing.
There are so many ways to create website navigation, it's easy to get it wrong. Drop down menus that contain submenus, multiple navigation menus, and navigation links with vague titles keep customers from having the very best experience on a website.
You feel: Your patience wearing thin.
Problem: You can't find the most important information.
Remember, you have a big leak in your house and you're desperate to call a plumber. If the most basic information—like hours and a contact number—are hidden in the dark recesses of a website, would you keep looking or simply click on a different plumber's site?
You feel: Upset that you've gotten this far, decided to schedule service, and can't find that final piece of info you need.
Customer Touchpoint #2: The office staff
Okay, so you've made it through the website and are ready to schedule service. What happens next? Keep an eye out for these customer-repelling problems.
Problem: There are few contact options.
Not everyone wants to speak directly with office staff. You'd love to be able to text for service or schedule service directly from the website.
You feel: Irritation that you can't schedule service in the way that's most convenient for you.
Problem: You get stuck in voicemail jail.
No one experiencing a plumbing emergency wants to 'Press 1 for our hours' and 'Press 2 for a list of our services'—and then mash the 0 button repeatedly in a vain attempt to reach a live human.
You feel: Rising anger as you listen to the long and irrelevant options.
Problem: It takes forever to get a call (or email) back.
Emergency or not, when you call for service you generally want it to happen pretty quickly. Sadly, that doesn't happen here.
You feel: Anxious that you may not hear back at all.
Problem: The office staff don't know who you are.
For the sake of this example, let's pretend you're a current customer. Someone from the office staff picks up the phone—or, if you left a voicemail, finally calls you back—and they seem to have no idea who you are, what equipment or appliances you have, or your job history. That means you need to waste time explaining things the office staff should already know.
You feel: About to lose it. You're wasting time when an engineer could be heading to your house right now!
Problem: The office staff are disorganised.
The office staff may have trouble scheduling the service due to the disorganised mess of paper forms and notes they've cobbled together as a scheduling system.
You feel: Once again, worried that this business may not be up to the job.
You've made it through the first part of the customer journey. If you've run across any of these bumps in the road, check out our companion post with the solutions.
Even better, you can download our full PDF with solutions to the problems your customers might experience anywhere along the customer journey by clicking the banner below.
Next week we'll tackle the portion of the customer journey where you send an engineer to the customer's home or business.