A Commusoft client recently emailed us asking how he could "take his business to the next level" and start charging premium prices.
Our response? A four-post series about how to attract and serve high-end customers.
- In the first post, we gave an overview of premium product positioning.
- The second post addressed how to choose the products and services that will attract upscale customers.
Once you have high-end products and way-beyond-the-usual service agreements, it's time to work on the next aspect of your business transformation: Offering the kind of excellent customer service people will be happy to pay more for. (You might even call it extreme customer service!)
Bonus: If you prefer audio, we have a podcast version of this post. You can either listen to it right here on this page, or download it to listen to on the device of your choice. Listen now!
How can I offer high-end customer service?
Here are the steps to attracting luxury customers to your plumbing and heating, HVAC, electrical, fire and security, or property management business:
- Don't do jobs...build relationships instead. Look beyond the transactional to create personal connections with your customers.
- Overpromise and overdeliver. Offer to do what it takes to please the customer—then do it.
- Create a communication workflow. Send service reminders, text the customer when your engineer's on the way, and create other automated systems that make life easy for the customer.
- Pay attention to detail. Paying attention to seemingly small details like branded booties for your engineers and thank-you gifts can tip you into "premium" territory.
Read on for more details.
Don't do jobs...build relationships.
Your engineer did the job and you got paid. Transaction complete. Everyone's happy. Next!
That's perfectly acceptable for many customers, but if you want to give the above-and-beyond type of customer service that attracts a higher-end clientele, you need to go beyond the transactional and build a solid, loyal relationship with your customers.
'In some areas all you've got to do is turn up, which is not great,' says Justin Dring, Senior Consultant at Perfect Sense Energy in Manchester. 'But in other areas, you have to have more of a connection with the client. It's trying to be relational. It's trying to turn from being a contract—you pay me, I do this—to having the customer feel a relationship with you.'
To quote from our article on how to turn your field service engineers into customer service pros:
'Connection is when the engineer meets the client and introduces himself and even engages in some light chit-chat. At the end of the project, the engineer continues the connection by showing the customer the notes on the project, offering his personal business card, and writing down the case number in case the customer needs to contact the company about the project.'
Think about ways you can personally connect with your customers to deliver excellent customer service. For example:
- Follow up with the customer after each job.
- Respond quickly and with empathy when the customer calls with a problem.
- Ask about their lives: When a customer calls, ask how their kids are, how that marathon went, or how the new job's going.
- Ask for the customer's opinions with customer satisfaction surveys.
- Give shout-outs to your customers on your website, in your newsletter, or on social media when they have good news—like when they win an award, have a baby, or earn a college degree.
If we had to sum up this piece of advice in just one sentence, it would be this: Treat your valued customers like they're your favourite people.
Overpromise and overdeliver.
You've always heard that you should underpromise and overdeliver. This means, for example, that you advertise that you'll return all calls in an hour, and then you actually set a goal to return calls in 30 minutes.
If you want to attract upscale customers, though, you'll want to overpromise and overdeliver. That means figuring out what it would take to thrill the upscale customer, making that part of your branding (which we'll talk about next week), and making good on that promise.
Rick Barerra, owner of Rick Barerra and Associates and author of Overpromise and Overdeliver: The Secrets of Unshakable Customer Loyalty, offers ten great examples of overpromises on his website. For example, watchmaker Patek Philippe's overpromise is, 'You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely take care of it for the next generation.'
Talk about setting the bar high! And with higher expectations come higher prices.
Consider: How can you translate this concept into your customer service? How can you promise customer service that goes beyond the usual, and how can you deliver on that promise?
Create systems that support the customer.
Which of these scenarios looks more upscale to your customer?
- A customer calls and your office manager has to shuffle through piles of paper to figure out who they are and what work you've done for them in the past.
- They schedule an appointment, and the customer waits in their home or business until the engineer shows up—because they're afraid they'll miss the engineer if they step out for a gallon of milk or a lunch break.
- The engineer does a great job on the service, and hands the customer a paper invoice with a scribbled price on it.
- Your engineer asks the customer to pay by cheque.
- Your engineer then leaves, job well done, and the customer never hears from you again.
- A customer calls and a window pops up on your office manager's screen saying who's calling and why.
- An appointment is scheduled. If the customer wants to go out for a coffee, no worries—they can follow your engineer's journey on their mobile device so they're confident they'll be back in time.
- Your engineer does a great job on the repair, takes a credit card payment right on site.
- The engineer zaps over a receipt via email, and leaves.
- You send the customer a follow-up note a week later to make sure everything is still going well and to request feedback, and send a service reminder at just the right time.
In the first scenario, your engineer has done an amazing job—but that's the bare minimum when it comes to meeting any customer's expectations, much less a high-end customer.
In the second scenario, you're using up-to-date tech tools to make the customer journey as smooth and pleasant as possible. The customer is spared any kind of inconvenience or annoyance, and you're helping them save time so they can get on with their day.
What makes the difference? Field service management software that offers all these features, letting you give your customers a premium experience.
Pay attention to detail.
Extreme customer service isn't just about big promises, advanced tech tools, and strong connections. Paying attention to the little details that a lot of field service businesses miss can be the strategy that tips you into the "high-end" category where people are happy to pay you more.
Check out these suggestions for seemingly small actions you can implement that will appeal to upscale customers. Some of these ideas are from Dave Poulos, Director of Marketing at Pinnacle Advisory Group.
- Have your engineers wear clean, branded uniforms.
- Give your engineers special booties for their shoes and towels for their work areas.
- Offer customers narrow service windows so they don't have to wait long.
- Give customers advice about other issues you spot in their home or business, free of charge.
- Have multiple channels of communication so customers can reach out to you in the way they prefer, from SMS to chatbot.
- Consider giving your customers giveaways and gifts to say thank you, to celebrate their birthday, or just because. For example, if you're working on installing new kitchen appliances for a customer, leave a box of chocolates with a thank-you note in the fridge.
A lot of "little detail" actions will help you build personal relationships with your customers as well. Brainstorm ideas with your staff, and you're sure to come up with plenty more "little" ideas for delighting your customers enough to justify higher prices.
Listen and learn.
Like you, we want to offer excellent customer service. That's why we also created an audio version of this article you can listen to right here, in your car, in your service vehicle, or on your morning walk. If you want to download the audio to play on the device of your choice, scroll past the video below for a download link.
Need help? These simple tutorials will show you how to add the MP3 to your iOS or Google devices.