If you're like many field service businesses, you're more concerned with the technical aspect of what you do than the softer side—delighting your customers on every step of their journey with your business, from the moment they land on your website to payment and beyond.
But the technical part is table stakes: Every field service business claims they do competent repairs and installations, and customers rightly expect it. Perfecting the rest of the customer journey is what will keep them coming back to you.
Through your customers' eyes
If you read our post Perfecting Your Customer Follow-Up, you did an imaginary walk-through of your business through the eyes of your customers, keeping an lookout for any satisfaction-sapping disasters that occur during the invoicing, payment, and follow-up portion of the customer experience.
It would be uncool of us to ask you to identify problems in your business—and not offer any solutions. That's why his post contains the fixes to the problems that came up on your imaginary customer journey.
Read on to find out how to perfect the the payment and follow-up process for customers of your electrical, HVAC, plumbing, or fire and security business.
Want to read this offline or share our solutions with your staff?
Download our full guide that contains all the problems we're tackling in our four-part series, plus the solutions.
Looking for the previous posts in this series?
Now, here are our pro tips on how to get customers to keep coming back.
Customer Touchpoint #7: Paying for service
The job is done and the customer is ready to pay. If these mistakes are putting the brakes on the payment process, not only does it take longer for you to get paid—it makes your customer's happiness levels plummet.
Problem: The invoicing process is clunky.
Solution: Paper forms and messy-looking invoices sent through the post are barriers to customer satisfaction. Here's how to simplify and speed up the process.
Reset your attitude.
If you're a SME, you may have a psychological barrier to asking for payment. '[Former employees who are now] business owners have to proactively chase payments—otherwise, they don’t get paid,' according to an article on the Xero site about streamlining your invoicing process. 'And for some people, this can be a difficult adjustment to make. Consciously, you know you’re owed the money. But actually asking for it can feel daunting and stressful.'
Remember, customers expect to pay you for your work—if yours don't, read this post on how to handle non-paying customers—and the faster and easier you make that process, the happier they'll be. Do you like biting your nails over an invoice that never arrives? Neither do your customers.
Get with the system.
Customers these days expect things to happen instantly—including signing off on a job and receiving an invoice. You'll find lots of apps that will let you make this happen, like Xero, FreeAgent, and Quickbooks.
Take it slow...but fast.
While you do want to speed up your invoicing, you also want to take care to get the information correct so you don't have to go back to the customer to fix invoice errors.
Take your time to get it right, and look for systems and apps that will eliminate the need to double-key data. The more times your office staff have to enter data, the more chance there is for mistakes!
Problem: Your business makes it difficult to pay.
Solution: Who enjoys paying by cheque? You have to dig your cheque book out of the junk drawer, write out the cheque, find an envelope and stamp, and remember to bring it to a post box.
By sticking to this outmoded way of accepting payments, you slow down the flow of money into your business—never a good idea—and annoy customers.
Instead, try one of the many free and inexpensive apps that let customers pay you on site or online—like the accounting systems we mentioned earlier or Stripe, SumUp, or WorldPay. Your payment process will look more professional, be more pleasant for the customer, and get money into your bank faster.
Customer Touchpoint #8: After the sale
If you think the job is done when the job is done, you're losing out on some easy ways to perfect the customer experience so they leave feeling great. Here's how to combat the most common problems that come up after payment is completed.
Problem: The customer never gets a request for feedback.
Solution: Smart field service businesses keep tabs on their customer satisfaction ratings so they know where they're doing well and where they need to make changes.
Once the customer has paid for service, there are various ways you can get valuable feedback from them:
- Send a simple email asking how the customer felt about the service they received.
- Ask the customer to rate your business on one of the popular review sites. Be sure to include a link to the site in your email to make it easier for the customer.
- Post on social media asking for reviews.
- Send out a customer satisfaction survey.
- Get your Net Promoter Score. A one-question survey and a simple calculation let you know how many fans vs. detractors your business has.
Asking customers for their feedback makes them feel important and shows you value their opinions; don't skip this easy way to improve the customer experience and get them to keep coming back.
Problem: You don't send customer follow-ups.
Solution: With the GDPR you can no longer send emails that customers didn't opt in to—but if they do agree to receive marketing communications from you, sending the occasional follow-up will show customers you care about them beyond the sale. (You can also follow up on social media like Twitter or Facebook.)
For example, you might:
- Tell customers about new services and promotions that are relevant to them.
- Let them know when you're closed for holidays or inclement weather.
- Send useful tips to help customers keep their equipment and appliances running perfectly.
- Send news that's relevant to your customers, such as product recalls.
Problem: You don't send service reminders.
Solution: As we mentioned in our post on helping your field service engineers deliver the best customer service, upselling customers—if you do it only when it's in their best interest—actually improves the customer experience.
It's the same with service reminders: Reminding customers when their annual service is due takes the burden off of them to remember and keeps their systems running smoothly. So if you're not sending service reminders, you're neglecting the final part of a positive customer experience.
Email marketing systems like MailChimp and Aweber will let you create groups and conditions where customers receive the right reminder at the right time. Another option is to ask your field service management software provider if they have any features that will do this for you.
The perfect path
If you've solved all the common customer experience problems we covered in this series, your customers are probably loving every second of working with your business.
Your customer communications are on point, your engineers are customer service pros, you're making your customers feel important—and you've set up the right tools and systems to make all this happen automatically.
Want to read offline, share this info with your staff, or keep all our valuable tips on your hard drive? Download our full guide, How to Create the Perfect Customer Experience—From First Call to Final Invoice (And Beyond), by clicking the banner below. You'll get everything you read here, plus the solutions to the rest of the customer experience problems we discuss in this four-part series.
You've created a delightful customer experience and will start seeing happier customers, better word of mouth, and more recurring revenue. Congratulations!