Don’t simply treat service reminders as a “tick the box” chore. If used correctly, they provide a great tool for retaining business, improving customer relations and even getting new business and referrals.
A service reminder is basically a message to inform customers of an upcoming service. It is also a necessity for landlords or letting agents who are under a legal obligation to obtain certain services and certificates. But it can be so much more if used correctly. Here are seven tips that will help turn an admin burden into a marketing opportunity.
1. When should I send a service reminder?
It is impossible to overestimate the importance of timeliness. If you are the first to inform customers of an upcoming service, you are far less likely to miss out on their business.
So you need to be systematic about reminding yourself well in advance of a service due date.
Service reminders need to be sent early to allow your customer to make a decision and get back to you. Just make sure that you have the availability to carry out the work.
The best time to send a service reminder depends on your business, but a good rule of thumb is to send out reminders around a month before they are due.
Send a reminder too early and the customer is likely to ignore it, and send it too late and the customer might give the job to someone else.
It is a good idea to establish a process to ensure you send reminders regularly, at the same time each month for example, to ensure that you don’t forget any.
2. What if the customer doesn’t respond?
You also need to have a follow-up process. If you have sent a service reminder and you don’t receive a timely reply, it is perfectly reasonable to follow up with a courtesy telephone call.
3. One size does not fit all!
It is a good idea to set up a couple of templates for service reminders to save time. You will need at least two templates: one for letting agents and landlords, and one for private customers.
- Letting agents and landlords will just need a concise reminder detailing all the tenant properties and required services. As these services are a legal requirement, this reminder is more of a notification rather than a sales pitch
- Private customers are not under the same legal obligations so their service reminders should be of a more advisory nature.
Use your template text to remind them of the benefits of regular annual services, while promoting your own business to allow them to make an informed decision.
4. Tone of voice
Don’t simply send the same information for every type of reminder. Minor adjustments to the wording you use in a service reminder can have an impact on how well and how quickly the customer responds.
It’s largely a matter of your tone of voice. You would not use the same words or tone when addressing an elderly private householder – who you might know personally – as you would when addressing the facilities manager at a five-star hotel.
A method that marketers often use (remember, a service reminder is also a marketing tool!) is to picture the customer while writing / editing the reminder.
That way you will communicate professionalism, attention to detail and friendliness in the right balance. And that’s the sort of personal customer care that gets you referrals.
It is a good idea to introduce a note of urgency in your service reminder, but do this with a lightness of touch.
For example, you can rely on warranties to help persuade private customers to service a boiler – since boiler manufacturers often provide warranties that only remain valid if the boiler receives an annual service.
If the customer is an owner-occupier, you might make an oblique reference to the fact that a regular service record is important when putting a property on the market. Likewise, you can mention that gas safety certificates might be required in the event of an insurance claim.
The words “peace of mind” often come in handy here!
6. Promotional offers
Remember, every contact with a customer is a potential sales opportunity. And that includes service reminders. Supposing the majority of your work place happens in the busy winter months. If so, you might want to offer a seasonal discount on summer boiler services.
Or, if your service record shows that a boiler is coming to the end of its warranty period or its service life, you might want to offer additional cover or a deal on a replacement boiler.
7. Choose the right format
Choosing the right format can be critically important in setting the right tone. There are essentially three options: letter, email or SMS. It is a good idea to ask what form of communication the customer would prefer in future when an engineer calls.
- SMS is the fastest method. But it is rather impersonal and some people (especially above a certain age) don’t like or don’t have smartphones
- Email is the cheapest method and also makes it easy for customers to reply, especially as many people use their smartphones to check and respond to email
- A letter is probably the best option for older clientele, and perhaps when dealing with a busy senior corporate customer
If you follow these guidelines and regard service reminders as an opportunity, not a chore, I’m sure you will see an impact on your bottom line!