The New Year is ahead of us and there are plenty of great things to look forward to!
Besides, there's no doubt we’ve all learnt a lot of lessons over the past year, but once a lesson has been grasped, I’m sure you’d agree it’s important to put it into action. Otherwise, what’s the point, right?
Whether it was overcoming the logistics of working from home, finding digital solutions to interact with your customers, or simply keeping the jobs ticking over, it’s encouraging to know that all the time, effort, and hard graft you put in will carry you into the future.
It’s been a journey, to say the least.
But journeys—as you’re likely well aware—have been a major theme for us here at Commusoft.
It’s been our intention to educate and empower field service companies to provide world-class customer journeys. That’s true whether you’re a gas, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, Fire & Security, Property Maintenance, Window Cleaning, Roofing, Appliance, or Machine Repair business… y’know, to name just a few. But as your customers continue to adapt to the new normal in their own way, it's important to ensure you preparing to improve their journeys in 2021, too!
So, as we say farewell (and good riddance) to 2020, let’s take a look at what customer journeys will mean in the year ahead:
- The times they are a-changin’
- Why you need to create world-class customer journeys
- How automation can revolutionise customer journeys
- What impact does customisation have on customer journeys?
- Should I empower customers through self-service?
1. The times they are a-changin’
I appreciate that hearing “things will keep changing” (even if I’m trying to evoke Bob Dylan’s harmonic tones with that subheading) might still not be music to your ears—you’ve seen enough change this past year alone to last a decade—but it’s important to consider the positive aspects that are likely sticking around.
Besides, if the pandemic has revealed anything, it’s that a lot of tasks were being done inefficiently, and not just in the case of field service professionals. Questions about working from home, organising meetings, and the all important work-life-balance that we’d like to enjoy have been brought to light.
Exactly how the journeys you create for your customers fits into this new narrative will make an impact, too. Some things will go back to normal in good time, but the changes you have made and continue to make will affect you and your team for the better.
Namely: creating convenience for your customers and being consistent with it.
After all, as Jason puts it:
"Good customer journeys are as much about consistency as they are anything else. If you send a confirmation email to a customer when they book most of the time, but, when you’re busy you forget, then you’re not providing a good journey—it may actually be negative, as repeat customers don't know whether they’re coming or going!
So, whether it’s improved communication, an emphasis on creating convenience, or encouraging stronger relationships, your customers’ expectations will have adapted and been shaped by what other companies have been doing as well.
As mentioned though, some things will change, but it's encouraging to remember people are resilient. Jason continues:
"The pandemic has forced people to become more innovative. In my 15+ years experiencing working for field service companies, it’s not often that they lead the way with technology. This year though, many of these same businesses have been pushing the boundaries—things like WhatsApp/Facetime calls to complete surveys have really shown that with a little innovation, it’s possible to provide world-class customer journeys, even in a pandemic!"
Let’s consider working remotely from home, as another example. A good chunk of the country has gotten used to the concept, but the ideal scenario down the line will probably see people wanting a balance of in-office and home-office days, rather than committing to one or the other. Variety, after all, is one way to combat fatigue and promote well-being.
Speaking personally for a moment, I’ve occasionally been tired of my bedroom doubling as an office, and I've missed going in to see my colleagues, but I’ve also enjoyed working from home because it saves me having to commute. Ultimately, while I’ve been able to remain productive, a balance between office and home life would be ideal, and I know I don’t just speak for myself in that regard.
Taking the time to think about such topics though will play an important role in how you approach managing your own team down the line. Remember: their attitude will impact your customers satisfaction too, so it will help to have these conversations so you’re making informed decisions later.
2. Why you need to create world-class customer journeys
Improving customer journeys is all about taking individual steps to provide a great experience for your customers. That means adjusting a number of touchpoints, both internally and externally, to ensure that when a customer interacts with you—be it browsing, purchasing, or even leaving reviews—that they’re actively having a great experience.
Understanding your customers is a long term pursuit, but the concept of customer journeys makes it a lot more feasible because it breaks them down into manageable chunks or individual journeys which you can then tackle and improve systematically.
Below, you can see a visual representation of the 6 essential journeys you can prioritise to optimise, and if you haven't already, you can click here above to take a look at each of them in more detail, and follow below to discover more about their potential!
The question of ‘why?’ is something we could (and we have!) dive into with great detail, but it largely comes down to customer satisfaction.
After all, think of your favourite brands, or the businesses you interact with personally because you know they deliver a service that’s efficient. From finance, to food, to flights (one day): if they treat you right, as their customer, then you’re more likely to stick around.
Nisha, Head of Client Operations at Commusoft, puts it like this:
"Customer journeys are all about taking practical steps to help your customer. Ask yourself, what motivates you to do what you do? How are you offering more value to your customers? How’re you helping them and showing you understand how they feel? It’s not just “job done, we got paid” — you need to want to go beyond that. Answer these questions by walking in the customer's shoes and you’ll go a long way.”
Ultimately, if customers trust your service and the work you do, then not only will you see an increase in profit, but you’ll likely welcome new customers, build stronger relationships, and be able to manage your business’ growth with increasing success.
📚 Learn more:
3. How automation can revolutionise customer journeys
Efficiency has always been a big deal—time is money, after all—but as we mentioned, providing an efficient service has been dramatically affected, and that’s especially true for service businesses who so often physically meet their customers and clients in the field.
Safety is a priority and, fortunately, the digital tools you’re using to manage your business play a significant role in streamlining customer journeys, especially when automation is introduced.
With a good dose of automation relieving your staff from administrative burdens, you can connect with customers quickly, easily, and accurately to provide the data they need, but in a way that aligns with the new normal.
When people can more safely spend time working physically closer together, it’s still going to be important to deliver your service efficiently, but that human element plays a big role too. Efficiency and a personal touch go hand in hand, and automation is one way to help improve both, looking to the years ahead as well!
It's particularly important if you’re trying to focus on taking care of more work, but with the same amount of resources you currently have. Automating tasks like email reminders, notifications, and even compiling invoices can shoulder the burden your admin team and engineers would otherwise feel. As a result, you can focus on increasing your output without increasing your costs.
Think of it this way: you run a plumbing business with 4 admins and 12 engineers who between them, manage to complete 240 jobs per week (an average of 4 jobs a day, per engineer).
If you want to increase the number of jobs each one does (let’s say, by an extra one per day) then you’re either going to have to find a way to buy them time...that’s where automation comes in.
Not only will it help engineers finish jobs faster by alleviating the on-field admin tasks they have, but your office team can benefit from other associated tools that let them optimise travel routes and organise appointments. This way, there’s less time spent driving, getting your engineers from A to B to C and so on, and more time for profitable jobs.
You can learn more about intelligent scheduling here and play our game!
4. What impact does customisation have on customer journeys?
After all, the difference between being able to answer the phone and, within moments, have the correct details in front of you, or being able to send personalised messages by email, are winning examples of providing a great customer journey. They instil confidence, create rapport, and mean everyone can focus on the tasks at hand more quickly.
So, having a system that allows you to take personalisation to a much deeper level will also empower you to truly create world-class customer journeys.
When thinking about how customer journeys have shaped field service businesses in this way, Commusoft's Sales Manager, Jack, sees it like this:
"A few years ago when people were purchasing Commusoft their requirements were very much looking for improvements in efficiency and performance in the office. Whilst still high up their list, companies are now much more focused on providing better customer experiences and journeys for their customers to follow. I think they understand this is just as important as sorting their own, internal requirements."
If you want to make 2021 the year of more impactful customer relationships, and build on those you’ve worked hard to maintain in 2020, then getting to grips with software that lets you nail personalised information is going to be essential.
You can learn more about how Commusoft can help by clicking here!
5. Should I empower customers through self-service?
I know we make the claim a lot that customers want and expect self-service (and for good reason), but that's because if you’re not already it’s something to implement where you can.
After all, as your business grows and you start earning more money, diversifying your team and hiring more people to do more complex work, it’s going to benefit you if you can find ways to ensure customers can take control of their own experiences along the way.
Customer portals are an excellent and straightforward way of letting customers have the power to safely and comfortably take care of admin for you. As a result, you shouldn’t need to chase them, or can at the very least reduce the burden.
Self-service means creating scenarios where customers can interact with your business freely but within boundaries you’re comfortable with. That’ll be different for every business, but if your software grows with you to allow such things to happen, then you’ll be all the better for it.
Along with some of the highlights of 2020 (well, at least in terms of our content) the knowledge above can certainly help to put you in good stead as you take the next steps into 2021 and beyond.
After all, customer journeys aren’t going anywhere, but they will continue to evolve and change, so it’s important you’re taking the right steps to keep yourself on track.
With that in mind, we hope all of this will help you continue to deliver the amazing service that your customers love you for. Of course, we also hope that you continue to grow in success and can go above and beyond to surprise not only your customers, but also yourself by creating world-class journeys that demonstrate value for years to come!
For now, all the best for the festive season, and we wish you a very happy New Year!