What is Online Customer Service to your Field Service Business?

Rhys Pattimore
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Whether they be plumbing, electrical, HVAC, construction, and oh so many other types, it’s true that field service businesses can often be seen to share common folkways: an expectation that they operate in “traditional” or “old fashioned” ways… but is that accurate?

We certainly don’t think so.

With an array of convenient technologies and bespoke modern tools available these days—from IoT smart devices you install to help control heating, to intelligent software that automates your office tasks and keeps you organised—your business can carry out increasingly complex work (or limit time-consuming tasks) with ease. 

These tools help to make “traditional” work that much easier. That's not because robots are doing your servicing jobs, or boiler installations for you (we’re not there yet), but because they give you back time. You can then spend that time doing these jobs well, rather than absorbed in frustrating admin tasks.

So, join us for this week’s post as we explore what the relationship of online customer service is to your field service business and the reasons why it’s so important to attract today’s tech-savvy audiences to your side!

  1. Gain a fresh perspective by trying something new
  2. Empower your customers
  3. Give office staff (and engineers) the tools to succeed
  4. Exercise patience and utilise your time 

If you want to keep up with the competition (even if it seems like you’re leading), you need to adapt. Taking your customer service online (along with a bunch of other processes) can ensure you’re not leaving customers by the wayside and enable you to deliver excellent customer journeys.

1. Gain a fresh perspective by trying something new

We see field service businesses putting digital tools to good use all the time. In fact, we’d say the many industries are very much in the 21st Century. However, it's true (especially if your company has been around for a while) that some businesses can struggle to upgrade their old processes and adapt to the paperless way of operating.

That’s not a criticism though: change can be hard and it’s simply a fact that for larger businesses, changing the way you operate will be more difficult compared to a younger, or smaller business who’s already hit the ground running with up-to-date tools.

Getting out of old habits requires you work to change your mindset. This isn’t as radical as it might sound: it’s more about simply seeing that there’s a better way to do things than with pen and paper. We know that changing can be a big decision to make but the thing is, it’s not easy to accept change until you choose to try something new.

After all, how will you know if it works for you specifically?

Fortunately, being able to book a demo or (at the very least) see how the software works can make gaining this new perspective a stress-free process, that won't cost you a thing. 

watch a 20 min demo video of commusoft

We do it all the time as well!

Think of things like Netflix, Amazon, or even food delivery: usually your first month or first few tries are free, and that’s because these companies are so convinced you’ll enjoy the experience, that you’ll see the value to buy-in and benefit in the long-run. 

If you take the time to try out something new, then you may discover that the way you’ve been operating—even if it still works—may not actually be the most efficient way to function. Besides, you’re not going to be able to change anything if you stubbornly cling to the way you’ve always done things; not if your vision is to grow your business! 

However, it’s not just you that needs convincing, either... getting your team (whether it’s the tradies, engineers, or office staff you work with) on your side and helping them adapt to new solutions is essential if you're all going to succeed. 

Whether it’s invoicing, scheduling, or aiming to give customers peace of mind, there are all sorts of things you can do to streamline the work you do. When things are kept simple, clear, and delivered in a timely manner, everyone can enjoy the success.

graphic_service_reminder_laptop-01-2Learn more in our post:

Choosing “Simple” Job Management Software is More Complex Than You Think!

2. Empower your customers

Modern consumers appreciate convenience but also value the opportunity to make a choice on their own terms. No one wants to be sold to any more and few customers enjoy being pressured into a sale one. Overly invasive or aggressive sales techniques don’t work.

What this means for you, is investing in ways to empower and guide your customers to make decisions for themselves.

There are more than a few ways to do this with digital tools and solutions that will help to enhance the journeys they take when interacting with your business.

Whether you’re running a plumbing business or you specialise in electrical work, you still need to think about how customers interact with your business. Then think about how you want them to interact with your business and try to make those two journeys one and the same, with the destination being profit for you and satisfaction for the customer.

For one, you need a website to make it clear who you are, what services you provide, and how customers can interact with you. This might lead to:

  • Making use of an online booking form, so customers can send queries without having to call (calling is inconvenient at best of times, let alone at 11PM, on a Saturday)
  • Implementing a chatbot which helps answer questions with automated responses (it’s easier than you think!) 
  • Putting together an FAQ they could browse themselves

Simple website features like these give customers options on how they explore and understand your business. It’s in your interest to make these as simple and accessible as possible. Listing the ways they can communicate with you also makes sense:

  • Email
  • Phone
  • Social media
  • Local address so they could pop in or a discussion 

It’s entirely up to you, but ensuring you provide digital options—not just try to get them to call (not everyone likes to call these days, after all)—will put you in good stead.

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3. Give office staff (and engineers) the tools to succeed 

Adopting digital tools and coaching your office staff and engineers on how to use them properly is a fantastic way to elevate the service you provide.

We’re sure your engineers do a great deal to give your customers excellent service already: they’re courteous to customers, clean-up after themselves, and complete a job to the best of their ability, but what if they could do more? 

By taking your service online, you can give your staff the power to not just do more, but do it faster, more efficiently, and accurately as well.

Invoicing portal graphic_pillarpage-11

For example, what if your engineers were able to up-sell a customer on service and book in a new appointment, all whilst they're still at the customers home? Not only that, but when they finish a job, what if they could invoice on-site, and encourage the customer to leave feedback as well, rather than waiting days or (God forbid) weeks for the same thing to be completed.

At the same time, these tools can help you start you personal brand and show customers that you're a thought leader within your industry and deserve their trust. The experts at G2 have highlighted here a few ideas for launching a new product that you can easily adapt to new services. 

You can speed up the entire customer journey from start to finish, and have details sync up to your systems instantaneously. That means less admin, more time saved, and more interesting work being given the time it needs.

4. Exercise patience and utilise time

I may sound like I’m promising a lot—though it's true: there is a lot to gain by taking your business digital and going paperless—it is wise to take a moment to temper those expectations.

Getting the most out of any digital system so that you can implement, maintain, and use it properly will take both patience and time. After all, rushing will be just as bad as if you were still using pen and paper, especially if you end up getting overwhelmed because you've got too much work and too man inefficient processes in place.

For anyone with a larger business, it means there’ll be more people to train, more equipment to upgrade, more customers to notify, and all of this will mean investing both time and money. 

So: you need to make sure that you’re aware how changes can affect your staff and your customers and preparing appropriately. Exercise patience and use your time wisely.

Be optimistic as well though: the return on investment will be palpable.

If it weren’t, we’d surely have noticed an increasing number of people going back to pen and paper. But have we? The real answer speaks for itself...

The Takeaway

One way or another, "the times they are a-changin'" and traditional methods are becoming a thing of the past (stop me if I’m getting too philosophical).

However, it’s true that often, the times change for a reason. Whether it’s an emphasis on:

Perhaps it's a a combo of all the above, but it's important that businesses innovate, adapt, and improve.

To help you out, we’ve put together an awesome checklist that’s designed to get you thinking about the processes you have in place, particularly when it comes to customer relationship management. Take a look at how you can improve your services and—with a little extra insight—how software can take your field service business further.

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