Picture the following scenario if you want to understand why you should be more customer service oriented:
You’ve hired someone to come and build you a new tool shed. Their website looked alright, not the best, and they had an average of 3 stars on their Google rating, but you’ve decided to take a chance because they’re local. You do the phone dance for a couple of days until you manage to get a confirmation for when the builders will come down but you never get as much as an email or a text message afterwards.
This makes you nervous. You’re already unconvinced they’ll show up and, when the day does come around, they’re about an hour or two late anyway. Again, no advance warning.
You’re not in an argumentative mood so you let them be and enjoy the fact that you should have a new shed by sundown. Except, the builders fiddle around and tell you that they don’t have all the tools for the type of construction you want so they’ll have to go back to the office.
Also, you’ll need a different kind of hinge for the shelves you want to mount, as well as some different workbench options; the office will come back with an estimate. This is frustrating, but you begrudgingly agree. The techs get back to their truck and drive away.
Over the next couple of days, you receive an obscenely overpriced estimate in the mail, then a slightly less obscene one, and finally an acceptable price. You call them back and manage to get another day booked in.
Now, you’re a pretty unhappy camper at this point and for good reason, but when the techs come down again, they have everything and they manage to finish the job on the same day. The shed comes out so nicely that you’re willing to overlook the fact that they helped themselves to all your iced tea.
The number one question, now: would you hire them again? The answer is, most likely, no. Additionally, you’d go back and make sure to leave a 3-star review too. It all makes sense: it’s not that the quality of their work was poor – on the contrary – but that their customer service was abysmal. Sure, you were paying to have a new shed built and that’s what you got, but you certainly weren’t paying to be strung around for weeks and then fleeced for a new hinge.
The point of this little anecdote is to help you understand the customer’s position and how the experience is worth just as much as the quality of the work and definitely more than the price. Why is it so important for trades businesses like yours to be customer service oriented? Well, there are at least 5 reasons:
1. Customer experience matters more than price.
According to research, customer satisfaction can outrank price as the key decision factor. It’s how a lot of businesses have managed to thrive in the past few years without having to offer discounts or the lowest overall price. Think about people who pay for Amazon Prime or Next-day delivery. These are popular options simply because customers trust them to, well, deliver and they don’t mind paying a little extra for the convenience and satisfaction.
When you create a consistently positive customer experience, buyers walk away after purchasing your solution feeling good about their decision. This triggers a causation that will work to the benefit of both you and your customers. The customer found a solution to their pain point, and you, the business, not only made a sale, but also served your purpose of resolving their problem.
This will allow you to set prices according to your needs rather than depend on what the competition is charging. Not to mention, the good reviews those satisfied customers will leave on your page will work in your favor to build trust with prospects you haven’t even interacted with yet.
2. The experience is what customers remember.
We alluded to this in the anecdote above but, simply put, customers remember the experience more than the end result because they expected their issue to be solved all along. If you bought a shirt and the sales assistant was incredibly nice and helpful, chances are you’ll remember them later down the line when you need a jacket too, even if the shirt was just a shirt and didn’t stand out at all.
Considering how much competition tradesmen have these days, getting the job done is the bare minimum and no customer will be impressed with that.
Jake Gibson, a field service business growth expert and founder of Phyxter, agrees that many customers can’t even tell when an installation is just ok versus when it’s exceptional, but they can definitely remember a company that went the extra mile for their peace of mind. That extra mile doesn’t have to be some costly loyalty scheme, where you’re obliged to discount services you can’t really afford to discount. Oftentimes, it simply means making things easier, like:
Offering online booking requests in case a customer contacts you outside office hours
Email and text message notifications to update customers on the progress of their appointment
Offering on-the-spot estimates and accepting digital signatures
Asking for their feedback after the service is done
3. Loyal customers are cheaper.
While the specific buyer doesn’t impact the revenue generated from each product sold, the cost of acquiring new customers is significantly higher than that of retaining new ones. This means it’s more cost-effective for your business to have repeat buyers than putting time and money towards gaining new business. Additionally, these are customers who are already familiar with your name and know you’re not only able to do a good plumbing job or HVAC install, but also offer a remarkable experience while at it.
With a customer relationship management (CRM) system, you can keep in touch with them and run advocacy schemes like service plans (which means reliable recurring income for you) or affiliate benefits if they recommend you to a friend.
They won’t hesitate to do the latter, especially when they trust that their friend will be satisfied and they’ll benefit from it too. This means that you stand to gain new customers at little to no cost, by simply sending an email to the right people, at the right time.
4. Returning customers spend more than new customers.
In addition to the previous point, returning customers are not only cheaper to acquire (to the tune of up to 5 times cheaper) but they also tend to spend more than new customers. It makes sense, doesn’t it? They already know you’re good at what you do and you make the whole journey a positive experience, so why wouldn’t they trust you with more work the second or third time around?
Your business plan should take this into account and build on a strategy that aims to get them coming back every time. These are considered recurring service calls and they’re an excellent way to earn reliable recurring income. Part of it, of course, is the quality of your work and customer service – no one would rehire an electrical company that did a patch job, for example – but part of it is also your sales strategy and how you keep yourself relevant in the customer’s mind.
5. Loyal customers improve your day to day work life.
Sometimes, it’s the simple things, isn’t it? They don’t call it a customer relationship for nothing and the trust associated with a relationship needs to be mutual. Same as the customer trusts you to do a great job and offer a smooth experience, you trust them to pay their invoice on time and be responsible about their appointment, as well as be respectful to your employees.
Loyal customers are, naturally, good customers and that makes life easier for you and for your technicians who have to interact in person with them. Work gets easier when there’s a smiling face and a cup of coffee waiting for them after a tough job. Being customer service oriented helps you gain more clients like these and reduces the risk of encountering difficult ones.
What can I do to personalize CX and have a more customer service oriented business?
One important thing to highlight is that returning customers, especially big value ones, expect you to remember them even years down the line. After all, they remembered you. However, that can be a bit tricky if you deal with dozens of customers each month or even week. That’s where a good database comes into play, as well as personalized touches such as:
Addressing customers by name in your emails. “Dear Michael” will always make people more forthcoming than “Hello, customer”
Keeping customers in the loop at all times with automated notifications
Sending customers service reminders right in time to book rather than expect them to remember and contact you
All in all, these touches are what makes a customer service oriented business tick. If you’d like to turn them into a “To Do List”, click below to see even more ideas, all in an easy to print infographic!
Hi! I'm Cristina Maria
And I want to bring next-level strategies to the field service industry. When I'm not working on the best tips to grow your business, I'm on the lookout for a sci-fi novel to beat The Foundation.