Offering the cheapest rate isn’t the only — or even the best — way to compete against other service businesses. It may earn you more customers, but you have to work more jobs to make up for the gap in rates.
There’s a better way: one in which you’re compensated fairly for your time, and you still stand out against the competition.
It’s simple: fine tune your customer service.
Now we know that you’re already offering quality service, but there are always improvements you can make that improve customer loyalty and overall satisfaction.
Aberdeen, a market research company, found that organizations with customer satisfaction rates of ninety percent or higher saw a 6.1 percent growth in service revenue and nearly four percent growth in overall revenue.
And who doesn’t want four percent more revenue every year?
Here’s what to do.
1. Hire Staff with People Skills
Quality customer service relies on friendly and efficient employees. Even if an employee is strong on the technical side, if they aren’t polite and professional in the field, their performance can damage your relationship with your customers.
While some customer service skills can be taught, you need a strong foundation to begin with. Mike Moore, Founder and Director of Training for Lennox Learning Solutions, recommends that field service companies “look for attitude, communication skills and work ethic, first” in new candidates. He goes on to explain that it’s easier to teach technical skills to willing employees than develop these other traits.
2. Treat Each Customer Like More than a Job
Creating a first-rate on-the-job experience is the most important thing you can do to strengthen your relationship with each customer. And this first-rate experience relies on the customer feeling heard.
Train your technicians on customer service strategies. This includes things like reading non-verbal clues about how a customer is feeling and using their name multiple times while on-the-job.
One of the most important customer service skills is active listening. Client service and leadership experts Molly and Meghan Fitzpatrick recommend paraphrasing back what a customer just said. Among the benefits, they believe this tactic “communicates our respect for the other person” and “ensures we have truly understood the issue at hand so we can contribute effectively to the solution.”
This active listening technique is just as important for prospective customers that have questions about your services. Treat each perspective uniquely to earn their business.
3. Respond Quickly to Customer Emails and Calls
Your technicians and office staff share the responsibility of quality customer service. While field employees listen to customers on-the-job, customer service staff manage customer questions over email, phone, and, increasingly over social media. With so many channels for customer questions to come in, it can be difficult to keep up within a timely manner. And yet, speed is more important than ever.
Also consider a live chat service to engage with customers in real-time. With live chat, you decrease the risk that a potential customer will find another business who responds faster.
Ideally, faster responses to customer emails and service requests also leads to quicker work requests. The real reason a customer is reaching out is because they have a problem. The faster this issue is resolved, the more satisfied they’ll be.
4. Keep Your Technicians Happy
Happy technicians are more likely to do good work. Ensure that your technicians are well-prepared for their jobs.
Providing continuing training opportunities doesn’t just help your technicians do more efficient work, it also builds up their confidence which leads to better customer service.
The other component of preparing technicians is having the right tools. A recent survey found that 56% of field-service companies believe mobile technology is critical to their performance. Mobile apps provide troubleshooting resources and enable your techs to easily reach out for help when they need it.
5. Make it Easy for Customers to Schedule
If prospects have a difficult time booking your service, they’ll go elsewhere. As customers spend increasingly more time online, 70% of consumers want to book services online rather than over a phone. Customers should be able to see your availability and book your services off your website, as well as other places your business is found, such as your Facebook page or Yelp profile.
Online booking will increase the number of service requests, as well as the number of satisfied returning customers. It also saves staff time, making it a win/win for employees and customers alike.
6. Encourage Satisfied Customers to Leave Reviews
Positive reviews and testimonials can increase the reach and reputation of your business.
73% of customersM are more likely to trust a local business that has positive reviews online, according to a study by BrightLocal. With 97% of customers searching for local businesses online, it’s imperative that your business maintains a positive presence across the web.
While it’s important to have testimonials on your business website, this isn’t the only place where reviews will show up. Folks will search sites like Google My Business, Angie’s List, Yelp, and other local business review sites to see what past customers have to say.
Want more ideas of sites like Angie's List? Check out our list of sites like Angie's List.
7. Respond to All Reviews
In the same study, BrightLocal found that 30% of customers found it very important for local businesses to respond to reviews. It’s important to respond to both positive and negative reviews so that customers know you’re listening.
Schedule time each week to look at places where your business is listed and respond to reviews. Better yet, take time in your business to consider how to incorporate their feedback into your company.
8. Reward Your Top Customers
When you have a fan, you want to keep them. Reward long-time and engaged customers with discounts or upgrades on their next service. You can also send them a handwritten letter just to let them know you appreciate their business.
Make sure to personalize these offers and messages. Russel Lolacher offers an attempt to personalize an email backfired. Russel was a fan of the company sending the email and was disappointed when he received an impersonal email from the company he valued. The email started out:
It’s not everyday that we reach out to users personally — but I just wanted to send you a note to let you know you’re one of Canva’s most active users!
Here’s Lolacher’s response: “When you say ‘reach out to users personally’ and then express it in a form letter that is anything but personal, you’re not showing you value me as an individual customer. ‘Hey there’ to you too.”
When customers feel valued, it nurtures their customer loyalty. Maintain this loyalty through personalized correspondence and offers.
9. Use Technology To Engage Customers
Between scheduling service calls, invoicing customers, managing your books, and everything else you do on a daily basis, adding new responsibilities may seem overwhelming. Thankfully, field service management (FSM) software can automate a lot of these tasks.
HouseCall Pro automatically sends customers emails before and after their service call. You can request feedback and help customers feel heard without any additional effort. On the day of service, your customers will receive updates about the arrival time of your technicians.
Text and email updates offer convenient real-time information to your customers, and automating these interactions keeps your customers happy without adding more to your plate.
Ultimately, standing out from other local businesses in your area boils down to a top-notch customer experience. This starts when someone finds your website for the first time and extends to when you follow up about their experience after they’ve paid for your quality service. Use a mix of on-the-job and automated customer service techniques to ensure that a satisfied customer not only returns for more work, but tells their friends about you.
Housecall Pro is rated the #1 software to run your HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Carpet Cleaning and other home service businesses. Our features allow you to schedule and dispatch jobs, get booked online, send invoice and receive payment within minutes whether if you are in the office or out in the field. This comprehensive software can help you grow revenue by 30% in one year and save up to 500 hours a year. Join all the other successful home service businesses who have already started and try Housecall Pro for 14 days free today.