Automation is a buzzword that has spread to every corner of the industry, particularly when it comes to field service. We’ve seen smart buildings and intelligent houses, as well as a growing request from customers for service companies to stay up-to-date with digital innovations. It’s difficult to deny the benefits of digitalization and any field service company that wants to stay on top of the market and the competition needs to ensure that their are systems updated. However, in the race for the most performant tools, many companies forget about their customer management strategy and rely on outdated methods.
Customer management automation refers to employing software solutions to manage your customer activity without any human intervention. This eliminates the need for repetitive tasks that keep your staff from dealing with more important, creative challenges. It can range from a simple automated newsletter to trying to get more positive reviews for your company through a scaled review strategy or nudging customers to move through the funnel. It can quickly get overwhelming if you start researching all the possibilities of CRM automation. But as with anything, it gets easier if you look in the right place. Embracing change is the easiest way to build and sustain customer focus in the field service industry. So we’ve put together a list of where to start from if you’re new to the concept:
1. Lead qualification
Gathering your leads in a database is vital if you want to build customer loyalty. By keeping in touch with them after the first service, you ensure that you have a list of everyone who knows of your business, is aware of the quality of your work, and will more likely than not employ you again. However, simply storing their contact in a database means you’re wasting a lot of their potential. Using an automated software to classify your leads according to their lifecycle stage will help you fine-tune your strategies when it comes to sending incentives or advertising. HubSpot CRM is a good example of a software that automatically tracks your leads’ progress. Depending on their actions, you can assign them a status. For example, a lead that has downloaded a piece of content like a guide would, generally speaking, be considered marketing qualified. This takes us to the next point:
2. Retention and up-selling
As a field service company, you have a big stake in customer retention. Service level agreements can provide a steady number of jobs which in turn guarantee that you can manage your schedule and finances easier. Not only that but by knowing which customers are engaged and happy, you can up-sell them premium services or products. A Bain &Company study found that increasing customer retention rates by 5% leads to a 25% increase in profits. Automating your lead qualification is the most important step towards a successful retention strategy. Knowing which customer to target with a particular type of content is key. No point in having a workflow that sends a welcome email to someone who converted already. And speaking of workflows…
3. Review strategy
Positive reviews influence customer behaviour to the extent that 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has a minimum of 4 stars as a rating. Therefore getting more positive reviews for your plumbing and heating business should be an integral part of your business plan. Scaling your already existing strategy can be achieved with the help of automation solutions. Sending individual emails to every customer after a job is completed is a repetitive task that can be easily overlooked by busy office managers. An email tool like MailChimp can support complex workflows where sending an invoice provides a trigger for a review request. The process can be edited to wait for a few days until the customer has had a chance to test your work or sending it immediately which is a great strategy if the invoiced sum proved to be lower than the estimate. A job management software can also automate your review strategy which might prove a simpler alternative to dedicated email platforms, as it’s designed to understand processes specific to the field service industry.
4. CRM and Advertising
Your customer database should influence every activity in your company. Advertising in particular has to work off of the information you already hold on your customers. Instead of always focusing on putting your business in front of new people, part of your budget can be dedicated to building customer loyalty. Using the aforementioned lead qualification process, you can upload the lists of MQLs and SQLs into your Facebook Custom Audience creator. Then, you can start designing ad content that is targeted specifically at certain stages of the customer lifecycle. Someone who already hired you to install a boiler will consider signing for a service agreement after seeing ads that mention how much they can save by having a contract like that in place. Many people don’t realize the potential of using Facebook Ads for plumbing and heating companies, thus giving you an opportunity to get ahead of the competition and become a top-of-mind choice for customers when they do decide to convert.
Implementing a chatbot can sound like a pointless n unusual investment for a field service company. You could thinkNo one would blame you if you thought that people are used to simply picking up the phone and calling a plumber when they have a leaky pipe. Truth of the matter is that the customer journey has changed greatly considerably under the effect of digitaliszation. Nowadays, many customers prefer to avoid calling as much as possible. Automating part of your customer service activities with the help of a chatbot can open you up for business to call-averse millennials. This, in turn, would save office admins the time they might spend on a straightforward booking which can then be invested in higher quality customer service for those with more complex requests or questions. Chatbots are by no means perfect but they can easily automate a series of simple actions like a customer wanting to book himself in by seeing a calendar or simply check the price of various services.
Overall, customer management automation is an opportunity for companies that know they want to grow. Whether you approach it by implementing a job management software to manage everything or choosing individual solutions for each process, the decision to make the most out of digital solutions is hardly one you’ll regret. With more time on their hands for creative tasks, you’ll have happier staff while your customers will judge you in a positive light as a business that knows how to stay up-to-date with their tools.