How Service Businesses Can Meet Post-Covid Customer Expectations

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The tone of consumer behavior has shifted in the wake of Covid-19. Not only has it unearthed vulnerabilities in the global supply chain — causing frustration for consumers worldwide — it has changed the way consumers think about the products and services they purchase and book.

In the field service industry, now more than ever, consumers expect that safety is a top priority, especially with renewed concerns from the delta variant in certain geographies. We are also seeing increasingly high expectations for transparency, accountability, and thoughtful communication. Simply, consumers want easy, reliable, and fast service with minimal hassle.

Likely during the last 18-months, your service company adopted solutions to accelerate digital transformation in some form or another. Be it on-demand scheduling via a mobile app, team communication, or payments, your business has probably been challenged to embrace a new process. With digital transformation in mind, how can you ensure that you continue to fulfill customer expectations for seamless, on-demand experiences without putting too much strain on your back-office staff and technicians? The answer may be simpler than you think.

Seek Out Customer Pain Points

The first step in knowing whether or not you are meeting your customer’s expectations is to understand where the friction occurs in your business process. Do your customers experience longer than normal wait times in your service queue? How timely are your technicians (and are delays and arrival progress communicated in real time)? How satisfied are your customers with your process overall?

By collecting survey data after each customer interaction, you can begin to understand where your process needs to be improved. Unhappy customers will not be afraid to tell you (or the entire Internet) where their frustrations lie.

Furthermore, work to ensure that your team is on the same page. A lack of communication internally could mean your company’s time is being wasted, leading to a drop in productivity and ultimately revenue. If your customer’s experience is lessened because your team fails to communicate, you risk losing a possible referral. Spend time to build the right communication infrastructure for your field service team.

As you scale and navigate heightened expectations, welcome feedback and adjust as you go. The customer experience is rarely perfect right out of the gate, so optimize the process step-by-step — starting with what you have identified to be most important for your patrons.

Responding to an Increase in Demand

Depending on your industry, the demand for your services may have spiked during lockdown in March 2020 and continued to grow into 2021. Particularly if your organization offered residential or commercial cleaning services for example, you may have felt challenged to meet increased demand. If your services are highly sought after, there are a few things you can do to maintain the quality of your business.

To improve the customer experience, set expectations upfront. Let your customers know if they might expect service delays due to problems outside your control and communicate a plan to resolve the issue. Provide a way for them to communicate with the service technician in the same way an Uber customer can text with drivers the moment a ride is booked.

Continue to monitor the experience your customers have at each touchpoint in your service process. Do you know how long an average customer experience is? Consider how it compares to your competitors and look for areas of improvement that could expedite wait times.

Post-pandemic, client referrals will be critical to the growth of your business. Consumers trust their friends and neighbors to recommend a service provider — particularly so if the interaction was thoughtful and met expectations. As your business navigates this changing environment, consider what ways you could leverage positive feedback and benefit from positive word of mouth marketing. Consumer trust will continue to be a pillar of success in 2021 and beyond.

Address Safety Upfront

As Covid-19 cases rise, health and safety may ascend to the top of consumer priority lists once again. By now, your company has undoubtedly implemented extensive safety measures, especially if you are in a service industry where you enter other people’s homes such as cleaning, plumbing, internet service, HVAC, etc. To earn consumer trust, make your safety plan publicly available. Share it on your website and send it to your customers prior to each job. Not only are you keeping your team safe, but you also let your customers know that they are the priority.

Beyond communicating your plan to your customers, make sure that your team, both in-office and in the field, are complying with the standards you’ve set. Service leaders understand that making health and safety a priority is not likely to go away in the future, but will become a mainstay of customer service.

Focus on the Quality of Your Digital Experience

Digital is here to stay. I encourage you not to put your digital experience on the back burner in the hope that your business will return to exactly the way it once operated. Instead, allocate resources to improve your customer’s experience across all channels all the way from booking to paying the invoice.

How can you shape your organization’s digital presence so that you can both win and retain customers? At a minimum, your website serves as a place to showcase your business and highlight customer testimonials. However, there is also ample opportunity to take the customer experience further with personalized marketing, loyalty programs and even gift cards. Time spent augmenting your digital presence now will bring fruitful returns as consumer attitudes continue to shift post-Covid.

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