Exceeding Customer Expectations in the Digital Age

Guest Post by FieldPulse CEO and Founder, Gabriel Pinchev

Building your contracting business takes a tremendous amount of effort. It requires three things: finding and selling to new customers, delivering great service, and managing everything behind the scenes. For each area, focusing on the customer experience throughout their lifecycle (or customer journey) can bring significant returns.

The customer lifecycle is the journey a customer goes through in deciding to buy a product or service. For example, if Sally needs her home painted, she starts with an idea of what she wants. She’ll spend some time on the internet researching then talk with friends. She finds Professional Painting Co. and contacts them for a quote, either on the phone or a contact form on the company’s website. Sally accepts the quote and the service is rendered. Afterward, she has an opinion on the service and shares her perspective with a friend and posts an online review. All of this is the customer lifecycle.

In a Forbes article on revisiting the customer journey, the author points out that there are many points where the company has little control. Instead, the company’s job is to satisfy the customer to the point that they become an advocate. In a world of social media, having digital advocates help spread the word about your company is priceless.

The key to growing a business in the digital age is exceeding customer expectations.

But what are those expectations, and how can you use technology to achieve this?

First Contact

Before your future customer even reaches out, they’ve spent time learning about you. Today, that usually means an online search or asking friends and social media groups for a recommendation. Because of this, you want customers that are not only happy with you, but that are willing to promote you. All of this starts at the first point of contact.

When a prospective customer reaches out to you, they’ve already made up their mind that you’re worth spending time talking to. They’ve done their research. So now it’s important to give them the exact experience they’re seeking.

Whether your first point of contact is from your website “Contact Us” form or a phone call, this is your chance to make the right first impression. According to Consumer Reports, 72% of callers who reach an automated answer will hang up without leaving a message – and potentially call a competitor. If you don’t respond quickly, you lose the opportunity. Today, people are looking for instant gratification. Answering the call or responding to the email right away is the first step.

Build Rapport from the Start

Throughout the sales process, it’s important to build a real relationship with your customer. Remember the Golden Rule – treating customers like you would want to be treated goes a long way.

Even when you find ways to specialize your business and stand out from the crowd, your customer will almost always have another option. Keeping updated information about your customer in CRM (customer relationship management) software is a good place to start. FieldPulse is a CRM solution built specifically for contractors. With CRM software you can keep contact information together with appointments, past work records, photos/documents, and more.

By keeping track of your customer, and having quick access to all of their details, you’ll be able to provide better service. Having a team that’s connected to that information at all times will take you even further. The level of service you can provide will set you apart and help you win more business.

Wow Them While Delivering the Work

Your reputation is built on the quality of your work. Beyond the quality of the work, your customer has high expectations around communication. Keeping customers in the loop during every step is important. This means sending confirmations when booking, a reminder before the appointment, day of notifications, and follow up after the job is done.

 

Customer Communication

 

Being consistent is key. You’ll want to make sure you have a system in place to manage communications. That system can be contractor software (and that’s definitely recommended), but a standardized process that everyone on the team follows is a great place to start. Make sure that you’re staying in touch with your customers at every step.

Build an Ongoing Relationship

Once the work is complete, it’s time to build onto the relationship you’ve started. This part is so important because it’s what takes a happy customer and turns them into a promoter for your business.

Word of mouth, social media mentions, and reviews will bring you more business. Unfortunately, a happy customer doesn’t always volunteer to spread the word. Instead, you’ll want to follow up with them. Keep them on an email list. Call them two weeks later and ask them about the work that was done.

Tell your customers that you appreciate referrals and online reviews. They need to know how they can help you. When they do, you’d be amazed at how many more reviews and referrals you’ll get.

Parting Thoughts

Everyone has service expectations, and your customers are no different. By using the right kinds of technology and services to support how you do business, you’ll be able to exceed those expectations. Having someone answer the phone every time and having the tools to track and communicate with your customers (and your team!) are two great ways to exceed customer expectations.

 

About Gabriel Pinchev:

Gabriel is the founder and CEO of FieldPulse, a field service software that lets you run your entire contracting business from a single app. FieldPulse helps contractors go digital with tools to handle everything from customer management (CRM) and estimates/invoices, to scheduling and dispatching, team timesheets (and GPS location), and much more – available in the office or on-the-go.

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10 Phone Tips for Small Construction Businesses

Construction/Contractor Phone Tips

Between email, social media, and chat services, there are plenty of ways for your customers to reach your small construction business. But it may come as a surprise that 48% of new customers prefer a phone call as the first point of contact for a local business. Though many of us may shy away from phone calls in favor of text messages in our personal lives, professional phone etiquette remains a key skill for all small businesses.

In a recent survey, only 21% of customers reported being satisfied by phone interactions with constructions firms, making construction the sector of the survey with the most room for improvement.

As a construction business, it’s important to stay on top of new client relationships as well as existing projects with friendly and approachable phone etiquette. Whether you have a dedicated receptionist or answering your business phone is a shared responsibility, every time your phone rings it could be a new opportunity.

From the first ring until the end of the call, there are a few simple ways that your construction business can make every phone call count.

Set your company up for success

1. Make your phone number easy to find.

Make sure it’s visible on every page of your website—and that your website itself is more mobile-friendly by using click-to-call links for smartphone users. The goal is to make it as easy as possible to answer questions and break down their barriers to purchase.

2. Make it accessible.

Take it one step further by making sure that your phone number is easily accessible—and correct—wherever your business name appears, including online directories like Google Maps and Yelp. If you want potential customers to contact you, it’s important to make it as easy as possible!

3. Make it memorable.

You may find yourself asking, will people remember my phone number? These days, probably not. But there are steps you can take to make your number more memorable. Vanity numbers associate your business’s phone numbers with the alphabet that appears on our keypads. Think catchy soundbites that speak to your unique business, like 1-800-FLOWERS.

4. Be reachable.

Once you’re certain that your business number is easily accessible, make sure that there is a person ready to pick up and address caller needs. For every caller who goes to voicemail, your business risks losing a potential customer.

Make a great impression

1. Create a great greeting.

A customer-facing phone greeting is made up of three parts: a salutation, your company name, and an offer of assistance. While “hello” works when answering a personal call, try treating your customers to an enthusiastic greeting. Phrasing like “good morning” or “good afternoon” comes across as more friendly than a simple hello. When spread across time zones, “thank you for calling” always gets a customer call off to the right start! Follow your greeting by identifying your business by name. It assures callers that they’ve reached the right person and place! In fact, small construction businesses can go the extra mile by punctuating their telephone greeting with an offer of assistance. Smooth over any initial awkwardness by cutting to the chase—your customer’s needs! “How many I help you today?” or “How may I assist you?” are short, sweet phrases that put the focus on your customer’s reason for calling. In total, your business’s standard telephone greeting should sound something like “Good afternoon! ABC Construction. How may I help you today?” or “Thank you for calling ABC Construction. How may I assist you?” Whether you’re speaking to a potential or returning customer, a three-part telephone greeting will get every call off to the right start.

2. Be confident.

Confidence is key—especially when answering customers’ questions over the phone or putting them on hold. Infuse your voice with positivity and let your caller know you’re finding the best answer to their question. Simple phrases like “I’d be happy to find out! May I place you on hold?” communicates that you’re working to find a solution. In concept, nobody likes to be put on hold. But, when used well, placing a caller on hold gives you the opportunity to fully answer their question with confidence. For more complex queries, offer to call back or put them in contact with the right person. You and your customer will appreciate the time saved by ensuring you have the complete answer ready. Keep a phrase like “Great question! I’ll find the best person to answer it and have them return your call. May I have your telephone number?” or “He keeps his own schedule, but I’ll be sure to have him return your call as soon as possible. May I have your telephone number?” at the ready for your most complex customer queries.

3. Use hold wisely.

The location of the hold button is one of the first things you learn on your business’s phone system. But how do you communicate your rationale for putting a customer on hold? When it comes to putting a customer on hold, it’s better to ask than tell. Ask your customer’s permission to press the hold button with a simple “May I put you on hold?” Of course, your caller may prefer to stay on the line. If that’s the case, stay on the phone and communicate how it is you’re addressing their question or ask how their day is. A hold button is a valuable tool for small businesses, but only when used correctly.

4. Be polite.

Incorporate politeness into your customer service strategy with a few key phrases. While there’s no shortcut for great phone etiquette, saying “please” and “you’re welcome” will go a long way. Phrases like “my pleasure,” “may I,” and “I’d be happy to…” make a conversation feel balanced, pleasant, and natural—especially when it’s your customer’s first point of contact with your business.

5. Smile.

Be sure to smile. You may have heard this piece of advice before, but did you know that you can hear a smile over the phone? Callers will be able to hear the warmth in your voice, and you may find yourself feeling more positive. No one can truly anticipate all of a business’s unique needs, but a smile is an important first step to keeping the conversation upbeat.

6. End the call in style.

When the conversation is winding down, reverse our three-stage greeting for a professional sign off. Be sure that you’ve addressed your customer’s reason for calling by asking if there’s anything else they may need help with. Once the conversation is at a close, thank your caller for reaching out! They’re expressing an interest in your business, so regardless of how the call ends, be sure to thank them for their time. Your final exchange for every call will sound something like “Is there anything else I can help you with today? Thank you for calling ABC Construction. Have a great day!”

While a countless number of communication channels may feed your sales funnel, it’s important to remember that for nearly half of all new customers, a phone call is going to be their first point of contact. As a small construction business, your telephone etiquette is an opportunity to extend your professional courtesy and outshine the competition. Be sure to share these ten tips with anyone who may answer the phone on behalf of your business!

Learn more about Remote Receptionist for Contractors

Benefits of Remote Receptionists for Construction Businesses

Remote Receptionist Service for Construction Businesses
New data from financial information company Sageworks shows seven of the top 10 industries with the highest sales growth are related to construction. However, Sageworks also reports that the construction sector has below average profitability relative to other small businesses. For construction business owners, the opportunity for financial success is ample. So why are so many failing to attain it?

Customer service may be playing a big part. Walker Info anticipates by 2020 customer service will overtake price and product as the key differentiator for businesses. And for growing businesses, the phone is a critical customer touchpoint: 80% of callers are likely to become repeat customers after a positive phone experience, 74% are likely to choose another vendor after just one bad experience.*

As a contractor, good customer service sets you apart from the competition—but being available whenever a customer calls is incredibly challenging. A remote receptionist service can help you deliver exceptional service to every caller, while increasing your productivity and profitability. Here’s how:

Make great first impressions. According to Consumer Reports, 72% of callers who reach an automated answer will hang up without leaving a message—and potentially call a competitor. You don’t want miss out on a job because you’re too busy to get to the phone. A remote receptionist service provides the coverage you need when you need it, so potential customers don’t fall through the cracks. No more risk of losing customers to voicemail—every caller is greeted by a live, cheerful person prepared to follow your custom instructions. And if you’re looking to hire subcontractors, remote reception is a solid asset. Receptionists will answer live when candidates call and gather or relay any info you need, so you can make an informed follow-up.

Keep current customers happy. When you’re on the go all day, you’re not always able (or in the mood) to answer the phone in your warmest customer service voice. But that’s exactly what a remote receptionist can do, no matter if you’re at a job site or with a customer. A remote receptionist service gives you a team of talented people dedicated to being friendly, professional, and above all, helpful—so callers are happy, and you look good.

Get more done, earn more money. Little interruptions can add up to a lot of lost (billable) hours. A remote receptionist connects only the calls you want and happily fields the rest, so you can focus your attention where it matters most. Some of the best services allow you to change your call-handling instructions on the fly, so wherever the day takes you, your remote receptionist team is always informed and equipped to handle calls to your exact specifications. With the freedom to focus, you’re able to accomplish more each day. And many services can be turned on and off easily, so you only pay for what you need.

Gain peace of mind. You’ve worked hard to build your business, and with a remote receptionist, you can actually enjoy the freedom of owning a business. Whether you’re on the road, at a job site, or taking a well-deserved break, you’ll rest assured knowing every call is handled by a customer experience expert. Best of all, a remote receptionist service provides that reassurance at a fraction of the cost of hiring an in-house employee.

Your customers depend on you for quality work, but they’re looking for quality customer service, too. A remote receptionist service can empower you to run your company more efficiently, and create great experiences for your new and current customers—helping you rise above the competition and build word-of-mouth buzz that drives referrals.

*Source: Invoca

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