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?
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.
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.
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.