Author: Jay Krishnan, Vice President, Automile
The day-in and day-out work of field service professionals is all about ensuring—let’s face it, exceeding—customer satisfaction. You’ve got to get the job done dependably, quickly, affordably (and the list goes on)—and continually meet your clients’ ever-rising expectations if you want to keep their business. And when it comes to signing on new customers, well…you’ve got to woo and wow them, too.
Here are some best practices for doing just that:
1) Use Data to Inform Biz Development Decisions
Whether your workforce is out on the road installing cable lines, performing utility maintenance or repairs, landscaping, cleaning, providing home healthcare services, this, that, or another, you’re probably facing some tough competition in your corner of the market. That makes it imperative that you know what your company does best—so you can sell what makes you unique! Savvy use of operations and market data helps you identify your strengths (and weaknesses) so you can pursue the right opportunities, optimize your resources, and ultimately, beat the competition. Consider taking these steps while wrangling your data:
- Define your KPIs (key performance indicators) for benchmarking and ongoing evaluation
- Identify where your data will come from (e.g. customer surveys, internal IT system logs, workforce/project management software reporting tools, telematics solutions) and how will you track and compile it
- Determine how will you communicate insights to decision-makers and other stakeholders
2) Bid Strategically to Win New Customers
Before throwing your hat in every possible ring, take some time to identify the types of clients/projects you really want and will be successful with. Pursue jobs that are most likely to sync with your company’s experience, core competencies, and service capabilities. And get to know what your existing and potential customers need so your bids reflect the real value you can provide. Some tips for prepping your bid:
- Sell the relationship—it’s the basis upon which the services are being carried out
- Keep your paperwork and “pitch” simple, clear, and organized—yet thorough to cover all bases
- Be fair with pricing and giving yourself some leeway for changes in material and time estimates
3) Test New Marketing Ideas to Attract New Business
Where are your customers looking for solutions? Where are they researching? Who is answering their questions and providing recommendations? This day and age, after they’ve sought advice from coworkers and industry associates, they’re probably getting online to explore their options. That means your company needs an internet presence, from a branded website to profiles on social media, to lend professional credibility and give customers a “place” to connect with you and even each other. And usually, you can get your offline and online marketing to work together. The key is to experiment, see what works, and keep improving to drive better results.
Here are some ideas:
- Combine word-of-mouth marketing (e.g. referrals, posting a positive review on Yelp) with a customer loyalty program (discounts or thank-you gifts)
- Make it easy for website visitors to contact you via e-mail or telephone
- Run personalized and geo-targeted social ads to attract prospective clients. I recently saw in my Facebook newsfeed how a local landscaper was taking a very personalized and targeted approach to reach his prospective clients and another business testing a localized sponsored ad via Nextdoor. It certainly was appealing and caught my attention to act on it.
4) Streamline Administration to Enhance Customer Satisfaction
Freeing yourself from clutter—namely paper and manual processes—enables you to focus on serving your customers and putting your best foot forward with prospective customers. And today, when office automation solutions are widely available and largely affordable, trade-offs like these just make sense:
- Employee self-service human resource management and payroll functions offer internet-based self-service, saving time
- SaaS accounts payable solutions automate invoices and payments, reducing errors and saving money
- Web-based document storage keeps stacks of paper off your desk, eliminating the need for storage space
At the end of the day, these time, money, and space savings allow decision-makers to manage by exception and put financial and human resources toward activities that directly impact customers and their experience with your company. That translates to loyalty—and that means more business.
5) Embrace Technology Tools to Boost Service Delivery
Outside of the back office, technology is critical to improving the quality of service your customer-facing technicians provide. Thanks to web-based business software solutions that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, and from any device, it’s easier than ever to give your 'workforce-on-wheels' what they need to get the job done right—the first time and every time. Here are some ways you can leverage technology to accomplish more, remotely and on-site:
- Explore if it makes sense for your business to provide your mobile workforce with smartphones, so they’re always a touch or call away from the office and customers
- Give your field workers access to apps that correspond to your web-based software applications so they can maximize their productivity while at client locations
- Employ fleet telematics to help you with route planning, vehicle cycling, and monitoring the real-time location of vehicles so you can manage schedules and keep customers informed of when technicians are due to arrive on site (Learn how Nagle Athletics uses fleet telematics to improve customer service).
When you enable your workforce to communicate in real-time with customers and coworkers, they can get the information they need to solve problems (again, in real-time), and even check the availability and whereabouts of parts and supplies. The end result is a job that’s expedited with speed and accuracy. And importantly, when your employees' productivity soars, they get more done—and have more time and energy to serve new customers.
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