Today is the age of customer choice. Twenty years ago, if you were in need of a handyman, plumber, exterminator, or other service at your home, you called up the one contact the whole neighborhood used and accepted the six-hour window, one week in the future that you were offered.
Those days are gone. Customer loyalty hangs in the balance, with technology making it easier than ever for potential customers to find your competitors and call them instead if they aren’t happy with your offering. Seventy percent of consumers report that technology has made it easier to take their business elsewhere.
But the right technology can also make it easier than ever to keep your customers. Field service management (FSM) software increasingly adapts to today’s consumer needs. Implementing the right tool can mean the competitive edge that keeps your customers loyal - as well as assisting in acquiring new customers. Here are a few ways FSM software addresses customers’ changing expectations.
1. Consistent, Strong Branding
When it comes to standing out in a world of increasing competition, a strong, consistent brand is key. Think about the brands you trust the most — the ones you’d be comfortable purchasing a new product from or visiting when you’re in a new city. Familiarity is the reason you have that trust. You recognize the brand and have consistent experiences in service and product no matter where in the world you encounter it.
If you are a field service franchise, it can be difficult to maintain that consistency across locations. Even something as small as a different invoicing process can throw customers for a loop if they make a switch between locations. FSM software cuts down on inconsistency by making streamlined branding easy to implement. You can roll out identical processes or forms across an organization with a push of button and customize branding so that every customer touchpoint sits squarely within your brand guidelines.
2. Increased Transparency
Thanks to the internet and mobile technology, every one of us has a wealth of information at our fingertips. This has created plenty of “armchair experts” in your customer base. While their perceived knowledge may certainly be greater than their actual knowledge, perception is, after all, reality.
In order to avoid a battle of opinions, information sharing is critical. The more transparent you are with today’s customers and the more you work to education them, the more they’ll trust you.
With FSM software, you can give your customers a behind-the-scenes look at your work without slowing progress. Collaborate on documents and photos, share frequent updates; and communicate changes in real-time, increasing customer engagement throughout the service cycle. You can even give customers access to GPS updates so they know exactly where your reps are when they’re en route to a job. Better yet, all that information is stored in the cloud, so if questions or concerns come up at a later day, it’s easy to reference.
3. Faster Response Time
The phrase “I’ll Google it!” has forever changed how, and how quickly, we seek out information. As a result, two-thirds of today’s customers expect to get a response to a question about a product or service within a day. Forty percent expect a response within an hour.
That can seem like an impossible expectation for businesses to keep up with. How can you monitor every one of your inbound channels at every moment? FSM software makes it more than just possible, it makes it easy through integrations with your social platforms, email marketing software, and your customer relationship management tools.
You can manage all inbound customer requests from one platform. And many FSM solutions offer in-app knowledge bases where you can store answers to frequently asked questions, upload critical company-wide updates, or simply house team wisdom. As a result, when customers ask questions, any team member should be able to quickly provide an immediate, accurate response.
4. Multiple Methods of Contact
Speaking of managing multiple channels, today’s consumers are everywhere. More than half of them report changing their channel of contact depending on where they are during the day. Emailing about a field service appointment might work while they’re at work, but while at home, text could be best. Then while in transit, a phone call may be the only thing that does the trick.
With the right FSM tool, you can provide customers with multiple options for contact. Automate appointment reminders from one or more of each customer’s preferred channels, deliver invoices and other documents paperless or printed, and store all of those preferences so repeat customers always get the experience they expect.
5. Detailed Personalization
Our day-to-day internet habits leave a trail of data behind for businesses to mine. As a result, most of us are exposed to extremely personalized shopping experiences every day like “You forgot this in your cart!’ emails or ads with recommended products that match a recent Google search.
Though we can sometimes feel intimidated at just how much data is out there about us, we’ve all become accustomed to personalization. And your customers are no different. In fact, the majority of consumers report that they’d gladly give away even more personal data in return for more personalized experiences.
Using a FSM tool, you can provide each customer with a portal personalized to their needs. When logged in, they’ll see a history of jobs, related documents, upcoming reminders, and more. Plus, they’ll be able to update their information for any individual preferences such as payment method of choice or preferred appointment days and times. The more your customers interact with the software, the more it learns about them and updates to meet their needs.
Technology has changed the way consumers shop for goods and services. And that means you need the right technology to change your business to meet those needs. FSM software is helping smart businesses stay ahead of the curve and keep customer expectations in check.
Taylor Burke is a contributor to TechnologyAdvice, she’s passionate about marketing and creating excellent customer experiences.
Life moves pretty fast. So do customer’s expectations. We take a look at 5 key trends in what customers expect from the service industry, and take a look at how FSM software can help businesses stay ahead of the curve.