Throughout the years, the forces that have driven the plumbing industry to change and improve have been diverse. From competitors trying new things, to technological advances pushing boundaries, contractors have had to adapt, or get left behind. One driving force that hasn’t always been recognized, however, is the customer.
Sure, good contractors and managers have always taken into account that customer satisfaction is what keeps a business running, from invaluable word of mouth recommendations to the ever-profitable returning customer strategies, but the fact of the matter is that customers themselves have changed. Tech giants like Amazon and Facebook permeate every aspect of our culture and they’ve reshaped expectations so much that simply doing a good job just isn’t enough anymore.
The fact that customers expect so much from every company they interact with (even if they’re not a tech giant) has already been discussed and dissected. After all, 2020 was the year customer experience became more important than price. Now, the pressure is on plumbing and contracting companies to make sense of these expectations and find a way to implement changes. That, however, is easier said than done. How do you turn a plumbing company into Amazon?
This is where customer journeys come in. And no, that’s not a typo. We do mean customer journeys, as a plural. That’s because the complete sum of interactions between a customer and a field service business is not singular; their experience is made up of many interactions that require individual attention, but ignoring this fact is an error that many managers make.
1. The customer isn’t the most important one, they’re the only one!
For example, what’s the first thing a customer has to do in order to hire you? Book an appointment, right? Well, that’s the booking journey. How many steps are there to go from needing a plumber to having an appointment scheduled? Where do you lose customers along the way? How can you remove friction so that the process is so smooth, the customer never gets a chance to change their mind?
Basically, if you can turn your booking journey into something resembling Amazon’s “1-Click Buy” button, you’ll have significantly improved your lead conversion rate. You’ll earn more money for each dollar spent on getting leads to your website, increase your chances that the customer will continue through to the next journey, and encourage re-bookings in the future.
The same applies throughout each additional journey, as highlighted in the image above. The more points of friction you have, the more negative the overall experience and that’s even if the customer’s problem was fixed! It can be overwhelming (especially to smaller businesses) to take into account every single interaction, but by mapping the customer journey, it becomes far more manageable.
For example, in the booking journey we mentioned above, most people expect to book an appointment the same way they book a dinner reservation. Therefore, an automatic booking portal is the tool you need to offer that experience. A quote? Why would they wait days for the office staff to send one, or even weeks, when they’re so used to seeing prices online?
Providing instant digital quotes will impress the customer, help upsell them on premium plans (because they can clearly see their options and the benefits shown on multiple quotes), and save your admin time.
2. How do plumbing technicians benefit from great customer journeys?
The reason customer journeys will define 2021 as well as the coming years (a bold claim, we know!) is because despite the name, rather than targeting a single shareholder, it stands as a holistic strategy for a business.
From a technician’s point of view, an easy job is one they can do as efficiently as possible. That means taking as few trips back and forth to the office between jobs (ideally none), for the customer to be aware of the visit & available when they do arrive, and finally: to be able to support any query the customer may have, all whilst in the field.
When you’re aiming to offer a smooth pre-appointment, call-out, and inventory journey to your customers, all these imply having the right tool to make your technician’s day fly by. The customer is kept up-to-date via notifications so they know to be are available, and technicians can expect to know whether the parts the installation needs are available; these are just a few of the benefits that work to make everyone’s lives easier.
3. How does your office staff benefit from great customer journeys?
Frictionless customer journeys are tightly linked to the concept of customer self-service and business automation. Much like booking a stay on Booking.com, the customer does part of the work, whilst software takes care of reminders, invoicing, and even feedback requests.
On the customer side, they’re happy because they feel in control of their experience and can get results quickly with near instantaneous confirmations every step of the way, establishing peace of mind.
The admin side is where the greatest benefits truly lie.
Software automation can’t replace office staff when it comes to complex tasks and building relationships, but it can support them to deliver their best work by removing repetitive and time-consuming parts of their day, like emailing confirmations and double-data entry. More efficient admins means you can hire more technicians, and get more work done with the same amount of resources.
4. The Takeaway
All in all, customer journeys are a complex concept and no one expects a business owner to get it perfect from the beginning. However, as we move into 2021 and learn to live with the challenges we’ve faced in 2020, it’s true that customer expectations will continue to rise, but quality customer journeys can help you face them.
Digital tools are already a mainstay of our everyday lives and Commusoft is one that strives to make remarkable customer journeys a breeze for any contracting business. If you’re looking to learn more, check out our Customer Journeys page.
Cristina Maria is a Marketing Executive at Commusoft, a job management software company, where she helps educate and empower field service businesses to deliver a remarkable customer experience.