Is your customer communication strategy fit for 2022?
At this point in time, most field service companies use at least some technology to make their operations more efficient. But more often than not, there’s room for improvement, especially on the customer-facing side.
You may think that your customer communications strategy is in place, but has it transformed to match customer expectations of 2022 and beyond? What you’re already doing may not be enough.
Customer expectations are changing quickly — more industries are feeling pressure from “Uberisation,” the emerging customer desire for real-time transparency, two-way communication, and services to revolve around their needs. If you don’t meet customer expectations in the age of Uberisation, you risk high operating costs and falling behind your competitors.
Here are 7 questions to ask yourself to assess whether your customer communication strategy can meet customer needs and expectations in 2022:
1. How do you confirm appointments and remind customers of upcoming appointments?
Chances are you have some kind of appointment confirmation system in place for your customers. But there’s a big difference between simply sending an automated confirmation and reminder email, and providing an interactive customer portal that your customers can engage with.
Is your support centre bandwidth focused on confirming appointments and sending reminders or handling service resolution? You can eliminate a lot of work for your support centre by automating appointment confirmations and reminders. It’s even better if customers can cancel or reschedule appointments from the customer portal without having to contact the support centre at all.
2. What sort of ETA time frame are you providing?
Traditionally, mobile operatives are given instructions to call the next customer when en route to their appointment. But there’s no real way to track this, and many technicians simply forget to do this step.
Meanwhile, customers have to put their lives on hold waiting for a phone call — and if the next customer is nearby, they won’t get much notice. This is a bad customer experience, and one that often leads to missed appointments, bottlenecks, and complaints.
Long ETA windows like the traditional 2- or 4-hour window are no longer acceptable for most customers. After all, they have grown accustomed to receiving regular updates from shippers, food delivery apps, and rideshare drivers. They want to be able to plan their day around smaller time frames so they’re not sitting around waiting for a technician to arrive.
Ideally, automated service updates will offer customers a 15 minute window, and then automatically update if something changes to delay service. Meanwhile, customers can go to the store, get some work done, and live their lives without waiting for a call.
3. Can your customers track their mobile operative's arrival on a map?
Over half of all calls into contact centres are to ask "where is my technician?" For a typical field service company, an inbound chase call costs around £7.50 — so it's no surprise that these calls quickly add up. Customers expect to know where their technician is locally, so they can anticipate their movements and plan accordingly (much like one can for an Uber driver or food delivery).
Luckily, implementing this kind of technology is actually quite easy. Simple plug-ins like the ones available through Localz can help to alleviate call centre stress with real-time tracking of mobile operatives so that customers are already in the loop. Localz client customers report over a 45% reduction in chase calls, which can quickly add up to a lot of savings.
4. Do your customers know who's coming to their door?
Tracking and alerts are great, but how do you go one step further to ensure the person coming to the door is who's expected?
Many of your customers want assurance that the person at their door can be trusted. This is particularly important for senior citizens, people who live alone, and others who just feel uneasy about letting a stranger into their home.
Fortunately, using a white-labelled, web-based customer portal allows a company to host important technician details in a place that customers can easily access. A web portal like the one Localz offers allows customers to see a profile photo of their assigned operative, number plate information, and other details that provide assurance.
5. Can customers communicate with their driver to amend missing or incorrect information?
When a technician doesn’t have the necessary building code or information on which door to use, it creates an access problem. Then the operative has to try to ring the customer, either directly or via the contact centre, wasting valuable time. If they can’t get ahold of the customer, it’s a no-access appointment — and that translates to costly rescheduling.
Access instructions can get lost if there is not an available option for customers to communicate easily to the company. Incorporating two-way communication or providing the option to add a note to the job makes it easy for customers to relay this information, even if the technician is already on the way.
6. How can customers communicate if things don’t go to plan?
Sometimes a customer’s plans change on a minute-by-minute basis. For example, maybe they just have to pick up their kids from school or drop something off with a neighbour and will be back in 10 minutes. If your communication strategy isn’t equipped to handle last-minute changes like this, it’s not equipped for modern life.
When a customer can communicate directly with service technicians, they’re able to plan according to the needs of their provider and their regular, everyday life. Otherwise, they’ll be left to sit on hold for customer service — but by that point, the operative will have already left.
Customers should be able to easily communicate if they need a few extra minutes, enabling quick passage of critical information to prevent a failed appointment. Group chat functionality adds the contact centre directly into the conversation for an added layer of transparency.
7. How do you collect and manage feedback?
Optimising the customer experience requires easy feedback on how your team is performing. Are you gathering data on each appointment to make sure that your technicians are doing the job right at every stop?
Of course, many customers see feedback calls or emails as troublesome. Be sure to include a field on your survey or feedback form asking whether the customer would like a follow-up call. Oftentimes, they’ll opt out — Localz customer Welsh Water was able to reduce third-party follow-up calls by 83% this way.
Just because you have a few tools in place for customer communication doesn’t mean you’re prepared to meet their expectations. Fortunately, getting up to speed doesn’t need to be costly or difficult.
Giving customers plenty of options for communication can reduce no-access appointments, reduce inbound calls to your support centre, and result in better customer satisfaction. Localz can help.