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Improving Your Service Visits

FieldPulse | June 25, 2016

Managing a service business means you and your staff have likely carried out hundreds of service visits. As part of your business, you need to interact with customers on a day-to-day basis. When done properly, service visits are great opportunities to build relationships and encourage loyalty with your clients.

However, when your company does not handle service calls well, you’re putting your customer base at risk. Poor communication, tardiness and an unprofessional manner are just examples of behavior customers dislike when dealing with service companies.

A 2015 TechnologyAdvice survey of 3,800 U.S adults about their recent interactions with service technicians shows what respondents had to say about their recent service visits on issues like preparedness, communication, and overall impression:

Arriving in a timely manner

Over 78% of respondents from the survey say that their technicians were early or on time for scheduled appointments. 21% of technicians missed an appointment or were late.

Arriving on time is the first opportunity to demonstrate that you respect your customer’s time and that you’re reliable. Service businesses that arrive late are asking the customer to consider other businesses that are on time, so make sure you and your staff are sticking to their scheduled appointments. If tardiness is a recurring issue, you may need to adjust your scheduling process to allow more time for jobs or to consider travel time as a factor. How do you ensure your field techs are arriving to the job site on time? GPS location tracking features found in some service business management software allow you to view a timestamp and geolocation tag of your team members as they start the job and complete the job. With timestamped geolocation updates, you can see where and when your team members started the job.

Technician Arrived At Site

First–Visit Fix Rate

Was the technician able to fix the customer’s problem during the first visit? 79.8% of technicians were able to fix the issue the first time. 9.1% of customers had to schedule a follow-up appointment because the was problem was not fixed during the first service call.

What could cause a second appointment to be necessary? In some cases, it can’t be avoided, for example discovering that the problem is more severe than first described by the customer. It’s unacceptable that follow-up visits are required for situations where the wrong equipment was brought to the call, or necessary parts lists weren’t communicated to your servicing technicians ahead of time.

Don’t get caught in these situations. Here’s why:

  • Second visits take away from your ability to serve other customers during that time, resulting in lost revenue
  • Higher costs; each second appointment when one would have been enough is eating away your profits and raising your costs for that job
  • Inconveniencing your customers, who may choose to shop around for another company if they feel you’re the cause of the inconvenience
Service Completed On First Visit

Keep customers in the loop

Customers like to know what’s going on when it comes to a service they’re paying for. There’s no such thing as over communication to the customer when performing work for them. Keep them informed regarding the cost of the service and any other complications that may occur.

Per the survey, just 27% of technicians offered an explanation for delays while a majority of technicians, 56%, offered no explanation at all. Many service businesses don’t have the tools to keep track of fleet vehicles, technicians, and job status. Frankly, that’s an unacceptable response for a professional company to offer a customer in today’s age. There are cost-effective business management solutions available to companies of all sizes that will solve that issue once and for all.

An Aberdeen Group study cited in the survey report claims that 45% of service organizations said that “real-time visibility into . . . technicians, vehicles, parts, and resources” significantly improved their overall field service performance.

How Customers Were Informed About Delays

Communication is vital in making customers happy.  Survey respondents were asked how information about service charges was presented. 77% of technicians informed customers of the price while on site. 23% of technicians did not provide any pricing info at all.  In a customer transaction, clear communication of pricing is key. Keeping customers in the dark until they receive an invoice in the mail or clipboard handed to them will cause feelings of anger and confusion. Do not leave your customer with that impression after a service call.

How Customers Were Informed About Charges

Favorite communication method

When customers were asked how they liked to communicate with service businesses, 60% preferred to be reached by phone, 30% preferred text messaging (automatic or manual), but only 8% preferred email. The low email percentage is important to note, and it’s best to keep email communication for sending documents like proposals or invoices. If you want to relay information, you’re better off reaching out by phone or text.

How Customers Prefer to Communicate

Positive vs. Negative customer feeling

Here’s what service call satisfaction look like overall:

A narrow majority of service calls positively affect customer opinion (55%) while 35% of service calls left customers feeling ambivalent and 10% left customers feeling dissatisfied.

Service Visit Affect Customer Opinion

Every time you interact with a customer is an opportunity to earn a customer for life. Recurring customers and referrals are the lifeblood of service businesses. There are cost-effective solutions to solve any issue that could negatively impact customer satisfactions. We’ve mentioned tracking your techs and appointment timeliness, and poor communication and coordination costing you more in extra visits and hassle to your customers. Service management software will organize every aspect of your company through:

  1. GPS tracking of employees
  2. Customer data management
  3. Scheduling tool with real-time communication features
  4. Professional mobile invoices and quotes

What area of service visits do you struggle with the most with?

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