Effectively managing your customers is critical to the success of your service business. Without happy customers, you won’t build the reputation you need to ensure the long-term cash flow that keeps you afloat.
That’s why it’s so critical to avoid costly customer management mistakes. Using an all-on-one application like FieldPulse to manage your service business through customer management, scheduling, and invoicing is a great step in the right direction. But you’re still in charge. If you want to ensure that you build a reputation as a reliable provider in your field, you have to learn common customer management mistakes — and how to best avoid them:
#1: Failing to Immediately Follow Up
This mistake might not seem to cost you much at first. Instead, it’s a “quiet” mistake. A customer won’t typically beg and plead to be followed up with; instead, they’ll leave that to you. Do you schedule follow-up calls after communicating with a customer for the first time? Do you confirm appointments with customers to ensure that you’ll both be there? It’s the little details that have the biggest impact on our ability to retain a customer’s interest. Customers want to know that you’re on top of things.
#2: Failing to Follow Up in the Long-Term
You’d be surprised at how much repeat business you miss out on simply because you aren’t taking the time to reach out to former customers. Make sure to set a schedule for an appropriate length of time to pass between your service to a customer and a follow-up—then, when the scheduled time arrives, send out a template email to make sure that they’re happy with the services you provided them.
A lot of customers will be happy about this little touch, and may even reach out to you for more services soon afterward that they had been “meaning to get around to.”
#3: Not Updated on Job Status
When a customer calls for an update, are you ready with the latest information on their project? If not, then you’ll want to take advantage of the status updates with FieldPulse in order to keep tabs on each and every customer’s project as soon as you can. A sudden phone call from a customer can catch you off-guard, but with status updates handy, you’ll be able to look up their project quickly and easily and assure them about the progress.
#4: Failing to Create Specific Estimates
How do estimates and ultimately invoices end up surprising customers? Usually, it’s the result of the service provider not itemizing these estimates and setting expectations for the customer up front. Don’t give out template, one-size-fits-all estimates at the early consultation. Itemize them with FieldPulse so that you’re much more likely to be on target. This won’t only make your customer happier with the final result, but will make your own project easier to manage because of the specifics involved.
#5: No Clue on Payment Status
The customer relationship is a two-way street. If they’re not paying you on time, you need to know before you make the next investment in their project. To keep tabs on project milestones, utilizing FieldPulse’s payment status tracking will let you know what’s been invoiced—so you don’t send out two invoices at once—and what’s been paid.
There’s nothing worse than a service provider who has no idea whether their customer has paid or not: it sends signals of incompetence. Avoid that by keeping tabs on payment at all times.
#6: Failure to Set Expectations
Settings customer expectations up front and on paper (digitally) can ease fears and assure customers that they will not be surprised by the end of the job. Upon confirmation of the scheduled job, send the customer an email with full expectations of the job you will perform, when it will be performed, how long it will take, and how much it will cost.
#7: Giving Them Few Payment Options
FieldPulse allows you to integrate payments with Square, which means you can accept all manner of payments easily and quickly. Many people don’t keep cash on hand and don’t like writing checks. Make sure you’re prepared to take credit card payments to make the process as automatic and seamless as possible. This won’t only ensure your peace of mind, but will help customers feel like you’ve got your act together—and that helps their peace of mind as well.
#8: Zero Attention
Is the project going well? Is it on time? On budget? Then it’s tempting not to say anything to your customer. But it’s worth sending out a brief message to let them know—especially if their project is longer and more involved—that things are going according to plan.
Using a simple schedule, set reminders to send status updates to your customers to reassure them that all is going according to the initial estimates. For short term projects or same day services, tell the customer in person what you’re working on and how much longer you expect the job to take.
#9: Having No Plan for Customer Management
In our previous post on customer communication, we recommended four milestones:
- Confirmation email for initial booking—same day the appointment was scheduled.
- Reminder text message—24-48 hours before the scheduled appointment.
- Same day text message—the morning of the on-site appointment.
- Follow-up email—summarizing the work completed at the meeting.
This is typically good for one-off, simple meetings and projects. For longer-term projects, you may want to set a milestone meeting or two to give your customer an update on how things are going.
#10: Zero Response
Finally, you should make a habit of keeping your customer in the loop if they reach out to you. Not only will this ensure that they feel comfortable with your progress, but it will help you create a good habit that will improve your relationship with your customers over the long-term.
It’s not always the mistakes that make you “mess up” with customers—many times, it’s what you don’t do. Being thorough, giving updates, and making sure that you meet milestones are all good habits that will make your customer feel valued and attended to. If a customer doesn’t feel that they’re an important part of your service, then they may look for problems down the line. Don’t let them feel this way. Instead, promote a healthy customer relationship model that will keep customers happy, keep your company running smoothly, and build your reputation over the long haul.