5 Reasons Your Service Business Needs to Prioritize Customer Service
Regardless of the industry in which you operate, customer service matters. But in service-based industries such as plumbing, pest control, and others, it becomes a vital part of business success and sustainability.
Do have an established customer service and response plan for your service business? If not, it might be time to get a head start. Managing and ensuring satisfaction of your existing clients, in fact, can be the core differentiator between you and your closest competitors. More specifically, here are 5 reasons your service business needs to prioritize its customer service efforts.
1) Client Retention Builds Business Sustainability
First, let’s talk about customer retention. As any experienced service professional knows, the value of clients who return to you each time they need help can be immense.
Imagine, for example, helping a home owner install a new A/C unit. Once the unit is installed, it will need yearly maintenance for continued successful operation. If the customer’s initial experience with your installation was positive, their call for annual maintenance will be directed to your line. And even if other HVAC problems or project enter the client’s horizon, you will have become their trusted source for repair and installation.
Of course, more than just anecdotal evidence exists to suggest the importance of customer retention. Studies have shown that, while less expensive than acquiring new customers, even raising your retention rate by 5 percent can increase your revenue by as much as 95 percent.
The effect is even more pronounced in service industries, which tend to be based to a larger degree on work performed for existing clients. Keeping these customers happy is likely vital to ensure sustainable revenue and profits for your business. The most reliable way to ensure that is the case is through effective customer service.
2) Local Reviews Will Drive (or Drive Away) New Customers
Never assume that customers who were unhappy with your service will remain quiet. Instead, they’ll be likely to air their complaints, using an increasingly wide array of tools available for them to let other potential clients know about it.
AngiesList and HomeAdvisor are just a few of the many outlets specifically designed to highlight service businesses like yours based on customer reviews. And don’t forget about Google’s business profiles, which enables reviews to show up as soon as a potential client searches for your business name or industry vertical.
A few bad reviews might just be the reason potential customers in your area of service turn to your competitor instead. In fact, research suggests that 88 percent of internet users trust online reviews from complete strangers as much as personal recommendations from close friends. What your customers say about you on these pages has a major impact on your bottom line.
It’s always been vital to perform high-quality service for your customers. But in the information age, thanks to the ability to air their thoughts on centralized pages, the quality of your service becomes even more important and public. You can drive positive reviews through your work but will need an emphasis on customer service to address negative reviews and concerns.
3) Complaints Need to be Dealt With Before They Become Problems
You don’t want to find yourself on the wrong end of a viral complaint. We’ve all seen them circulating on social media: a company does something spectacularly wrong, and suddenly the entire world seems to know about it. Even on a local level and for service businesses, the same can easily happen.
The problem is that when something goes viral, especially in a specific local radius, your audience tends to find out about it quickly. Even if they are not on social media (and they probably are) viral stories will be picked up by local news stations and newspapers. Once your brand name is associated with this type of gaffe, it will be difficult to recover.
Of course, even small-scale problems can have a significant impact. For instance, a customer might complain of a double-billing or rude technician. Even if that customer shares this complaint with only their Facebook friends, you might lose a few future clients as a direct result. For local service companies, and thanks to the importance of continued business, that seemingly minor incident can have major implications on the bottom line.
The solution is to emphasize proactive customer service. As mentioned above, it has to start with a great experience from the start; scheduling, work orders, and payments should be easy and standardized, while technicians and service professionals should be timely, friendly, and knowledgeable. But it doesn’t end there.
Inevitably, something will go wrong on a call. The key, in that case, is to set up an infrastructure that finds and allows you to address the issue before it becomes a significant problem. That includes efforts to engage in social listening, as well as an understanding of how to effectively address negative comments on social media. The more responsive your business becomes, the better.
4) Customer Expectations Continue to Rise
As both of the above reasons suggest, there is no such thing as operating in isolation anymore. Before the internet became ubiquitous, it wasn’t easy for new customers to find contractors and other service businesses without personal recommendations or a look in the yellow pages. Today, the same task is as easy as a quick search on Google.
That, in turn, has led to rising customer expectations. A number of studies have found as much, many of them crediting the internet and new technologies as the driving reason behind it. When your current and future clients contact you, they want an answer quickly. When they have a question, in fact, they expect a follow-up in one hour or less. These expectations only rise when something goes wrong, and your customers expect you to take action.
Is your business prepared for these expectations? It’s tempting to assume that effective customer service only matters when something goes wrong. But in fact, it’s just as vital to build a strategy that allows you to ensure a positive customer experience from the beginning.
Every part of the customer journey is part of that equation. All should be optimized to help you address the needs of your customers quickly and effectively. From the first call to the post-service follow-up, streamlined operations can help you better address these rising customer expectations.
5) New Tools Enable Better Customer Service
Finally, don’t underestimate the value of increasingly available tools to enhance your customer service efforts. While it is true that technology has increased customer expectations, the same developments have also increased your ability to address and satisfy these expectations.
Live chat, for instance, allows you to have a consistent presence on your website where potential customers can ask questions and schedule appointments. The result is increased customer satisfaction and, ultimately, more demand for your service. Similarly, a number of social listening help you always know what’s being said about your business online.
But it doesn’t end there. In fact, it shouldn’t even start there. The right software can also help you improve your scheduling and rescheduling efforts, moving to a paperless system that your customers will appreciate. To accurately and quickly address problems with current or past customers, a system that allows you to gather, analyze, and draw data from each call your team makes can be immensely valuable.
It’s difficult to overstate just how important customer service is for service businesses. To learn more about a tool that can help you improve your efforts, and ultimately build your business in a sustainable way, contact us