Have you read the recent article on achrnews.com covering different aspects of the EGIA 2019 event? A section about Drew Cameron's breakout session and his point about customer experiences grabbed my attention.
He reminded the audience that contractors, like any other business out there, need to really connect with customers. Final purchase decisions, in many cases, are wrapped up in the buyer's emotions about the experience (and the results) of buying. How do you make your customers feel about what they decide to spend with you?
Your first reaction to that question may be, "well, nobody 'feels great' about spending money on an emergency service call."
True, but think about it like this; you need to help people make a decision they will feel good about, regardless of the circumstances that led them to call you. The situation may stink, but the experience of working with you should be sweet.
Consider Your Own Experiences as a Customer
What about all of your favorite places to do business? Unless their prices are just insanely amazing, chances are you may pay a little more to buy from them because they offer excellent service. Maybe they make the buying process super-easy, quick, and frictionless. Perhaps, they are just awesome people to work with.
The point is that you do business with people who offer you an emotional or experiential benefit that you feel good about. If you're having an emergency, maybe you settle for whoever is available to help. Otherwise, you're going with the provider that you trust and like.
6 Tips for Building Better Customer Experiences for HVAC and Plumbing
"Customer experience management" and "customer experience strategy" (sometimes called CX strategy) are buzzwords in big businesses throughout the world today. However, you don't have to be a global enterprise to reap the benefits of this business practice. Whether you're dealing in heating and cooling systems, toilet repair, pipe fittings, or some other service, the way you market, sell, and deliver services can make or break your business.
Let's look at six customer experience initiatives that can set you apart from the competition.
1. Identify your company's core values
Your company's core values give everyone on your team a guide for how to act when representing your business. These values shouldn't just be "lip service" to what customers want to hear.
Your core values need to represent what you will do each time you engage with prospects and customers. If courtesy is a core value, make sure everyone understands what treating people with courtesy means. When it comes to core values, it's not enough to say it. You have to do it — everyone has to do it if you want to provide exceptional customer experiences.
2. Define and build your brand
Your brand is important, and it's way bigger than your logo and signage. Your brand represents a promise that you make to customers. Defining your core values can help you hammer out your promise.
What's your brand's promise? To be available, no matter what, when a plumbing emergency strikes? To be a cutting edge provider of smart home-compatible HVAC products? Define it, live it, love it.
3. Make it convenient to do business with your company
Customer expectations increasingly include the ability to reach your business online. Why? Smartphone adoption. As of 2019, 81 percent of Americans own smartphones, and around 50 percent of Google searches occur on mobile devices.
Now imagine that person who's air conditioner blinked out on the hottest night of the year? He or she is on a smartphone looking for "air conditioner repair near me." Will your business show up? Can the person click to call from your ad or website?
What about those people who don't have an emergency? Maybe they want to install a new sink or purchase a new heating and cooling system. Do you have a web presence that explains what services you offer? A form or live chat where people can submit questions or request an estimate?
Make it easy for people to do business with you. Today that means being web-ready and mobile-friendly.
4. Refine your sales approach
Now, back to another of Drew Cameron's points. Cameron told his session attendees that they don't need to have "sales conversations" with customers. They need to have conversations that help customers come to the right decision for themselves.
It's time to take the pressure off "selling" and, instead, emphasize helping, educating, and guiding in each customer interaction.
It used to be that the company had all the knowledge, and therefore, all the power in HVAC sales situations. Today, many customers have researched their problems and possible solutions before they ever call you. That means your role is to help customers understand what they've read, advise them on things they may have missed, and offer options to resolve their pain points.
5. Offer value-added services and products
Customer-centric HVAC and plumbing contractors understand that people expect additional value and options when they make purchases, especially when making large purchases like a new HVAC system. When you offer things like service plans and extended warranties, you're giving your customers peace of mind about their investments.
Don't be afraid of offering programs like extended warranties on HVAC and plumbing parts and labor. Yes, these options add cost, but the key is to position them as a benefit and not an additional transaction. These types of services should bring your customer peace of mind and let them know that you care about maintaining a good relationship with them.
6. Use software that helps you serve and connect with customers
Maybe you've held back on implementing different types of software because you're concerned about cost or complexity. That's understandable, but don't let assumptions keep you from doing a little investigation. You may be surprised how affordable these different types of software can be.
Growing organizations should think about implementing field service management software. It brings together a lot of great features — customer management, estimates, invoicing, scheduling, payments, and more — in a single platform. Our partner, Service Fusion, has different packages that won't break the bank.
If you don't need field service management software yet — or you're looking for additional platforms to complement your FSM — there are cost-effective (often FREE) tools to help you stay in touch with and serve customers.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software — Believe it or not, there are several free CRM options out there to help you manage your relationships with customers and prospects.
CRM puts contact information, customer feedback, and history at your fingertips. Everyone likes to be remembered — especially after they've spent money with you. Keeping track of details about what you've done for them, when they may need a service call — even their birthdays, helps you.
You can reach out to check up on the service you provided. You can send an email to wish someone a happy birthday. CRM helps you stay connected.
Email marketing software — staying in touch with your customers year-round keeps you top of mind the next time they need an HVAC repair or the services of a plumber. Email marketing software makes it easy for you to send touches throughout the year. Tips on how to prepare for changes in seasons, maintenance ideas, new service offerings, and even holiday well-wishes are perfect ways to keep in touch.
Email marketing platforms can be relatively inexpensive these days, but you don't have to spend a dime if you don't want to. There are free email marketing software plans you can try now.
Social media management software — Social media helps businesses stay in touch with customers when they may not be actively in need of service. Sharing tips, funny memes, and information about your business can help you stay connected, It can reinforce your brand's personality, too.
Social media profiles are free to set up, but individually managing each can be a little time-consuming. Try a social media scheduling platform to streamline your social media efforts. There are many free social media schedulers you can try now.
What Are You Doing to Improve Customer Experiences?
The way a customer feels about doing business with you is vital to customer loyalty. You've got to pay attention to developing that good experience from the moment they start searching for you to post-purchase.
If you've got some killer tips for creating good customer experiences, share them in the comments section below. We'd love to hear from you.
Vice President of Sales at JB Warranties