The home service industry is changing. In fact, almost every industry is changing, shifting from a focus on what you sell and for how much to a new gold standard — the customer experience.
Your customers are inundated with goods to buy and services to use. They have so many options — all offering the same quality of product for around the same price — that it can be confusing. So, quality and price aren’t a selling point anymore. Today, the only selling point is an exceptional, over-the-top customer experience executed with empathy, respect and honesty.
That experience starts long before the service call and extends well past it. A customer can tell from the first point of contact whether her experience with you is one she’ll want to repeat, so it is vital to get the first impression right or you risk losing the customer forever.
But if you nail the first impression, no matter how the customer chooses to contact you, it opens the door for you to wow them over and over, creating memorable experiences they will share with friends, family and even online review sites.
So, it is essential to examine every touchpoint in the customer experience and tailor those moments to smooth any obstacles, remove any rough spots. Where should you start? Most of today’s customers discover you online first, then initiate more contact if they approve of what they find there. So, your website is an excellent place to begin.
Differentiate yourself online
The easy way to create a website is to copy what your competitors use and load the site down with all the same content. But it’s not the most effective way. Think about how your customers are most likely to encounter you — on their smartphones, probably while they’re busy doing something else.
Start by cleaning up your website and canning the clutter. Your customers don’t want to read paragraphs on your home page. They want to do research and book service quickly and easily. Keep it simple and make it user-friendly on any device.
Without any nonessential words or graphics, your customers should be able to instantaneously see what you do, how choosing you can benefit them, and how they can schedule service. This process should take no more than three seconds. If it takes more, you are almost certainly losing customers and opportunities to create a “Wow!” experience.
Crushing the phone call
It’s important to be there for your customers online, to offer as many ways for them to reach out as possible, but they will still call your office. This is another touchpoint in the customer experience that must be smooth and pleasant, or you risk losing the customer forever. But if you nail it, you have almost certainly created a loyal customer for life.
Are you personally engaging with your customers? Are you listening to them without interruption? Are you speaking to them with positive energy and offering empathy along with information? As a home service professional, customers call you during times of high stress. If they feel that you care, that feeling goes a long way to creating a pleasant experience.
Make sure anyone who deals with customers on the phone is on board with this practice, and consider recording and listening to phone calls each week. The self-awareness this creates for you and your team is invaluable. Calling your office should be a pleasing, reassuring experience for your customers. If it is, they’ll keep coming back to you.
Who are you? What does your company do? How are you different from the rest? What are your company values?
All these issues factor into the customer experience. You may not think that your customers care about what you stand for as a company, but they do. Consumers today care where they spend their money, and spending it with companies that align with their values makes them feel better about the experience.
Writing for Forbes (https://bit.ly/37hJX7z), Stephen Dupont said: “Authenticity is the secret sauce that separates the transactional experience — money in exchange for a product or service with no emotional connections — from the relationship experience. It’s what turns buyers into brand disciples.”
Does this mean your home service business should take a political stand? No. What consumers really want from a company like yours is reality or authenticity. Be who you are, own what you are and don’t pretend to be something else.
Are you a family-owned business? A local business? Do you contribute to a local charity? Share it on social media to build your brand identity with authenticity.
Get your brand identity and your message clear before you proceed with online marketing. Be specific about who you are, what you do, how your service benefits customers.
Turning experience into sales
Now that you’ve wowed the customer with a great first impression, it’s time to turn the experience into sales. It’s vital to remove any barriers between your customer and the transaction. Many customers are content to do business over the phone, but offering other options opens the door for all customers to do business in the way that is most comfortable for them.
Speed is of the essence when it comes to making the sale, and online marketing with chat services can help the process along. The longer it takes to generate a lead, the more likely you are to lose that lead.
Imagine going into a fast-food restaurant for a quick bite and seeing no one behind the counter. Will you stick around and wait for someone to appear, or will you go to the place next door? A chat service will greet and engage your customers the moment they hit your website, making it less likely they’ll try the following listing in their Google search results.
Live chat services offer one option, but it requires significant staffing and cost. Another option is to use chatbots powered by artificial intelligence to engage in a basic conversation as people visit your website.
Technology has evolved to allow chatbots to respond in ways that are nearly indistinguishable from live chat. The chatbot will lead visitors to your website to call, text or fill out online forms, converting them into leads faster through instantaneous, around-the-clock engagement. Since the process is automated, there is no need to hire extra staff or pay for expensive outsourcing.
Things will go wrong with a sale, despite your best efforts. It’s just part of doing business. But it’s essential to control what you can control, to smooth the processes wherever you can to make the customer experience not just positive but brag-worthy, too.
When you realign your marketing and processes to focus on the customer, you set the stage for a lifetime of wows — chances to blow them away with the products and services you offer. Start by empowering the customer to approach you in the manner they choose, and then make every approach positive and memorable, no matter what technology is involved.