Automating Communications Between Office and Customer

By Glade Ross, RossWare Computing

Everyone these days is attempting to do more, but with a fixed quantum of time.   It’s not just you and personnel in your office.  Your customers too are juggling many balls at once, and telephone calls are often inefficient.  They simultaneously tie up two people, who must come together — at the same point in time — to jointly expend their mutual time.  In today’s world, this is becoming increasingly difficult to do.

When a consumer already has the annoyance of a failed appliance, it adds insult to injury when they’re forced to expend more time attempting to connect in a traditional person-to-person phone call.  Frustration builds when navigating through menu trees, voice mail, and so on.

Enter the modern solution that yields vastly increased happiness, all around.  Today, much communication that was formerly conducted person-to-person can instead be automated, and with far greater efficiency.

To begin, you must offer an intelligent and streamlined interface via which your customers can book their own service requests online.  It should offer a calendar that exposes solely those dates you have open for the customer’s location (with availability updating automatically in real-time as your schedule changes).  When the customer books, all the information must flow automatically into your internal management system.  From your perspective, each job will simply appear (and do so within moments of your customer clicking “submit).  All details will be perfectly filled-in, with no need for human hands to further touch.

That’s but the beginning, but a strong one it is.

Imagine altering your telephone-hold greeting.  Instead of just saying: “We are busy helping other customers but will be with you shortly,” your message can happily add: “If you prefer to avoid waiting, please go to our website, 123GreatServicer.com, and click on Schedule.”  This kind of greeting makes your tech-savvy customers most happy.  Even more powerfully, for those who go online first (i.e., shopping for service), when they land on your site and find they can immediately book the needed visit, you can bet your chances of converting that formerly potential customer into a real one are vastly increased.

Moving onward, do you call your appointments each afternoon prior to provide a timeframe, and confirm the customer’s expectation to be there?  If so, why are you doing this manually?  You should instead have a system that automates.  It can be done via emails, robo-calls or both.  If via email, the text should include a hyperlink on which the customer can click to confirm (or open an interface via which to reschedule, if preferred).  Regardless, the result should feed automatically back into your management system.  In other words, it should require but a single click to send out the full set of confirmation requests, and in the next following hours you should see the resulting confirmations appearing in your system, with no further work on your end.

 Believe it or not, we’re just getting started.

 How often do customers call wanting to know the status on their repairs?  You should have a system that lets them check online, any time day or night, and without needing to speak with anyone in your office.

How often, on the day of their appointments, do customers call, wanting to know how their tech is running?  Why not offer an online interface where they can check themselves?  Indeed, why not tie it to that confirmation system.  After the customer confirms, have it configured so that automatically an email goes out that says (in essence): “Great, and if you’re wondering how your tech is progressing tomorrow, just click on this link.”  Really, you’d not believe how powerful this can be.

As for the tech himself, why not have him equipped so that, as he’s completing one job, a feature in his mobile interface offers to automatically call the next customer to announce he’s on the way?

You can imagine how impressive and appreciated all of this can be from your customer’s perspective.

But, back to yours.  How often do you want a better and more complete picture of how your customers are feeling about the work you’ve done for them?  What if you had a system that automatically emails after completion of a job, with invitation for the customer do a very quick, four-click survey?  You can imagine the power.

 All these technologies are readily available, and made easy to implement via advanced software systems that are available right now.  The needed website interfaces are simple plugins.  The actual processes are entirely or virtually automated.  The time saved by your staff and customers is incalculable.  The appreciation from customers (for the conveniences you’ve afforded them) is immense.  Even greater, perhaps, is they become just stinking impressed with what an advanced, has-it-together company yours happens to be.

 If you’re not using such systems, it’s time to change.  Check with your software provider.  If yours does not offer such features, find one that does.

Glade Ross
RossWare Computing
290 East Lighthouse Road
Shelton, WA 98584
glade@rossware.net
www.rossware.net
360/427-6000

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