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Service Business Management: 10 Customer Communication Mistakes You’re Making + How to Avoid Them

FieldPulse | July 7, 2016

Effectively managing your customers is critical to the success of your field service business. Without happy customers, you won’t be able to 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 such as misplacing certain customer contact information or creating an inaccurate invoice. These common mistakes can quickly cause customer loss.

Using a service business software like FieldPulse to manage your operations through customer management, scheduling, and invoicing is a great step in the right direction. Especially since you’re still in charge. If you want to ensure that you build a reputation as a reliable provider in your field, it’s important to become aware of 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; 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 your ability to retain a customer’s interest. Customers want to know that you’re on top of things.

When you don’t follow-up with a customer about a job they may take it negatively. The delay in getting them their estimate can be seen as no interest in their job. Taking weeks to send it could leave an impression of being disorganized or to busy to do the job they are calling about.

The key is to time your customer communications carefully. You want to find that sweet spot between keeping them informed and spamming them. You will want to set up a communication strategy from the initial phone call that includes a confirmation email, reminder messages, arrival notifications and a follow-up messages.

#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 update feature with FieldPulse’s service business software in order to keep tabs on each and every customer’s project as efficiently 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; immediately assuring them about the progress.

#4: Failing to Create Contractor Estimates

How do the totals of estimates and ultimately, service 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. Instead, itemize them with FieldPulse’s service business software so that you’re much more likely to be on target with the end cost. This will not only make your customer happier with the final result, but it will make your own project easier to manage because the specifics involved or clearly identified and defined beforehand.

#5: Unaware of 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 payment milestones, utilizing FieldPulse’s payment status tracking feature 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 and negatively impacts your incoming cash flow. 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 final charge at 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 Customers Few Payment Options

Customers appreciate, and expect, to be allowed multiple easy to pay their invoice. With the help of a service business management software, this can be easy,

FieldPulse Payments allows you to accept credit cards in the field or online. This 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?

If the answer is no — which sometimes it is — then it’s tempting not to say anything to your customer. However, 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. This is not something to shy away from because it creates a positive transparency between you and the customer.

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, before they even need to 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.

Amplify Your Service Business Management

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.

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Contractors and small field service operators rave about FieldPulse, the simple and easy scheduling, job management, invoicing solution that is easy to use and makes running your business a piece of cake. All FieldPulse subscriptions include friendly, live, US-based support and a complementary membership to FieldPulse Academy where you can access a community of similar business operators sharing free tips and advice.

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