Understanding how to streamline service call scheduling for your clients and prospects is essential in the service contracting industry. To keep your doors open, it is critical to manage your appointments efficiently while maintaining a steady flow. In this business, time can become currency.
The longer your clients have to wait on a service call, the more impatient they will become and also will become more likely to call on your competition. Instant gratification has created an increasing number of perpetually impatient clients. So, you must determine an effective scheduling process that will impart a positive effect on your customer experience. Keep reading to learn more.
Map your processes
Review the time it takes, and the general sequence, for the entire process from scheduling an appointment to completing a service call. Document all activities involved. Then, look for current and potential bottlenecks.
This is the time to identify waste and/or redundancy. The goal is also to help shorten the process and improve upon the customer experience and cost incurred through preventable delays. After this review, you can start to standardize your processes for easier scheduling.
Put the client first
As long as you and your client are on the same page, in terms of service times, then scheduling must be based upon their schedule. In fact, all appointments must be based on the customer’s convenience. As a result, it’s crucial to offer several options, so they can choose one that best fits their schedule.
It also helps to increase your service times so that you can respond to and be available to a large variety of customers. In this sense, the goal is to meet their expectations and requirements.
All of this is best achieved by using service scheduling software. With this technology, you can easily keep track of all scheduled appointments and your team. You can quickly find openings in the schedule and be sure to meet your customer’s needs.
Don’t let your technicians run the schedule
There should be one, centralized scheduling mechanism such as a customized CRM system to manage all scheduling processes within the company. Even the most senior service technicians should not be allowed to create their own schedules.
They can provide input, and of course, you must consider their work schedule – but scheduling should be centralized and organized. If service technicians are allowed to create their schedules, then you might miss out on important customer data. Service technicians are skilled at offering services. They are not necessarily trained to managed a comprehensive record of their service calls.
Also, this leads the way to an unstructured environment where everyone is out in the field, doing their own thing. Instead, use a CRM for scheduling and designate a point person to manage all service scheduling.
Offer the option to schedule several appointments at once
Some service calls require multiple appointments. Instead of waiting until after the first service call is completed, schedule all necessary appointments now. As a result, there will be less back-and-forth between your office and the client. Also, you can plan ahead more efficiently when you have a scheduling process that is structured this way. Just be sure to think about delivery times fo parts and potential observation periods between appointments.
Create clear policies around no-shows and last-minute cancellations
Even with the most streamlined scheduling process, there will be last-minute cancellations, late clients, and no-shows. These scenarios will put a wrench in your schedule and cause delays. If you want to provide an excellent customer experience, then reaching service calls on time is important.
Yet, that would be difficult to accomplish with a lax scheduling policy. If your clients realize you’re okay with last-minute cancellations, they won’t have any motivation to keep their appointments. Clients will feel they can just schedule again another time.
So, once you’ve created a policy designed to avoid delays and rescheduling, let your clients know immediately. In fact, you should let them know as soon as you schedule an appointment. Be very clear about how your policies work.
Maintain updated scheduling processes and systems
In this regard, it does not pay off to try to cut corners. What may have worked when you had five customers will no longer work once you have 10 or more. The same is true if you have expanded your staff.
Scheduling mistakes cost money in terms of downtime and the potential loss of future business. Get out of spreadsheet hell, and, invest in a service contracting CRM system that will give you a complete overview of your scheduled appointments and will send out customer reminders.
Make sure your employees are on the same page
The service contracting industry is dependent on technicians who work on a timely basis to drive sales. In terms of your scheduling process, make sure everything is clear with your staff.
With a standardized system, and scheduling point person, your staff should understand why scheduling must be centralized. With modern scheduling software, your team should have mobile phone apps that keep their schedule up-to-date. In addition to a primary scheduler, train someone as a backup – just in case. Then, make sure your staff adheres to your scheduling policies.
Send confirmation emails and reminders
After an appointment has been made, send out an email confirmation. Then, send a reminder around 3-5 days prior to the appointment. In the confirmation email, include a list of all the items they will need for the appointment including payment and/or paperwork.
Also, include your cancellation/late/no-show policy within both your confirmation and reminder emails. You can send automated reminders through your CRM system for easy, no-fuss processing.
Achieve service scheduling nirvana
Using the tips above will make work easier for your employees and improve the overall experience for your clients. You probably don’t like to wait, and neither do your clients. It’s also another way to enhance business relationships while building trust with your prospects and customers.