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customer experience

Customer Experience in Service Businesses

What is the “Customer Experience?” According to professional services firm TSI, customer experience is the cumulative effect of all interactions–sometimes referred to as “touchpoints” between a company and its customers. While you may be thinking these interactions are only between human beings, it is more than that. Simply put, it is the sum of the entire customer journey with your business 

No doubt, the explosion of the Internet and mobile devices has changed the way we view how to craft and manage the customer experience. Today, we interact with companies in a fast-paced, user-driven manner; we expect the information we need to be available—without interruption—whenever we want it. Taking this into account, we must give proper attention to all the points at which a customer interacts with your business. 

If you see customer service as a cost center for your field service business, you are not aloneBut, that cost center suddenly transforms into a profit center when you consider that 80 percent of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience

In the following example, we offer two very different, but very realistic ways the customer experience can go. For this purpose, imagine yourself as a 28-year-old graphic designer who just bought a new home and you need to get some work done inside of it.  

What is a Better Customer Experience?

Scenario 1

You remember you once used a company to do some work at your old house and they did a good job. A search on the Internet turns up no company website, so you dig through old files searching for paperwork that might contain contact information.

While on your lunch break the next day, you call the number on the old work order but can’t get anyone on the line. After a few unsuccessful attempts, you finally reach someone and explain the situation. They are pleasant over the phone and get you set up for an appointment.
The day before the job, you miss a phone call reminding you of your scheduled visit. You listen to the first few seconds of the message and delete it.
Now it’s your appointment day and time, but no one is showing up. Two hours later, a technician arrives, apologizes, and says he asked someone at the office to let you know he was running late. You never received a call. But, he is nice, works fast, and does a good job. As he gives you a paper work order record of the job before he leaves, you notice his handwriting is messy and hard to read. He tells you the office will mail you a bill.
About a week later, you receive the bill. You don’t really write many checks or mail things very often, so you have to search for your checkbook and go to the post office on your lunch break for stamps. Eventually, you notice in your online bank account that the check cleared.

Scenario 2

You quickly find the company’s website and a contact number. After a quick phone call to schedule, you receive e-mail confirmation for your appointment. Start to finish, this took you about five minutes and not a whole lot of thought.

The day before the job, you receive a reminder email and text from the company about your appointment, confirming the time a technician will arrive and the service to be performed. Thirty minutes before your appointment, you receive a text that he is on his way and will be there on time.

The technician is knowledgeable, kind, and helpful. He records his job progress on a tablet, taking photographs, filling out forms, and more. After completing his work, the technician uses the table to collect your credit card payment you digitally sign for it. Almost immediately, you receive PDF versions of your invoice and work order in your email.

Let’s put these concepts in action by thinking about a real-world customer experience in the field service industry—how your existing customers request future work—and see what takeaways we can find.

Analyzing the Experience

While the customer experience in the second scenario is far more of a positive on for reasons that seem obvious, there are other, more subtle ones at play.

Don’t design the best customer experience, design the best customer experience for specific customers. 

Scenario two works in this case because the customer is in a high-tech profession and likely prefers a more user-driven experience that leverages technology. Had the customer been an older retiree who wasn’t comfortable with technologythe high-tech option could have been confusing and irksomeAs you craft your customer experience, ask yourself who your customers are and what they expect, and design it accordingly.

Don’t get distracted by bells and whistles; stick to meeting your needs. 

It may seem that a good customer experience just means having dazzling technology. But what contributes more to that experience is the ease of use of that technology. If it is cumbersome, slow, or difficult to navigate you lose the obvious benefits of scenario two and the customer may end up more confused and frustrated thaif they were employing the traditional methods of scenario one. When evaluating any program for your business, look at it from the position of the customer and understand the customerfacing features. 

Don’t rely on just the human interaction to make up your customer experience. 

In both scenarios, the interaction between company employees and the customer is excellent. But, the cumulative effect of all the touchpoints in scenario two makes it a more overall positive experienceDon’t forget that the big picture, not just the individual touchpoints, is important. 

Don’t clog the customer journey with unnecessary steps.

People are busy; the longer it takes your customer to get through your company’s process, the more likely they will have a negative experience. Make the process as simple and expedient as possible.

Where Do You Go From Here?

Before investing in new tools, start small by asking yourself some simple questions:

What customer journey do I want to focus on?

Should it be new customers? Returning ones? Rather than overhauling your whole process, work with one subset at a time.

Who are my customers?

Once you’ve decided on the journey, think about the customers in that group. Develop a profile that unpacks their demographics, the behaviors, and their objective when seeking out services you provide.

What are the steps in this customer’s journey?

Is your current process too long? Consider unnecessary steps and tighten up your process.

How can I limit the number of touchpoints?

Before investing in the most flashy or expensive custom solution, consider what features are of most value to your business. Hone in on platforms that check most, if not all, of those boxes.

What technology should I use to keep up with market competition?

Before investing in expensive custom solutions, look into field service management software, accounting software, and payment processors. There are a lot of great SaaS products that you can start using right away.