This article has been reviewed by Billy Stevens for accuracy.
Customer service is paramount for home service companies like plumbing and HVAC contractors, whose businesses center around delivering the best possible service to homeowners to experience growth. The key to improving customer service is increasing customer experience. Learn more about customer experience, including its major components and seven strategies you can implement to enhance it at your company.
Defining the Customer Experience
Customer experience (CX) refers to the various customer interactions that occur at your business at different stages along the customer journey.
CX matters because customers’ perceptions determine brand loyalty. Positive customer experience increases the chances homeowners choose your services again, whereas poor customer experience will encourage them to opt for a competing company.
CX can be started by a customer (direct) or through passive interactions (indirect). Direct CX involves communicating with the team and using products and services. Indirect CX includes internal marketing, external advocacy and media coverage, and user-generated content like online reviews and word-of-mouth marketing.
What are the 4 components of customer experience?
To improve CX, residential contractors must first understand their customer interactions. The following four aspects help you better determine the quality of these interactions:
- Customer-centric culture: Fostering a customer-centric culture means all team members work toward meeting customer needs and providing positive experiences. For this reason, management should begin by cultivating better employee experiences. When company culture values staff, it increases the likelihood that employees embrace your CX strategy.
- Customer touchpoints: Improving CX means meeting or exceeding customer expectations at each touchpoint along the customer journey.
- Consistency: Delivering a good customer experience is an ongoing process. Delivering consistent quality helps you maintain better customer retention and preserve your reputation.
- Customer satisfaction: When measuring overall customer experience, look to customer satisfaction. It’s ideal for measuring real-time customer experience because it’s easy to measure at each touchpoint. Consider using a customer satisfaction score (CSAT) to evaluate this aspect.
What is the customer journey?
The customer journey is the comprehensive experience customers have at each touchpoint. It includes their interactions before, during, and after purchasing services. Customer journey maps can provide more insight into CX than individual touchpoints alone. While the customer journey looks slightly different depending on the specific business or industry, it generally includes the following five stages:
- Awareness: A customer identifies a pain point and begins researching a solution.
- Consideration: The customer realizes the need for a service to fix their problem and compares providers.
- Decision: The customer has settled on a provider and is ready to buy. Businesses can prompt customers to decide by simplifying the process of scheduling appointments. For example, contractors can direct them to contact pages and form fills on every webpage.
- Retention: After the customer purchases services, the business focuses on continuous customer service to prevent customer churn.
- Loyalty (Advocacy): Brand loyalty leads the customer to recommend the business to others in the industry, boosting the bottom line.
7 ways to improve the customer experience immediately:
1. Use Technology to Remove Pain Points
Rapid advancements in technology have made the digital experience just as important as CX. Contractors can leverage different CX technology that helps automate customer service processes for a better customer experience, including:
- Email automation
- Social media
- User experience (UX) solutions
- Conversion rate optimization
2. Embrace an Omnichannel Mindset
The omnichannel mindset means that customers have multiple methods of interacting with your business, and these methods are interconnected. Thinking specifically about HVAC and plumbing customer service, a homeowner may wish to schedule their initial appointment online, call the office, or interact with chatbots for answers to questions. An omnichannel approach leads to better customer engagement, enhancing experience.
3. Use Customer Journey Mapping
Customer journey maps are visual aids that explain the specific customer experience at a business. It highlights customer needs at each touchpoint that may push them toward (or away from) purchasing. Mapping helps contractors see the complexity of the customer journey and reveals the number of touchpoints for new customers, as well as external factors that may impact their decision.
4. Personalize the Journey
Creating a personalized experience is essential for meeting customer needs and maintaining a competitive advantage. An effective way to personalize the customer journey is by creating personas that encapsulate the characteristics of the ideal customer. Once you establish your personas, determine their goals and generate targeted messaging to reach prospective customers.
5. Beef Up Customer Service
A key differentiator between successful contractors and ones that fall behind is customer service. What’s more, improving customer service doesn’t necessarily cost the contractor much money to accomplish. The following are some effective strategies for maintaining high-quality service:
- Ask for customer feedback and respond accordingly
- Listen to customers by responding to reviews promptly with empathy
- Design customer loyalty programs
- Offer customer self-service
- Utilize CSAT and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) as metrics of customer satisfaction
- Be candid about your mistakes and errors
6. Empower Employees (to fix customer problems)
Unless dispatchers have the resources they need to do their job, customer experience can suffer. Empowering employees begins by providing customer service training during onboarding but continues with regular performance feedback and opportunities to grow their knowledge. It also involves providing the tools necessary for everyday tasks, such as phones with strong connections for quality service calls.
7. Value Employee Ideas
Any new strategy requires input from your employees. Home service businesses like residential plumbing and HVAC contractors interact with customers at various levels. From office staff to dispatchers to technicians, each employee has a unique perspective on improving customer experience. What’s more, allowing teams to share their ideas and incorporating them into the overall customer experience strategy fosters a culture where employees feel valued.
Boost Customer Experience (CX) with Field Service Management Software
Delivering a better customer experience can be what sets you apart from other contractors and help you grow your bottom line. One step residential plumbing and HVAC businesses can take toward enhancing CX is investing in field service management software.
With software solutions from Sera, plumbing and HVAC contractors can streamline processes like scheduling and dispatching to achieve better efficiency. Our software offers several features that contribute to a better CX, such as quick and easy quote building that allows techs to offer homeowners quotes without needing to consult admin staff.
Contact us to learn more about our software. Schedule a free discovery call or demo today.