It’s not hard to see why keeping customers happy helps you grow your electrical business revenue. After all, the more satisfied a customer is, the more likely it is that they’ll hire you again and recommend you to their friends. Repeat business and free advertising in one go!
Achieving customer satisfaction, on the other hand, is anything but easy. It used to be that finding new customers was the most challenging part of running a contracting business, but with all the marketing avenues available these days, reaching people isn’t that difficult.
Convincing them to become customers and then keeping them happy throughout the process is the essence of providing a positive customer experience. Plumbing Perspective has written that “tech giants like Amazon and Facebook permeate every aspect of our culture and they’ve reshaped expectations so much that simply doing a good job just isn’t enough anymore” and the same applies to electrical businesses, as well as any other field service company.
This is why we’ll be looking first at how customer satisfaction has changed, and then at what you can do about it in 2021. However, first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page regarding why it’s worth the effort:
Why should an electrical contractor care about customer experience?
We touched on how great customer experiences incentivize people to come back and recommend your electrical business in the previous section, but beyond the fact that good customer relationships have a direct impact on your future, the fact of the matter is that many managers and owners are looking for immediate results.
Too often, pricing electricians’ services is a fight to the bottom, with contracting businesses pricing for bare survival in order to match the competition, without being aware of their overheads or what corners said competition might be cutting. Pricing for profit, on the other hand, flips the script and puts your business at the forefront, but charging a fair amount can seem daunting, especially with a 3-star average on Google.
This is why customer satisfaction matters all the more: it allows you to set premium prices, which you can back up with proof. If you’re not sure where to start with pricing for profit or just want to check whether you’re already doing it well, these are three methods of calculating what you should charge per job. And if you needed one more nudge in the right direction, Walker released a progress report that showed price is not the key decision factor anymore for consumers. The majority of customers are looking for a great experience and better yet: they’re willing to pay for it.
So what is customer satisfaction for an electrical business in 2021?
Let’s say you’ve wired a new security system for a customer and it was a challenging job because of their house’s architecture, but you sent in your best technicians and they managed to get it done. A tough job, a good technical result, what more could you ask for? Well, it turns out customers are asking for a lot more.
Even in this situation, you could get a lukewarm, 3-star review, especially if it was difficult for the customer to contact you and get the confirmations or reminders they expected. Even worse, it’s perfectly possible to get a 1-star review if it took 4 weeks for them to hear back about a quote for the job, only for the invoice to be incorrect, with no easy way to pay or correct it! .
This might sound like the most superficial thing, but expectations and it’s true that many customers feel entitled to good service. These days, they’re also empowered to use their voice when the service wasn’t what they expected, and can slam you with a negative digital review. Add in the fact that a competitor is always just a Google search away and you’ve got the perfect recipe for lost business, even if the actual electrical work you did was perfect.
So, customer satisfaction in 2021 is about convenience of service, personalized communications, and making the customer feel in control.
1. Convenience: Friction free customer journeys.
If you look at any of the most successful companies in recent times, you’ll notice a trend, especially with the likes of Uber, AirBnb, Booking.com, etc. The reason for their success was neer the product or the quality of their work, but the convenience of their service.
Now, as an electrical contractor, no one would blame you for thinking “I’m not Uber!”, but at the same time, your clients most certainly use these services and their expectations are moulded by these companies, not by the other contractor in town.
Fewer and fewer people like to call in order to book a service, they all prefer an automatic booking portal like the one they use to get a good seat at their favorite restaurant. They don’t want to have to remember when their appointment is due, they want to be reminded with automatic notifications. And they definitely don’t want to wait around for quotes or invoices because everywhere else they go, those things are done instantly.
It can be difficult to shift your perspective as an electrical business owner and accept those are the standards you’re being held up to these days, but, on the other hand, this can also be your advantage! By looking at the customer experience as a sum of individual journeys – as in booking journey, call-out journey, etc. -, you’ll be in a better position to structure your work and identify the weak links. You can find a detailed customer journeys mapping guide here for even more information.
Offering convenience will make you the default option for your customers and incentivize them to return again and again, not because you’re the cheapest option, but because you’re the best.
2. Personalized communications.
Oftentimes, bad communication is the root of negative experiences. A customer that’s in-the-know and feels confident that the work they need is getting done isn’t likely to leave a 1-star review. Even if the process gets a little bumpy along the way (e.g. a part you ordered didn’t arrive on time and you have to re-schedule), as long as the communication is done well, most people won’t have any trouble accepting the situation and moving on.
Consistency in your communication is also essential. Good customer journeys are about increasing the customer’s trust in your electrical business and, like in any relationship, consistently positive behavior is the way to do it. If you were on the ball with every confirmation, real-time technician tracking, and feedback request the first time around, the customer will trust that when booking you again, you’ll deliver the same experience. Fail on that because this time you’re a lot busier, and the disappointment is all the greater.
Automating your communication is key in keeping up with these demands and need for information. Sending emails is no one’s favorite task and your admin certainly has better things to do than write confirmation after confirmation. Especially when there are many CRM tools out there to help you create a database, implement a few email templates, and keep your customers happy with no effort (and a lot of admin money saved!) on your behalf.
3. Make the customer feel in control with customer self-service.
One of the issues with automating repetitive admin tasks in your electrical business is that it can all start to feel a little less personal. Customers like to feel special and remembered because chances are your electrical business is one of very few they’ve used – if not the only one – so it’s easy to make a connection. On the other hand, for you, most customers are similar so it’s hard to keep track.
If you’ve already followed the previous point’s advice and invested in a good CRM software that is able to harness the power of collecting field data, then you can put it to good use. With it, you can personalize communications and get well on your way towards impressing your customers with your attention to detail and efficiency.
This being said, a new concept is going to be essential to customer satisfaction in 2021 and that’s self-service, meaning the customer does most of the work and they’re actually quite happy about it. The reason behind this goes back to the experience they’ve grown to expect from companies they interact with day-to-day lives.
For example, an automatic booking journey is based on self-service at the end of the day, with the customer being willing to do more work in exchange for feeling in control and avoiding situations that makes them feel awkward or anxious (e.g. talking on the phone). Doing online payments, checking where the technician is once they’re on the road, these are all examples of self-service that not only makes the customer happy but also saves your business from a whole lotta work.
How to improve customer satisfaction in 2021?
Getting to grips with the new customer can be challenging without the right tools. So, whether you choose to mix and match a scheduling software with a CRM or go for an all-in-one electrical business software option, the fact of the matter is that automating aspects of your business is essential to providing the kind of experience customers expect in 2021.
All in all, it’s easy to see why convenience, personalization, and feeling in control are so important, regardless of the industry you operate in. At the end of the day, if you were hiring a company to work on your home or business, that’s what you’d expect from them, too.
Author Bio: Cristina is a Marketing Executive at Commusoft where she helps field service businesses discover the potential of digital solutions. A curious hybrid writer and marketer, you’ll usually find Cristina doing what she loves most: using her work experience to produce engaging content for those looking to make the most out of their business strategies.