No field service business is perfect, and each makes a mistake from time to time. It's also true that some customers, frankly, are extremely difficult to please—they can be demanding, critical and even rude.
You Need to Take Customer Service Seriously
The fact that the occasional dissatisfied customer is normal doesn't mean you should ignore or be complacent about the level of customer service your business provides. In fact, the stakes couldn't be higher when it comes to keeping your field service customers happy. Consider, for example, these metrics from Salesforce:
- 89% of U.S. consumers have abandoned one or more businesses after a single instance of poor customer service
- It costs on average 7 times more to attract a new customer than to retain a current one
- People are twice as likely to share bad service experiences than good ones
- It takes 12 positive service experiences to make up for one negative experience
Making a Virtue of Necessity
Kali Hawlk, a financial expert whose work has appeared in Mashable, US News and Forbes, likes to tell her clients that having unhappy customers, far from being a deal breaker for their businesses, can be an opportunity to learn and grow. She notes, for example:
"…you can view dealing with angry customers as an opportunity to put…great customer service tips into practice to make a lasting impact on your business and your customers. Each time a customer offers their feedback, good or bad, it's an opportunity...to address customer needs. This is a chance to not only resolve a problem, but to transform someone's mindset about your brand from negative to positive through your way of handling their concerns."
Your Customers Are Not the Enemy
It's easy for your salespeople or field service technicians to get into a heated back and forth with angry customers, but that's a mistake. Although there are some customers who are difficult to please, the lion's share are reasonable people who are having reasonable problems interacting with your business. They are not, in other words, your enemies, even when they're upset. View them as opportunities to shine!
That's an important distinction, because your goal in working with unhappy customers isn't simply to end the conflict. In field service in particular, your goal should be to enable your teams, in the call center or in the field, to engage them in such a way that you ensure a positive, ongoing relationship once the dust has settled. Here are 3 strategies which will help you work with unhappy customers to maintain their trust and loyalty over the long haul:
1. Teach Soft Skills
Think about the way you behave when you get into a heated argument with someone. While they're speaking, are you really listening, or are you simply mulling what your comeback will be once they stop talking?
It's important for field service managers to teach soft skills. like listening, for instance, to their teams, regardless of where they operate functionally. In the field service (or any other industry, for that matter), it's important to put clients first, especially when they're dissatisfied or unhappy. The first step for techs, for instance, in more effectively working with these customers is to remember that they have one mouth and two ears for a reason. Instead of considering the reasons their argument is stronger than the customer's, they should take the time to listen carefully to what customer's are saying, and to acknowledge their complaint.
For example, a customer tells one of your service technicians, "I call about this breakdown 2 days ago. No one call me back until you showed up today?" Without soft skills training he or she might be tempted to respond, "we're doing the best we can," or "please don't raise your voice with me." Instead, using soft skill techniques, he or she could respond affirmatively with, "I understand that you're frustrated because we promised you'd have your item in a week, and I know that you feel angry that we haven't been responsive to your calls. I promise we're going to do everything possible to resolve this problem for you."
Using software skills helps techs soothe customers whom haven't gotten what they were promised and can quickly dispel those concerns and reestablish the trust necessary to calm the customer and to find a mutually acceptable solution to their problem.
2. Deploy Field ServiceTechnology
In the field service industry, you can deploy technology, field service management technology, to go a mile further than simply teaching staff soft skills. Field service management technology, especially those packages with employ artificial intelligence based route optimization, contractor management software, new mapping and location services, work order software, mobile solutions and consumer portals take service delivery to a new levels. They can be used to automatically and intelligently assign the best field resource for every job, including dispatching parts along with field techs, keeping consumers apprised of their booked appointment slot, job status and technician location. The scenario above doesn't exist with integrated field service management software. Mobile technology with access to assets, parts, repair information and even intelligent digital assistants help techs perform better onsite. Active listening is a necessary skill in field service. Mobile workforce management technology you cannot do without if your goal is making every customer happy through great service experiences.
3. Be Customer Heroes!
Nothing angers customers more than a business miscommunicating or not communicating, making mistaking, or breaking promises. Using best practices related to training, hard and soft skills and deploying mobile workforce management technology improves service delivery across the board. Tech understand how best to interact with customers, and you've better enabled them with technology which gets them onsite, on time, prepares them with parts, tools and information to perform a complete service, and mobile technology that can be used to personalize every service call. The customer may not always be right, but he or she is always the customers. Field service management technology can turn every person in your field service ecosystem into a rock star, adding value to every interaction, and creating long term, more profitable relationships with every customer.
To learn more about how you can enable your field teams with our field service management software to better serve your customers and create great field service experiences, while improving your company's bottom line, schedule a personalized demo today.