While running a business, it is essential to regularly interact with your customers; your business is only as good as your front-end warriors ranging from your customer support team to your field workforce. As a business, it is important to strive towards improving your customer service and creating positive relationships with your customers. While receiving feedback from your customers, it is best to look at it as an opportunity to improve your business processes; you can gain valuable insights from dissatisfied customers.
In a recent PwC Survey, 90% of CEOs agreed that customers have the biggest impact on their company’s strategy. Let’s face it; most customers will not bring up a concern unless it causes them inconvenience. As a business, you should make a note of these grievances; this will help you identify the gaps that you need to address in your business.
As a customer-centric business, no matter how much you try to meet every customer’s needs; or how efficiently you run your business, you will receive a customer complaint at some point. Today it is even easier for customers to voice their opinions thanks to the Internet and social media. Businesses may not like to deal with demanding customers, but they help you improve your product and your business as a whole; the key is to consider the customer’s situation and be considerate while trying to address their issues.
Here are seven common customer complaints that field service businesses receive on a daily basis and some tried-and-tested tips to help you resolve them.
7 Biggest customer complaints in field service
In the field service industry, there are several issues that customers bring up. The most common customer complaint is that a technician has not reached the customer’s location on time or that the technician is taking too long to solve the issue. Another reason customers complain is when they need to pay more to service their equipment because they were not notified about their preventive maintenance contract’s expiration.
Let’s look at a few more of these complaints and get an idea of how businesses need to address and handle customer complaints.
1. My service is not scheduled on time
Scheduling delays top the list of customer complaints and need to be taken more seriously. No one wants to be kept waiting for services they are paying for. Customers take time out of their busy schedules for their appointments. When service is not delivered at the specified time, it leads to poor customer satisfaction requiring a call-back, rescheduling requests, and even a bad review.
When there is a delay in service, it is not because the business is intentionally overlooking their customers. Rather, it could mean that your business is doing so well that they have a higher inflow of service requests which exceeds their field workforce strength. Perhaps, they are using archaic tools like spreadsheets and Gantt charts to schedule services leading to longer dispatch cycles. Whatever the root cause is, the business needs to identify it and find a way to resolve it.
2. Unable to track where my technician is
When managing a business, it is crucial to know the whereabouts of your employees and their activities to ensure their availability whenever the need arises. Failing to do so, you will have trouble addressing new service appointments or scheduling requests that comes up at the last minute.
With a GPS-enabled field service mobile app, the technician’s location can be viewed in real-time on the map, helping you gauge where your technicians are in relation to your customer service locations. When you know how far away your techs are, you can give your customers an accurate ETA and offer an uberized experience.
3. Service delays due to inefficient inventory management
The cost of inefficient inventory management can build up so fast. Having a predictable flow of inventory ensures that your service requests are resolved on time. Let’s say you have received a customer request, your field technicians are ready to go, but you do not have enough stock of your product. The service delay may frustrate the customer and it is frustrating for the business as well since a long service delivery cycle may end up costing them a customer.
The best way to prevent this is by ensuring you stock enough inventory. It is also essential to ensure that you keep track of inventory items used. Proper inventory management will ensure the replenishment of your stock on time, reduce obsolete inventory, and prevent overstocking, keeping you one step ahead of your near-term needs.
4. Expired estimates, invoices, and contracts
When you are dealing with customers, communication is essential if you are going to collaborate effectively. While onboarding customers is important, so is retaining them. Go the extra mile and help your customers by notifying them about renewing their contracts and sending notifications after expiration has occurred.
Customers need to be kept up-to-date about their contracts, and when they end, it helps them ensure that they renew their maintenance contracts in a timely fashion. It is essential to have a contract management tool that will not only maintain a record of all your customer contracts but also notify you well in advance to reach out to your customer about upgrading upgrade their contract.
As a business, you must know the expiry dates of your customers’ estimates, invoices, and contracts. A field service management platform can trigger automated alerts to customers encouraging them to approve their pending estimates and invoices. Timely payment reminders not only reduce the workload of back-office staff but also improve the cash flow.
5. Lack of options to pay for the service online
In today’s tech-savvy world, we see an increase in the adoption of automation, AI, and other technological aspects across all areas of business. You need to stay up-to-date, if you are going to remain competitive. This is especially important when trying to offer different payment options and streamline payment collection.
Yes, it is important to offer a primary payment option of cash, which will be the preferred method for many customers. However, it is equally important to provide other payment methods like credit/debit cards and additional forms of online payments.
As the saying goes, putting all your eggs in one basket is not a good idea. Similarly, having more than one payment option is advisable. Having several ways to pay is a good idea if you are to make the best use of today’s payment solutions. This will give customers different options for you to choose from, improving their overall experience.
6. Communication gaps
Since collaboration within an organization is essential, a lack of communication can affect the success of a business. At times, data may be stored in different systems. Retrieving and organizing information from disparate systems can be time-consuming. It can also be challenging to keep track of all your customer’s personalized schedules, which is necessary to send them alerts, emails, or SMS; having a single source of truth helps.
Since communication is the key to success in any business, you need to stay connected, and making use of technological advancements to do so is a good idea. You can use a field service platform where you can chat live and send emails, SMS, and alerts from one place.
7. Lack of self-service options
With customers wanting more freedom, customer self-service options are becoming increasingly popular. Most customers prefer to seek solutions by themselves rather than depend on customer service representatives. This method will suit customers who are used to the convenience of performing online tasks like online shopping, banking, and booking appointments online.
Without a self-service option, that would mean that there would be a line for customers based on a first-come, first-serve basis. Customers waiting in line to resolve something simple will leave them frustrated. The main reason customers prefer to avoid customer service is that they want their problems resolved quickly and involving another person or waiting on hold is often seen as unnecessarily time-consuming.
While having a customer support team to take care of problems is essential, we must remember that you also have customers who would like to take care of issues themselves. Having a self-service option allows you to cater to both customer types; this way, if someone is unable to help themselves, they can turn to the support team. Ultimately this lightens the load on your team, who can spend their time on other tasks and lead to a better customer experience.
Proactively address customer complaints
We all want to be heard and our issues addressed; proactively addressing customer complaints is crucial for any business wanting to maintain good relationships. Taking customer feedback well and addressing their concerns professionally is essential; customers enjoy a better experience when you provide timely solutions. Following the points below will ensure you provide the best customer service experience there is:
a) Allow your customers to always reach you
It would be best to have multiple channels of communication to allow your customers to contact you at all times. Providing customers the convenience of contacting you through whichever medium they are most comfortable with is not just a good idea, it is almost expected in the marketplace today. In addition to providing an email or phone number to contact them, a customer portal will allow them to conveniently stay in touch while keeping track of the status of their concerns.
b) Be a considerate and proactive listener
When dealing with customers, it is crucial to listen, not just give them suggestions immediately. They are reaching out to you since they are having difficulties with your service and want you to fix things for them. Proactively listening to customers is something that most businesses overlook, and that is something that you need to excel at if you would like to grow a loyal customer base.
c) Listen and be empathetic to their situation
While it is important to listen to your customers, it is also important to be empathetic to their situation, and a courteous response goes a long way. Actively listen and ask probing questions that help you understand the cause of the issue the customer is facing.
d) Repeat what you heard
Repeating what the customer said lets the customer know that you were not only actively listening but also understood what they said. You don’t have to spell out exactly what you heard, but rather explain in your own words the problem as you understand it.
e) Provide an action plan to solve the issue
Businesses that have a stellar customer service team are dedicated to providing customers with the best service possible. Part of providing a quality service is making sure there is a plan of action that will satisfy the customer. Having simple solutions to common problems is essential; this helps customers to resolve minor issues themselves.
Let’s wind up
Customers will always gravitate to businesses that listen to them; when they feel heard, customers feel valued. When customers understand that they are taken seriously and their issues are being addressed, they will speak well of your company, bringing you more customers.
Understandably, running a business takes work, and it can take time to manually check renewal dates for customers, especially if you have a vast customer base. Simple issues like payment reminders and warranty renewals are two things that can be taken care of using intelligent field service software.
You will get reminders in advance and, in turn, notify your customers to make their payments or renew their warranty on a timely basis. These simple things are what customers appreciate. To find out more about how Zuper works and to get a first-hand experience of how you can make the best use of its features, register for a free demo here.