By Erica Leonor
If you’re like me, you’re sick of talking about COVID-19 and how it turned the world upside down. Yet regardless of which side of the fence you or I sit on relating to the pandemic and how it played out, it will always be part of our history now. It will always be a topic of conversation and our generation will refer to it as a before- and after- milestone.
If the pandemic taught us anything, though, it taught us to be adaptable, flexible, and open to rapid change. It taught us to think outside of the box and be innovative in how we manage our lives, our businesses, and our relationships. It taught us that even though our contracting businesses are considered essential, we still had to take a different approach to how we manage our teams and ultimately the customer experience. We had to find a way run our businesses internally and externally in a contactless way.
And it hasn’t been a bad thing.
So, what made certain companies become wildly successful while others struggled to stay afloat during 2020? There are several reasons why, but I want to focus on one in particular: technology. Even though things are returning to some semblance of “normal” in our society, I truly hope that innovation and utilizing technology is not lost or forgotten. I hope that even if masks go away and we are allowed to shake hands again, providing a contactless experience for customers does not go away with it.
Why? Because there will always be someone who still wants it. There will always be those people who feel more comfortable doing a Zoom meeting first before letting someone in their home. Because there will always be the group of people who got used to virtual meetings and enjoy the convenience they offer. Because there will always be the group of people who saw how effective online or video chat can actually be. We did it for a whole year and it worked, so why would we stop just because things start opening back up?
The entire point of customer service is to make things easy. The less amount of effort your customer has to put into working with you, the more likely they are to stay with you long term. They don’t want the hassle factor, they want easy.
So, if you want to lose out on an entire group of homeowners, then continue to do things as you’ve always done — and get the same results as you’ve always gotten. But if you want to own your market, you need to provide options and variety to fit each and every client.
Here are five creative ways to use technology to connect with your customers in a contactless way that is different and stands out.
1. Send a postcard on the anniversary of your client choosing to partner with you. If you have service agreements, you should be able to tell how long a customer has worked with you. Send them a card or perhaps a little gift card recognizing them and showing them appreciation. They love that stuff. There are many companies that can automate this process if you want. Or each year when your maintenance tech goes out there, he or she could also take the little anniversary swag item or gift with them.
2. Start collecting birthdays. One of the easiest ways I’ve seen this collected is during the happy calls that CSRs make to their customers. Simply ask the customer “Over here at ABC Company, we love to celebrate great clients like yourself. May I get the day and month of your birthday so we can send you a little something on your special day?” Add the date to their profile, then set up an automatic birthday message. If you don’t know how to do it through your software, there’s always a way with Excel.
3. If you ever have a customer who is adamant about getting a price over the phone or perhaps is hesitant to have someone in their home, isn’t it better to set up a virtual meeting than to lose that call altogether? I’ll let you be the judge of that. But one of the biggest things that is lost in customer service is that people don’t fight for their customers anymore. They just let them go “hoping” they’ll call back. Well, they won’t. Of course, my No. 1 goal is to book the call and get a technician or comfort advisor in the home. But if it comes down to either a virtual meeting or losing a call — well — I’m definitely going to offer virtual before losing it all together. Moral of the story, get a Zoom account.
4. Be open to new forms of payment. You probably accept credit and debit cards, checks, cash, and even offer financing. But do you also accept Venmo, Apple Cash, Facebook money, or even PayPal? I’m not saying you have to offer all these options, but at least one. People send money digitally all the time now and are used to it. It’s easy. And it’s contactless. And we are going to start seeing it more and more every year. Having the option is better than not having the option.
5. Use videos in your follow-up process. How often do you leave your customer with an estimate or accessory and never close it? You might try calling them once to follow up, but more often than not, you’re probably leaving a voicemail and then move on. Well, what if you left them a video voicemail instead? I know it sounds weird and out of the box, but it is different. And different is good! All you have to do is leave your same voicemail that you normally would leave, just do it on camera. Now you went from being just another sales robot over the phone to a real person who has a face to go along with their voice.
There are so many details that go into providing great customer experiences over the phone and in the home. My invitation to you is to always be open and consider other options, even if it is completely opposite to what you’ve always done. Contactless customer service won’t go away, so set yourself up for success NOW rather than being left in the dust when the next pandemic happens.
Erica Leonor is a Customer Experience Coach and Sales Trainer at Power Selling Pros.