Call Centers & Online Appointment Scheduling for Contractors (Part II of II)
If you work as a contractor, it’s likely that you don’t spend all that much time in an office. As a small business owner, the majority of your time is spent meeting customers and prospects on-site, all over town. Unfortunately, with the amount of travel that your job demands, it’s easy to lose touch with customers and overlook potential job opportunities.
Whether your customers are looking for help during regular business hours, on weekends, over the holidays, or after hours, they need to know you’ve got them covered … because quite frankly, if you aren’t there to answer the phone when your customers need you, they’ll find someone else who is. To stop your customers and prospects from simply crossing you off the list and moving on to the next contracting service listed on Google, you might consider investing in a call center or in online appointment setting.
Online Appointment Setting for Contractors: What Is It?
As technology continues to shift, and customer expectations along with it, contractors are noticing a rise in the importance of online scheduling. While some contractors decide to stay with a phones-only method, many other contractors have begun to offer customers the option of requesting service and specifying appointment times through their own website portals.
According to Michael Goater and Eric Andrews, cofounders of Success4others LLC, there is a broad trend across all markets to minimize the effort a potential customer must make in order to do business with you. “The most successful contractors are the ones who are asking themselves, ‘How can I make it easier for my customers to do business with me?’” Goater said.
“The reality is that most contractors make operational decisions based on what is easiest for them and not the customer. People, by nature, are looking for the path of least resistance — they want things to be easy. The easier it is to do business with you, the more people will do business with you.” Andrews added, “Now, more than ever, people have busy schedules. Giving them a way to view your availability for service and sales calls makes it easy to accommodate both their schedules and yours.”
Online Appointment Scheduling for Contractors: Reduced Costs
An online appointment scheduling system can eliminate the need for a staff member to work overtime or for your management team to hire new staff members to help deal with the work excess created by the process of scheduling appointments. The savings could be quite significant.
Additionally, having appointment reminders set up can help save money by reducing the amount of no-shows – either contractors who forget about appointments, or customers who fail to show up.
Online Appointment Scheduling for Contractors: Improved Customer Service
Scheduling an appointment over the phone typically means that an individual has to call in during regular office hours, because very few offices offer 24/7 phone bookings, which is an inconvenience for a lot of customers because they’re working during regular office hours as well. Moreover, a lot of individuals might simply prefer to schedule their appointments online instead of over the phone.
Online Appointment Scheduling for Contractors: Keeping Up with the Times
Ara Mahdessian, cofounder and CEO of ServiceTitan, which has developed a business management software system specifically for HVAC, electrical, and plumbing contractors, also commented on the impact of changing consumer habits.
“Consumers are becoming increasingly busier. When they need something, many of them — particularly the newer generation — don’t want to have to put down what they’re doing, pick up the phone, wait for it to be answered, and then wait to be asked for their name, phone number, and so on,” Mahdessian said. “As the new generation grows older and increases homeownership, we only see this as something that is going to compound in the near future.”
And, consumer expectations are also being formed by their interactions with large, tech-savvy companies, according to Christopher Rywelski, vice president and general manager of RazorSync, a publisher of mobile field service software.
“From the customer’s perspective, self-scheduling is the new normal. Think of the consumer experience from larger companies like Uber or Netflix, and you’ll see that customers are accustomed to taking a much more active role in the service experience,” Rywelski explained. “By being engaged and connected through technology, the consumer is in the driver’s seat and likes having that freedom. Self-scheduling allows the customer to submit a service request at any time — day or night.”