How to cost-effectively turn your customers into raving fans

February 4, 2021
General

There is no better marketing tool than customers who will voluntarily recommend your service to others.

Providing reliable and concise communication to your customers is the cheapest, most underrated approach to drastically improving the customer experience. Below we discuss how you can improve your communications to turn your customers into raving fans while empowering staff along the way.

1. Streamline your internal communications

It may seem strange to suggest improving internal communications to impress your customers, but when staff are well informed, they feel empowered and are most likely to work as a team.

“Clients don’t come first, staff come first.
If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”
– Richard Branson

An efficient flow of information between staff can not only save the company time but creates a harmonious workplace and promotes buy-in from staff. Encourage a culture where staff are proactively speaking to each other and not sitting in silos. This may include the handover of client-related information or publishing company-wide news to all staff no matter what their role.

Staff should also be familiar with your company website. The last thing you want is a customer knowing more about the company and what’s happening in the business than a staff member.

Action items

  • Ask the staff for feedback. eg: “Dear [team member], I’d like your input. Where do you see room for improvement in our communication? Is there someone before you in the process who could improve the information provided?
  • Explore apps such as Slack which enable you to quickly post updates to all staff or create separate ‘channels’ per department. No matter where they are, they’ll receive a notification.

2. Streamline your external communications

While face to face and phone calls remain a significant ingredient in quality customer communications and service, imagine the customer being notified automatically by text or email each time the job’s status is updated as the job progresses.

You’d be surprised just how much more value is perceived by your customers.

Again, removing silos is equally important. Imagine a staff member falls ill. Is there somewhere another staff member can gain access to all the information relating to the job? Ie: Status, important dates, contact names, costings etc.

That way, if an enquiry is made, the information is readily available. Nowadays there is no reason why customers should be faced with “Johns not here today so I’m not sure how your job is going”.

Imagine if the notes from your initial enquiry are carried through to quoting, project management and invoicing. It saves on discrepancies and provides clarity for everyone.

Go with Johns Plumbing, they know their stuff.

Action Items

  • Whether your business model is B2B or B2C, software can help staff to enhance communications with your clients or contractors. Many job management systems can be set up to automatically trigger notifications. If not automatically, simply include email and/or phone calls in your process. eg: “When job changes to In-Progress, email client to notify”

Turn those existing customers into raving fans and before you know it, referrals will be coming thick and fast.

3. Document your procedures

This one can be difficult to get off the ground but possibly the most important. It does take some work for each staff member to actually document their activities but with a clear explanation of how this will benefit the client, the staff and the company as a whole, you’ll soon have everything documented.

How often do you find yourself or staff waiting for someone to get back on holidays for something to happen? When really, centralised documentation gives you full control of who has access to this vital information when it’s needed.

Over time you should be building an internal knowledgebase of procedures so that no matter who is where and when procedures continue as intended. This will also form a vital ingredient of your continuity plan.

Manage the process, not the people.

In those procedures should be documented where to find things, what to do in certain circumstances, what steps to follow, contact details and more. Ideally, this is a digital system where you can link to documents, websites and data can be more readily kept up to date.

Include the following:

  • Contact details: Names, number & email addresses of people the role requires for correspondence. This may include suppliers, staff and any additional resources
  • A file directory: Everything should be kept on a shared company storage system anyway but it should still be made clear where important files are kept.
  • Documented Procedures: A step-by-step explanation of what to do and when. Are these tasks due on a particular day? Who needs to be contacted? What needs to be done?

Action Items

  • Look into cloud services such as Google Workspace. It brings documents, email, calendars, storage and everything into one place for a monthly subscription.
  • Look for software aimed specifically at your industry. Eg: Unleashed is built specifically to manage inventory. Groundplan is built specifically for the Takeoff and Estimating process.
  • If technology is not your thing, you may want to speak to someone like Tradiepad who specialise in helping Trades integrate technology.

Clear communication benefits everyone, yet all too often remains neglected. Improve your stream of communication from the office, to the field and on to the customer and you’ll have raving fans doing the marketing for you in no time.