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    'Customer experience' means the value of the total journey of a customer’s interactions with your company

    'Customer Experience' is Critical for Contractors

    Aug. 5, 2021
    For contractors, it’s about more than just customer satisfaction. Customer service has been elevated to include all dealings with the customer, and dubbed “customer experience” or CX.

    Just a few years ago, companies only had to worry about delivering good customer service. Satisfy the customer, and they’ll tell three friends. Make a customer upset, and they’ll shout it from the rooftops to anyone who’ll listen — on average, about 10 people. This adage was critical for companies before the internet and social media.

    New technology and new generations of people have made customer service even more important, because an unsatisfied customer can reach thousands, even millions, with just a few taps on their warrior-keyboard. Customer service has been elevated to include all dealings with the customer, and dubbed “customer experience” or CX. This relatively new term means the value of the total journey of a customer’s interactions with your company — from first discovery to online or in-person research, to hiring you, to follow-up afterward.

    New technology and new generations of people have made customer service even more important, because an unsatisfied customer can reach thousands, even millions, with just a few taps on their warrior-keyboard. 

    CX is the new focus of businesses in every industry — and getting it wrong could cost you sales, market share, or even the viability of your business plan.

    You likely have several reports containing key metrics that you monitor. You likely keep track of the competition and market to ensure you offer the right products and services at competitive prices. You probably look at leads generated and how many convert into sales. These are all excellent best practices to help ensure the success of your business.

    But do you measure CX? A simple measurement asks your customers: On a 0-10 scale, how likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague? The percentage difference between customers who score you as a 9-10 versus customers who score you from 0-6 is called your Net Promoter Score, or NPS. The closer your score is to being positive and 100, the better your customer experience is and the more customers are promoting your business to others.

    You can also measure other components of CX, such as satisfaction, retention, loyalty, waiting time, or ease of purchasing. Regardless of the measurements you choose, CX is much more than evaluating whether a customer was satisfied in just one transaction, and more about how satisfied they were in every step along the way. Do they feel a positive connection to your brand after the purchase?

    CX is the new focus of businesses in every industry — and getting it wrong could cost you sales, market share, or even the viability of your business plan.

    The gold standard of customer experience is Disney. Why? Because they’re not just selling rides, food or even Mickey Mouse Ears. They’re creating an experience, which forges an emotional connection to their customers. Each employee — or cast member — is charged with making you happy and creating magical moments. Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute provides these Disney principles that your business can follow: 1) Create a common organizational purpose; 2) Understand your customers holistically; and 3) View exceptional service as an economic asset rather than an expense.

    Start Asking Questions

    How can you evaluate your customer experience? Start by asking some of the questions above in the steps of your process. Have customers fill out a quick questionnaire covering all key touchpoints, such as your website, the sales process, installation, payments, etc.

    How can you evaluate your customer experience? Start by asking some of the questions above in the steps of your process. Have customers fill out a quick questionnaire covering all key touchpoints, such as your website, the sales process, installation, payments, etc.

    After you ask the questions, “answer” them by acting on the feedback. Based on your analysis of what’s working and what’s not, you’ll be able to decide which things you should stop doing, what you should start doing, and what you should continue doing. Find out exactly what you did to make someone a promoter of your business, and recognize what may have happened to make someone a detractor, and address it.

    To improve your customer experience, here are significant areas you can review in your contracting business that can be “low hanging fruit.”

    Go Mobile

    Make sure your website and many of your processes are mobile-friendly. You don’t need an app from the app store to make it a great experience. It can be as simple as making sure your website looks good and functions well on a mobile device. While you’re at it, review your website for the messages it conveys. Does this site match the brand for your business?

    Communication

    It’s been said that if you can follow up with a lead within five minutes, you have a much greater chance of getting the customer than if you respond even 30 minutes later. Invest in speed. By investing in both the processes and tools required to get back to your customers quickly, you not only improve the customer’s experience, but you also increase close rates. The quick mouse gets the cheese.

    It’s been said that if you can follow up with a lead within five minutes, you have a much greater chance of getting the customer than if you respond even 30 minutes later. Invest in speed. 

    One way to increase speed is through automated emails and processes. When a customer asks you to measure an area to get a quote, send them an email, setting expectations on timing. How long does it take you to get back to someone on that estimate? If it takes you 3-5 business days, how can you make it one day? Anything you do slowly is an opportunity for your competitors to steal your business.

    Consider Your Third Parties

    Most of us use third parties for payment options, marketing or subcontracting. The companies you utilize are an extension of the customer experience, and impact the perception of your business. Make sure they reflect the same values you have. Before bringing the company on, learn as much as you can about them. If a bad experience happens with one of your third-party companies or with a subcontractor, who gets the blame? Most of the time, it’s you.

    Contractors should consider customer experience, not just customer satisfaction, to make their business more relevant and profitable today. By reviewing how customers interact with you, you’ll be more successful, gain more leads and close more sales. Plus, satisfied customers might even tell the world about what a great company you lead. Wouldn’t everyone want a team of “outside salespeople” talking up their business?

    Rob Palmer is the executive vice president and bank operations manager for EnerBank USA®, a nationwide provider of unsecured home improvements loans. He oversees operations and IT, as well as serving as the chairman of the EnerBank IT Committee. Rob has more than 25 years of experience delivering complex people-based, technology-driven solutions.