Customer Relationship Management: How To Show You Care
A business is only as healthy as its relationship with its customers.
This is true of all companies, but is perhaps most pronounced in the trade industries. As a home service provider, you aren’t selling a one-time purchase product, and you aren’t selling a subscription-based service either. Instead, you’ve got to work for your customer’s repeat business.
The catch is that they’re under no obligation to book with your company again. They’ll only do so if they’re happy with your service.
If you look at any successful heating and plumbing company, you’ll see they have a solid relationship with their customers. They work hard and strive to do the best job they can because they understand that customer happiness is what keeps the cogs turning.
So what exactly can you do to improve your relationship with your customers? How can you show you care about doing a good job and become their go-to engineer? Here are our 10 tips:
#1: Focus on communication
This seems like an obvious one, which is probably also why so many gloss over the topic. Communicating well with a customer means more than sending a booking confirmation and invoice.
Be sure to talk about your pricing, the scope of the job, time frame, and every stage in clear detail. Transparency is something that customers truly appreciate. You could even go one step further and start explaining what it is you’re actually doing for them – which is best done in layman’s terms.
#2: Send out service reminders
Service reminders benefit both company and customer. A quick reminder lets customers know that you’re keeping track of the safety of their boiler – which is one less thing for them to worry about. Not to mention, landlords have a legal obligation to get their boilers serviced once per year.
At the same time, these reminders help your business effortlessly book more jobs – especially if you offer some kind of discount with them.
The best way to send out service reminders is to automate them using software. This will ensure they’re always sent out on time and no customers are ever missed – all while taking next to no effort on your end.
#3: Keep an organised database of customer records
Messy and disorganised databases (typically those using paper) make it hard to find customer details when you need them. We recommend having one single and consolidated location for all customer information. This will ensure that you and any of your employees can access it quickly and easily (especially when a customer calls).
Your database could also include more than simply names and addresses. Take the opportunity to jot down customer preferences or notes on previous jobs which will help you offer a better and more personalised service.
#4: Be flexible and accommodate your customers
Your customers are paying for a service, and they want to feel valued. One of the best ways to show that you care about your customers is to listen to their concerns and needs, and find the best solution for them. This might take a little bit of extra time, but you have a much higher chance of cultivating a long-lasting and fruitful relationship with the customer.
You could consider having special arrangements for elderly customers, landlords with several properties, or simply be understanding and accommodating to changes in scheduling or job scope.
#5: Be on time
In the trades, it’s notoriously difficult to plan time. This is especially true for jobs later in the day when if even just a single job runs over time you’ll be knocked back for the rest of the day.
The trick here is to make sure you’re being realistic. Instead of telling your customer you’ll arrive at 2:00pm, give them a range. For example, saying 2:00 to 2:30pm means you can be up to 30 minutes “late” without having broken your promise to your customer. At the end of the day, it’s all about meeting their expectations, and therefore setting them appropriately.
Relating back to point #1, be sure to communicate with your customer if you are running late. Letting them know what’s happened (even if it’s just traffic) and when you expect to arrive means they don’t have to sit around waiting for you.
#6: Go the extra mile
People love it when they feel like a valued customer, and there’s probably no better way to do this than going the extra mile.
So, rather than doing the bare minimum and giving them nothing to complain about, do your absolute best work and give them a reason to rave about you. This could mean cleaning up properly after your job, patching up some paintwork that’s been damaged or weathered, and anything else that springs to mind while on the job.
The general gist here is to do things that you don’t have to do, but know will help your customer and won’t take too much of their time. For the small things, you may choose to mention them to your customer but not add them to the invoice. This is a clear indication that your goal is to do the best job, not just to earn a quick buck.
#7: Keep up to date with industry trends
The gas industry especially is always changing. New regulations and requirements are frequent, and it’s important to keep up to date with them to make sure you’re doing safe, legal work.
Doing this will help you maintain your professionalism and build trust with your customers. It helps show that you’re wholly committed to the industry and finding the best solutions for them.
#8: Price fairly and transparently
Pricing strategy plays a huge role in the success of your business, and it’s important to be both fair and transparent.
Ultimately, you want to make a living without charging so much you struggle to justify it or find customers.
Meanwhile, and perhaps more importantly, you need to be able to explain why your prices are what they are. Charging higher labour costs comes with an expectation for higher quality work, while a detailed breakdown in estimates, quotes, and invoices help customers understand where their money is going.
We recently wrote an article about pricing and whether gas businesses are charging their customers enough. Using data from our software, we broke down the average prices by region for common jobs. It should give you a good idea of whether you’re under (or over) pricing your services, and what this means for your business.
#9: Encourage and apply feedback
Asking your customers for feedback is a great way to understand what you could be doing better. The simple act of asking them shows that you truly care about your customers and want to provide the best service possible. You may choose to simply ask them after the job, or send out an email survey.
The most important part is then to apply relevant feedback into your workflow. Next time you do a job for that customer, they’ll notice the difference, enjoy the improved service, and respect your effort.
#10: Think for the long-term
Long-term relationships are great for any business. Striving to create them is another way you can show your customers you care about them.
There are many ways you can do this, some more abstract than others. For example, all of the above contribute to forming fruitful long-term relationships in some way or another. But you could also think about introducing loyalty programmes (such as a discounted rate if servicing your own work) or even partnerships with local businesses and agencies.
Understanding the customer: a conclusion
Running a gas engineering business is more than being a good gas engineer. You’ve got to be able to put yourself in your customers’ shoes to understand how to provide the best service possible.
Doing so will help you generate long-lasting relationships with these customers which, in turn, means you can run a more profitable, streamlined, and time-efficient business. With a loyal customer base ready to recommend your services, you’ll have much more time to focus on more important things like your service quality and personal time. In other words, it’s a self-fuelling and healthy cycle for your business.
If you’ve been thinking about implementing software into your workflow, here’s what you can do next:
- Visit our resources centre where you'll find more articles like this one and our detailed help centre.
- Start a free trial to see exactly how our software works for your business. Software is hard to visualise – let alone abstract benefits like “saving time” and “boosting profits”. This is the best way to see for yourself how it works and what benefits it brings.
- Book a demo with our customer success team to get a bespoke training and advice session. We’ll help walk you through the ins and outs of our software, how it’ll help you save time and money, and anything else that springs to mind.
- Know an engineer who's still using paper? Help them and us out by sending our software their way!