By Billy Marshall, CEO, ServiceTrade
Why do service contractors wrap their trucks and vans with logos, brand promises, and contact information?
Simple. As they deliver service in their coverage area they want both their customers and prospective customers to see their brand in the neighborhood. Ideally, the logo and the brand promise are memorable, and the simple act of delivering service will yield future service opportunities.
There are a couple of important principles that are demonstrated by the near-universal popularity of the truck wrap as a brand-building medium:
1. It’s ideally targeted because it only appears in the areas you serve. Aside from joy-rides by the technicians on the weekends, the impressions you deliver have a near 100% probability of being relevant to the audience.
2. It requires no extra effort by the technician that could potentially distract from the most important task of delivering quality service to the customer. The technician does not have to remember to turn on the wrap or do anything extra to get the impressions.
The truck wrap works because it is targeted and easy to administer. Using these principles, how might a service contractor gain impressions in their coverage area as easily as the truck wrap delivers impressions? What other simple artifacts of delivering good service, similar to simply driving the truck to the service location, might yield favorable customer and prospect awareness?
The “digital wrap” is your company’s cumulative online presence. When done correctly, it’s a proactive and modern system for delivering exceptional customer service, for uncovering new opportunities with customers, and for remaining constantly visible to customers so they know whom to call when service is needed. The “digital wrap” is valuable and available to customers before, during, and after service appointments.
Elements of the “digital wrap” include online reviews from happy customers, a modern, up-to-date website, electronic quotes, branded emailed service updates, educational emails, well-designed invoices and your social media presence. These digital calling cards gain impressions because they are so easy to move around in the online world.
The “digital wrap” only works if the service contractor truly embraces a digital approach. This approach shouldn’t incur extra steps on the part of the technician or the office staff to get the benefits of going digital, instead of simply going paperless. Anything extra will be ignored in the chaos of everyday operations.
Using technology wisely on site to collect information about your customers and their equipment, and using that information to regularly serve and educate customers are at the junction of service delivery and executing the “digital wrap.”
Essential principles of going digital
- Systematically collect and store customer email addresses. Make this requirement part of every interaction.
- Find opportunities to migrate processes like scheduling, dispatch notifications, job review and invoicing, and estimates/quoting to email and the web. NOTE – scanning the tired old forms and attaching them to an email doesn’t cut it. That approach is just extra work in the office or the field, and will promptly be ignored by your staff.
- Use photos, video, audio and other rich media to spice up your impressions and engage the customer more dramatically in the service review process. Seek service management solutions that integrate these critical elements seamlessly, not as an afterthought.
- Collect and manage more information (equipment information, service preferences, key contacts) for each customer to provide better context for your communications and to demonstrate the quality of stewardship regarding their property and equipment. Let them be surprised by the thoroughness and organization of the engagement.
5 reasons the “digital wrap” is a superior marketing tool
1. It’s easy to search.
Customers don’t have to remember much because of the power of email and web searches.
2. It’s easy to store.
Customers are less likely to throw away the electronic communication because it costs nothing to store it. They throw away their pink copy of the triplicate form left behind by the technician, rendering it worthless as a brand-building medium.
3. It’s rich and engaging.
On the web, the richness of the interaction can be extraordinary. Photos, references, recommendations, links to other items of interest all draw the customer into the brand and make it memorable.
4. It’s memorable.
Web engagement is easy to instrument and measure. The digital footprints of the customer through the online experience can be used to improve the reaction to their needs.
5. It’s affordable.
The computer processing power to deliver the impressions is much less expensive than the labor associated with phone calls or the expense of actually showing up at a physical address.
A key principle in going digital is to change where the customer is engaged. Instead of the limitations of the physical street address and even the phone number, a digital approach engages the customer online to lower the administrative burden of the interaction and increase the likelihood that the impression sticks with the customer.
This all sounds really great and positive, and it is, but it doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. Implementing a “digital wrap” takes a commitment to make a change and stick with it until you realize the rewards. Changing workflows that have been on paper, spreadsheets or whiteboards into digital formats will streamline the way your front office and field technicians work together. Implementing a field service management solution will help the transition to digital by becoming the hub for your “digital wrap,” customer experience and streamlined service operations.
All of these relatively small online innovations add up to a customer experience that mirrors what the online retailers have done to attract and retain customers. In the online retail world, it’s normal and expected that you have an account where information reflecting typical customer service capability is stored and actionable. Expecting service contracting businesses to be held to a different and lower standard for customer service in the future isn’t reasonable. The “digital wrap” is the service contractor equivalent of the online account for retail customer service. It completes the shopping and buying experience for services and makes the contractor memorable and valuable beyond the value of the service labor.
Any service company can apply these principles now without an outlay of capital for new hardware or software. Here at ServiceTrade, we make it easier by automating some of the process so the “digital wrap” becomes part of the service delivery, instead of separate manual steps that are too easy to overlook in the busyness of the day.
ServiceTrade CEO Billy Marshall is an entrepreneur and technology leader experienced with building companies and developing innovative products. His passion in business is using a new and different approach, whether marketing or technology, and preferably both, to give customers a remarkable value and breakthrough capability.