This article originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of WQP as "Sink or Swim"
Professionals in the water quality and treatment industry are facing a sink-or-swim moment when it comes to adopting technology. Many have already faced the pain of moving to a remote working model and are coming to understand that the old brick-and-mortar mindset for business operations is holding them back.
It all comes down to the bottom line. Protecting margins is the name of the game during such challenging times. Nobody knows what the remainder of the year or the first of the next is going to be like. To stay safe, companies need to boost efficiency to lower overhead, remain profitable and protect their cash. Current circumstances cannot be treated like just another day at the office. Without the technological tools to adapt, companies face an uncertain future.
How to Leverage Technology to Improve Customer Experience
Increasingly, contractors and water quality companies are looking at technological solutions to see them through the pandemic, turning to cloud-based platforms that can support all aspects of business: sales, dispatch, customer service and reporting.
The most pressing needs so far have been about addressing remote work issues and the need for contactless technologies to help make customers feel safe. Businesses have to recognize that consumer needs and expectations have changed, and if they do not adapt, they will be left behind. A quality customer experience matters greatly. So, any technology needs to be able to increase customer convenience. This means looking for platforms that can help to:
- Make it easy to schedule and track appointments. Younger homeowners do not want to have to call a business to book an appointment. Make it easy to book online, whether through a Google Local Service integration, on the website or through a chat or text message.
- Keep customers updated. Do not keep homeowners in the in the dark about when a technician will arrive. If UPS or Grubhub can provide real-time updates to customers about when a package or food will be delivered, your business should be able to do the same. That is what consumers expect.
- Keep track of repeat customer information. When a business receives a request from a repeat customer, the CSR needs to be able to access all of their contact and payment information and service history immediately and conveniently. These details will improve customer interactions by office staff and help technicians provide a white-glove experience on the jobsite.
- Boost technician performance. Some platforms can help systemize diagnostic and analysis processes, ensuring consistent service no matter which technician is on a call. They can also give technicians immediate access to technical documentation and guides.
- Facilitate financing. Being able to easily integrate real-time financing into a service call will pay off. Companies and consumers are concerned about maintaining their reserves of their cash right now. So, now more than ever, making it easy for them to buy is an important workflow.
- Increase marketing ROI. Software can help companies better zero in on their target customers to allow them to be leaner and meaner with marketing dollars. Companies can ensure that marketing offers are going to the right people and be able to track results to see what kind of return on investment they are getting.
When adopting new technology, business leaders need to carefully plan for the change management process. If they jump into purchasing technology without being able to explain how it will benefit their teams, they are going to run into resistance. Always communicate the “why” behind adopting the new technology. Key stakeholders or influencers in the company need to be involved early on in the process. If managers can get the team’s main influencers on board, it will help overcome implementation challenges.
Before pulling the trigger on investing in new technology, business owners or managers need to answer some basic questions. How can this improve the lives of my team and my customers? What is the game plan for moving forward? Just making a snap judgment and then dumping the implementation of the technology on a team is a recipe for disaster.
Make sure the technology under consideration is actually going to make things easier for the people who will be using it. Develop a plan and a strategy with clear metrics for measuring how implementation is working out.
The Bottom Line
Always remember that implementing new technology should be focused on improving the experience of the end customer. By gathering better data and putting it to use to maintain a quality customer experience and even exceed expectations, businesses can ensure customer loyalty. The right systems can help provide the world-class service that will let water quality and treatment professionals shine in the industry.