What Uber Means for Your Business
If you haven't used services such as Uber, Netflix, DoorDash, Amazon, or Postmates, it's likely you've heard of at least a few of them. These companies have changed the way millions of people hail rides, see films, and order takeout in such a radical way that countless other industries are scrambling to adopt similar principles to entice their customers.
This includes the trades. While there have been unsuccessful attempts to create an on-demand contractor service, that doesn't mean that there are certain features and functionalities that can't translate to the home services.
In fact, the youngest new homeowners among us—who are likely more accustomed to hailing a car from their smartphone than hiring a tradesperson—have come to expect these features nearly everywhere that they spend money. In a 2018 survey of homeowners, Thrive Analytics found that 66% of Millennials preferred “an Uber-like experience” when hiring a service.
Below, let's take a look at three critical on-demand principles that—with the help of the right software solution—any home service business can bring to their customers.
Principle 1: Convenience
Convenience is at the heart of what makes on-demand services attractive to consumers. When we order gifts or household items off Amazon, we don't race to a department store—we order from our couch. Same goes for Uber or Lyft—users simply confirm their location and where they want to go. In either case (and many others), customers are not burdened with a trip to some brick-and-mortar location or even a phone call.
The answer to this functionality in the trades is an online booking portal. Whether you add this type of feature to your website or your page on a significant third-party website (such as Yelp), you're giving customers a convenient, frictionless way to book services with your company.
Customers can submit the following information with their online booking:
- Phone number
- Date requested
- Time of day
- Service requested
- Any specific notes the customer wants to communicate
Once submitted, the booking can be instantly be integrated into your office's scheduling system. Your team can then dispatch a tech, adjust other tech schedules, or even call the customer to confirm details.
Why is it important?
While online booking has become the norm in many different industries, the trades have lagged a few steps behind. These other industries, however, have already recognized the importance of online appointment booking with their younger clientele. Thrive Analytics found that 50% of Millennials prefer to book appointments online rather than making a phone call—and that 65% of them wanted online access to product and service information throughout their experience.
Want more proof? In 2017, Harvard Business Review found that the greatest factor in inspiring customer loyalty was a reduction of customer effort. The writing is on the wall: booking online is a feature that customers are going to expect for the foreseeable future.
Principle 2: Transparency
Many on-demand services don't just provide convenience, they provide an unprecedented look into the process of delivering service to you. When you order takeout from DoorDash, for instance, you can check the app to see the status of your food—whether it's still being prepared, it's been picked up by your delivery person, or even when it's en route to your home. Similarly, when you order a ride from Uber or Lyft, you can track where your driver is as they make their way to pick you up. Both DoorDash and ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber provide text alerts and updates to keep customers in the loop, as well.
Arrival tracking and SMS text updates can play a powerful role in the home services. With the right digital tools, you can extend a small part of your fleet tracking capabilities to your customers, allowing them to see where their tech is while en route to their appointment—and alert them to delays, estimated arrival times, and even tech profiles via text . This kind of transparency can effectively put an end to one of the leading customer frustrations in the home services industry: wondering when a tech is actually going to arrive at a property.
Why is it important?
Tracking capabilities and status alerts really became a prominent customer service feature due to e-commerce. When we started to order more and more items online, retail providers and shipment services alike developed tools that allowed us to stay in the loop of our purchase—and these tools proved to be extremely popular. For instance, Thrive Analytics’ survey found that 68% of Millennials felt more comfortable being sent a service technician picture and bio before their upcoming appointment.
Texting also remains the communication channel of choice for millenials. The same Thrive Analytics homeowner survey found that 53% of Millennials preferred to communicate with service providers over SMS text. Compare this to traditional phone calls, which millenials have called “bizarrely invasive” or “an interruption.”
Principle 3: Personal Touch
Personalized customer service is something various industries have always strived for, but we have finally reached an age where it's not just possible—it's often expected. Services like Amazon and Netflix use algorithms to recommend specific new products and content to its customers. Food delivery services like DoorDash use customer location and prior orders to generate restaurant search results. When you get in the car of your Uber, not only does your driver already know your first name, but you may even be able to play your own music from your phone's Spotify app.
In the home services industry, there are plenty of opportunities to make your customers feel as if they’re being catered to. A comprehensive phone integration in the office, for example, can give your CSRs the information they need to greet every new caller like a long-time customer. Customer names, addresses, job histories, and intake notes can be right at your CSRs fingertips the moment they pick up the phone.
These unique customer profiles can also be accessible to techs in the field via a cloud-based app that syncs with your office system. Techs can greet homeowners by their names and be armed with specific notes taken by the CSR during the intake call. Even more important—techs can keep homeowners in the driver's seat during the purchase process by providing a vivid pricebook full of enticing options and customized estimates. The result is a convenient, streamlined online-shopping experience that looks and feels like it was tailored specifically for the customer.
Why is it important?
Millennials grew up in the information age and are accustomed to having their personal data used to facilitate better service. In fact, surveys have shown that these expectations have now expanded far beyond the internet to various other industries (such as healthcare, banking, insurance, etc.), many of which millennials are engaging with for the first time.
The numbers are decisive, as well. Access Development found that 55 percent of millennials wanted access to personalized service experiences—even from huge, established companies that traditionally did not provide them. The findings of a State of Global Customer Service survey are even more illuminating: they report that a whopping 78 percent of millennials expect customer service agents to have their contact information and purchase history before they even start speaking to them.
The good news is that there are various software tools available now to help home services professionals meet the changing expectations homeowners. ServiceTitan was not only built specifically for tradespeople—but designed to produce the same conveniences and gratification people of every age experience when using on-demand services.
Since 2012, ServiceTitan has helped thousands of home service professionals stay on the forefront of their industry. For more information about how our comprehensive software solution can ensure that your company stays a step ahead of customer expectations, call our team today or visit ServiceTitan.com to request a demo.