Over the past two decades, mobile phone usage has skyrocketed. A 2018 study found that 95% of Americans own a cell phone. Of that group of individuals, 77% use a smart phone. While in the past, mobile phones were used primarily for personal use, they can now have a huge impact on business.
But have you really taken advantage of the power of mobility and comprehensively integrated it throughout your business? Or are your employees leveraging mobility with their personal cell phones, without any guidance and control from management? If so, your business and customer relationships could be at risk and your service techs could be lacking efficiency.
Owning the Customer Relationship
If we were to ask you, “Who owns your customer relationship?” it’s likely that you would think, “My business does, of course”. But is that really true? In reality, whoever the customer calls first when they have a problem or a question is the true owner of the customer relationship. If your service techs are handing out their cell phone number for customers to contact them, then they own the customer relationship, not you!
If your service tech owns the relationship, then they control if the customer’s call is answered in a timely fashion, how it is handled, and how fast a call is returned. They effectively own the quality of your customer service. You are responsible for customer service outcomes, but you no longer own the means to control it. Your reputation now rests entirely on that one tech. While the individual tech may be great, they can’t be available 100% of the time. They can only focus on one customer at a time. They can’t scale.
Even scarier, if that service tech leaves your company, they take the customer with them. The customer is calling the tech, not your company. You’ve lost control of the relationship and that means you could lose the customer.
The Benefit of Owning the Customer Relationship
The benefits of truly owning the customer relationship are extensive. When the customer calls your business first, you can bring the full power of your organization to bear on delivering great customer service and managing the experience. This creates happy customers. Some of the ways you can achieve this are:
Create Faster Answer Times
As already mentioned, one service tech can’t be available 100% of the time. When customers call your company rather than the tech’s cell phone, you control the call routing. With modern phone systems, you can ensure the call is handled quickly. The system can intelligently check availability of your service techs, identify an available tech, and route the call to them. Smart phone systems can check whether a person is on the phone, what their schedule is, and their personal status. If no techs are available, the call could be routed to your customer service team, or escalated to a manager. The end result is getting a live person talking to a customer faster.
Define Your “Open Hours” Policy
When a customer calls your service techs’ mobile phone late in the evening, your tech may feel required to answer, leaving them working excess hours and feeling overworked. Or, they may send it to voicemail where your customer won’t get the attention they need. Because you have control of the phone number, you can mitigate both of these situations. Depending on your business plan, you can determine if you want to redirect all calls after a certain point to an after-hours customer rep, send the call to a dedicated voicemail inbox that will dictate when your customer can expect a call back, forward the call to an answering service, or some other best solution for your business. You control the experience and can determine the best solution for customers.
Takeover Call Management
When you own the customer relationship, you can manage it. With calls coming to the system, you can log all calls and track a record of customer contacts. You know the last time your team talked to a customer and how quickly calls were returned. If the caller is reaching your service tech directly on a cell phone, then that information is unavailable to you.
Call management can be taken to the next level by recording calls. This gives you the ability to review calls to ensure quality, help with employee training, and resolve customer disputes by reviewing previous phone calls. You have the ability to influence the outcome of your customer interactions.
By taking over the ownership of your customer calls, and how they’re managed once they do call in, means that you truly own the relationship. Not only are they calling your business, but you are controlling what happens to their call once it occurs. As an added bonus you keep the customer calling you if your service tech leaves. Owning the customer relationship reduces customer turnover.
The Cost of Customer Turnover
How much does it cost you to replace a lost customer? Industry studies show that the average cost to acquire a new customer compared to just keeping an existing customer is five times higher. Long-term customers also tend to buy more products and services and they do it with less selling. Spend a moment to consider how much an existing customer is worth to you and then consider the impact of losing several when a tech leaves and takes the customer relationship with them.
Taking Control of the Customer Relationship
It’s easy to say that you want customers to call your company directly, and not call the service tech, but how do you make this happen? It’s not easy! Before you lose any more customers to your service techs’ mobile phone, you need to take control. To get started, consider the following:
Achieve Employee Buy In
It might seem simple to announce a communications policy by telling your service techs that they have to follow it. Unfortunately, buy in from your service techs will affect how successful adoption is. If they aren’t incentivized to take part in the new policy, they can simply continue offering customers their phone number directly. You will need to demonstrate how mobile enablement will benefit your service techs, helping them want to participate in your new communications strategy. You should demonstrate the benefits of this policy to the service tech:
Improve Work/Life Balance. There is a tendency in America to glorify overworking. People brag about the long hours they work, but those long hours result in unhappy workers (who are also less productive). Having the company handle calls protects the service tech from demanding customers. Service techs don’t receive out of hours phone calls. They aren’t being called on lunch or breaks. This results in happier, more productive workers. The company is doing its part and the tech has a more balanced life.
Reduce Stress. Good service techs want to help. They try to respond to their customers. This can cause them to become stressed particularly when they are already engaged with a customer and a second customer calls. Not only does this impact the quality of work they are doing, but it greatly increases their stress. When the company owns the call, the tech can set their personal status to “Working With a Customer,” and not get that second call. They can stay focused.
Offload Problem Customers. It’s common for techs to receive calls that should go to a different department, such as billing or scheduling. When this happens they have to try to handle the problem or ask the customer to hang up and call back. Using a Unified Communications (UC) client and accessing the built-in call directory, the tech can easily forward the call to the right individual, saving time for them and the customer.
Get Help More Easily. Everyone needs help sometimes, even the best tech. With a UC client that supports a company directory, Instant Messaging, and video collaboration the tech can reach out and get help quickly and easily. This makes their job easier.
By mobile enabling your service team, you can offer them more benefits if the customer calls the company. These advantages encourage the tech not to take customer calls directly. Mobile enablement means that your customer has a whole team behind them, no matter what their effort is.
Achieve Customer Buy In
Your customers will also have to learn to call your business line as opposed to the service tech’s mobile phone. You need to communicate how calling the company will provide them a better experience. This includes:
Accelerating Response Times. Customers don’t want to wait on the phone. The industry standard is that customers want their calls answered in 12-14 seconds. Calling one service tech on a cell phone sometimes achieves this, but often doesn’t. Make the customer aware of your average answer times (good phone systems will offer you a report that sows that time to answer).
Always Getting A Live Answer. A single service tech can’t answer all of the calls. This means the customer will sometimes go to voicemail. Guarantee a live answer with intelligent phone routing on your system and customer will quickly see the benefit.
Getting to the Right Department Sooner. Customers don’t want to remember or keep track of multiple contact numbers. They want to call one number to solve their problems. Calling the company number rather than the service tech gives them easier access to all of your company departments so they get the right person on the phone sooner.
Mobile enablement and owning the customer relationship benefits the customer too. You just need to help them see the benefits. Once they start calling your company, they will quickly see the advantages if you have the system set up the right way.
By mobile enabling your workforce, you’re ensuring that you’re always owning the customer relationship and contributing to customer satisfaction. You’re providing your service techs with tools that will support their role and alleviating them from call management responsibilities. Mobile enabling your service techs is simple. Contact Vertical Communications at 877-VERTICAL (877-837-8422) or by filling out the form below. Vertical can help you review your options and deliver a solution that fits the unique needs of your business.