Service Contracting value no longer begins and ends in the driveway or parking lot of the customer. Showing up on time in clean uniforms and doing the job correctly are simply table stakes in a world where everyone is seeking the attention of the customer from every corner of the globe. Billboards in your service area with catchy slogans and stickers on equipment in the crawl space or on the roof are also no longer the standard for making an impression. The opportunity to serve your customer and be relevant to them extends to the boundaries of the Internet. Perpetual service is both a mindset and a technology approach to creating enduring value for your service contracting business. It is about a capability that affixes your brand first and foremost in the mind of the customer so that you extract the maximum value from every service call and from every service opportunity.
The Brand Premium
Branding is all about the experience a customer has with your company. Historically, that experience occurred exclusively in physical space – their home or business location, on the highway next to one of your trucks, in a local newspaper, on a billboard. Increasingly, that experience is defined by the Internet – their email inbox, the browser on their tablet, smartphone, or laptop, LinkedIn, their text application, Twitter, Facebook, Google. Companies that are absolutely not in the service contracting business are nonetheless becoming relevant and extracting a brand premium based upon their Internet expertise – Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Porch, FM Facility Maintenance. Being local is no longer a requirement for brand relevance in service contracting. If your brand is not first and foremost with your customer, you will simply become the labor bureau for some other brand. Your business will be managing trucks and technicians for a small markup on your fully loaded labor expense – if you are lucky. With perpetual service, you establish a brand connection with the customer that allows your company to extract the full value from each service opportunity without some intermediate party skimming the brand premium off the top. If your brand is not where it can be easily found (inbox, browser, etc.), you will become increasingly irrelevant in a connected world.
The Technology Mandate
Connecting with your customer using technology cannot be an afterthought – it must be built into the way you deliver service. It is not an appendage, it is the core of the business. Every service activity that you take should yield a corresponding brand impression with the customer. A technician indicating he is enroute to the job yields a text message or email to the customer indicating who is coming, their estimated arrival time and how to contact them in case the plan has changed. A photo of impaired equipment yields a web impression educating the customer about the perils of poor equipment maintenance and asking them to approve a quote to execute the repair. A request to sign off on the job yields a full color service review on the tablet with before and after photos and acknowledgement of other items that should get attention from your company. A service delivered yields a request for an online review that generates localized search content to place your web search results above others in your market. A freeze warning email the night before a hard freeze cements your value with your customers, and you spend the next day picking up the customers of others that did not forewarn – and you stick to them like glue because of your technology enabled perpetual service capability. Smart meter monitoring on the electrical circuits and the water meters lets you react before the failed freezer spoils thousands in inventory and before the failed toilet connector floods the home with 4 inches of water at 3am. Embracing technology is critical in the quest for perpetual service value.
The Cloud and Mobile Gateway
These technology enabled service capabilities, along with ever important productivity enhancements stemming from perpetual connections not only to your customers but also to your technicians and to your suppliers and business partners, will not be centered on a PC server running in the office closet. You have likely already moved your website into the stewardship of a digital marketing firm that hosts it at some reliable cloud provider. Why did you do that? Because the online connection to your customer is too important to entrust to a fragile, ill maintained, difficult to use and stagnant operating environment on a PC server in your office. The only effective connection to a PC server in your office is via the local area network, and very little of what matters in your business happens in the office. Perpetual service is not possible until you move your operations to the cloud. If you insist on leaving your accounting in a closet, that is fine because your accounting capability WILL NOT distinguish you with your customers. Running your service operations on a PC server and expecting that server to be at the center of the connected world of service contracting is lunacy.
The ServiceTrade Promise
ServiceTrade is not the answer to all perpetual service opportunities. We are simply a leading voice in the connected world of perpetual service. If you want your service capability to drive perpetual service connections to your customers, we are a good choice as one of your service technology partners. If you want to be the foremost brand in your market and extract the corresponding premium instead of being relegated to being the labor bureau for another brand, tune into what we and others are saying about perpetual service.