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Avoid This Pitfall When Going Paperless

Ginny Allen
April 3, 2019

When we talk to commercial service contracting companies about going paperless, the conversation usually starts with how they envision paperless processes will benefit their back offices by saving time and money. They want to send invoices faster, save money on postage, and reduce tech phone time.

Going paperless definitely results in these and other improvements in administrative efficiency. But once companies start making the transition, we usually hear that it takes their techs longer to fill out a form on a tablet or their phone than it did on paper.  And we don’t disagree with them. Pencil whipping paperwork is just faster.

However, these same companies find that moving the information online is worth every bit of additional effort when the ultimate goal is to make your customers’ lives easier. Going paperless necessarily means capturing, organizing and communicating that information in a more effective way that meets (and hopefully exceeds) your customers’ expectations.  If you focus solely on the administrative efficiencies, you’ll miss the bigger picture – the opportunity to improve the customer experience and drive scalable growth.

What Do Your Customers Expect?

In short, they expect access to the information they want, when they want it. (You can thank companies like Netflix and Amazon for this on-demand mentality.)  Remember when you used to have to watch the local news to get the weather forecast? Or better yet, when the Weather Channel made everyone’s lives a little bit better when they brought us weather every ten minutes through their segment local on the 8s? Today, you just open your favorite weather app on your phone, or, if you’re like my 5 year old, you just ask Alexa.     

Your customers’ expectations are similar when it comes to engaging with you.  Imagine a facility manager or building owner who has been running between meetings all day. He finally gets some desk time – at 9 pm, and wants an update on the work that was performed by your techs earlier that day. He needs details now and he can’t wait to call your office tomorrow morning when your first staff person arrives at 8 am.  

How Going Paperless Improves Customer Experience

The most detailed information in the world is of little use to your customers if it’s all on paper copies of quotes, work orders, and invoices filed away somewhere in your office.  Or if they have to call your office during normal business hours to get it. Let’s look at a few ways going paperless improves the customer experience and strengthens customer relationships.

The customer can engage with you 24/7 from any device.

Like I said, today’s consumer expects access to the information they need, when they need it.  We can do everything from our phones these days. Order groceries. Buy a birthday present. Make a tee time. Why not make it as easy as possible for your customers to engage with you?  So whether they need to submit a service request, review the work your techs did that day, or approve a quote, they can easily do so from their computer or phone.

The customer can speak with any employee to get an update.

They don’t have to wait until you track down the person (or people) who did the work.  So when a new tech goes out on a service call, he can quickly see what work has been done on a piece of equipment by previous techs by looking at the service history.  He can immediately jump into an intelligent conversation with the customer, and not have to tell the customer he’s going to have to get back with him after he makes a phone call.

Building trust isn’t limited to face-to-face interactions.

As you grow, it’s difficult to scale the personal touch that you built your company on. The good news is, going paperless provides ways to build trust through online interactions with customers.  You can’t attach pictures, videos, and audio notes to paperwork. You can’t tell a rich story about the services provided with paperwork. All you get is chicken scratch in broken English. Going paperless means collecting rich media in an organized way that lets you easily share it with your customers and show them what’s going on with equipment.

Share urgent or essential information with customers in real time.    

I remember the first time my weather app sent me a push notification about a serious storm that was sweeping through the area. I was about to leave my office and head home. Because of that notification, I made the safer decision and delayed my commute until the storm passed.

You can do the same for your customers. Take the facility manager or building owner from my earlier example. Would he prefer to be notified about a serious equipment issue while you are on site and can address it, or wait to get a call about it later, which forces him to schedule another call and wait for you to come back out? You guessed it.  When it comes to information that is essential to your customers, sooner is better. Pushing notifications to your customers regarding essential or urgent information will set you far ahead of your competition.

Ready to Get Started?

Anyone who started down the road of going paperless will tell you it takes more than scanning all those piles of paper into pdfs and saving them to your desktop.  Going paperless is a big step in the bigger journey of digital transformation – a journey that requires a company to take a closer look at their business processes and how they deliver customer service.

To realize the full benefits of going paperless, don’t limit your business by thinking small and focusing solely on administrative efficiencies. The real value is in improvements to customer engagement and service. A better customer experience means happier customers and a competitive advantage in your market.  Going paperless allows you to leverage the power of the internet to drive truly scalable growth.

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