Brad Jenson, executive vice president of business development for Podium Corp., was the Wednesday keynote speaker for ServicePro’s ServSuite University taking place Feb. 19-21, in Nashville, Tenn. Podium, a Lehi, Utah-based customer interaction platform provider, is the event’s platinum sponsor.
Jenson told attendees that thanks to a combination of social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and online review sites, today’s consumers know more, want more, share more, do more and are more mobile. “Every day, that is increasing,” he added about the last point. “Instead of bringing a laptop, people are starting to just bring their smartphone to meetings, for example.”
Pest management firms need to not only make sure they’re easily found online, but that their presence is optimized for mobile devices. Jenson encouraged attendees in real-time to search for their firms on their phones for the Google MyBusiness listing. “This gives your ratings, your location, your information,” he said. If your phone system can accept and receive text messages, make that known on your profile, he advised, noting that on average, a service representative can respond to three text messages in the time it takes to complete one phone call.
“It’s actually better to have potential leads message you, because now you have their information in your pocket,” Jenson said. “Nobody can ‘not’ check texts. It reaches that person because they’re conditioned to check their phone.”
This is especially important after the visit, when you solicit an online review. Jenson quoted studies that found less than 20 percent of emails are read in a personal email account. By comparison, he said, texts have an open rate of 99 percent — 90 percent of which happens within three minutes of receipt. For those worried about breaking spam regulations, soliciting feedback from an existing customer does not fall under those parameters and is acceptable in the eyes of the law, Jenson said.
“Set an expectation for the review,” he said. “Train your technicians to let customers know when and how to expect to receive an invite — ideally, as a text before the tech leaves the premises — and why it’s important: ‘If you could leave us an honest account of our service today, it really helps us be the best in the business.’”
Keep it simple
But asking for the review is only part of the equation. They may only be willing until they find out they have to sign in or jump through hoops to leave feedback, Jenson said. That’s why you need to make it a frictionless process: “The easier it is to leave feedback, the more feedback you’ll receive,” he said.
This kind of instant feedback extends down to the home page of your website, where it’s easy to install a widget that says “Hi there! Have a question? Text us here,” Jenson explained. “You’ve got them texting you, it’s easier to convert that interest to customers.”
Jenson asked Marissa, an attendee who is a Podium user, to explain the benefits she’s seen in her Athens, Ga.-based firm. Although throughout the presentation, Jenson was quick to note that there are a variety of online review management tools on the market, and encouraged attendees to explore what works for them, Marissa brought up yet another benefit to text-based communication with customers: “It’s helped our collections rate, because a quick reminder text sent just once often results in them getting in immediate contact with us to say ‘I’m so sorry, I didn’t know we had an outstanding bill.’”
Jenson reminded attendees, too, that getting one bad review on occasion, something that you can address and learn from, isn’t the end of the world. He told them to consider the longtime management tenet that “that which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.” After all, Sir Richard Branson, the multi-billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, agrees with the sentiment: “You can never have enough feedback, and you can never stop learning.”