Pest management professionals (PMPs) are getting creative and thinking of new ways to keep themselves, their employees and their customers safe to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
For example, Pest Management Systems Inc. (PMi) launched TECHTIME, a new service that provides customers — and potential customers — expert pest control advice quickly and safely.
“TECHTIME has given us the opportunity to help people much more readily, and ease their concerns,” says Billy Tesh, owner of the Greensboro, N.C.-based company. “We wanted to make it easier for our technicians to have a contactless connection.”
HOW IT WORKS
The service uses the video chat technology customers already have on their smartphones or tablets — FaceTime on Apple devices and Google Duo on Android devices — to connect with a pro who can see the pest problem in real-time. There’s no need to download a special app.
During the video call, one of the company’s registered technicians or certified customer service representatives identifies the insects or pests, putting the customer’s mind at ease immediately, in most cases. If further inspection is required, an in-person appointment is scheduled.
For instance, a distressed customer who may believe she found a bed bug that actually is a carpet beetle would not need a technician out at her house that day. But a customer who thinks she has flying ants that in reality are swarming termites will have a PMP at her door within the hour.
A special landing page on the PMi website makes scheduling a time to chat more convenient for customers and employees. It includes an option for customers to upload a photo and include details about the problem they are experiencing.
Tesh says he has been using FaceTime at work for a long time, so his team is comfortable with the chat service. “It wasn’t anything new to me, because for years I had technicians who would say, ‘Hey, could you look at this? Let me call you up or send you a picture.’”
TECHTIME helps ensure communication between the customer and PMi staff is clear and concise.
“We still have to go out there to physically fix the problem, but we don’t have to have as much contact with the customer,” Tesh says. “Sometimes I tell the customer I am going to take a screenshot of the video and send it to the technician, who will know exactly where to look.”
TECHTIME isn’t just for PMi customers.
“It’s available to potential customers or my competitors’ customers who are not happy because they couldn’t get an answer from their pest control guy,” he says. “To us, it’s just another competitive advantage.”
After decades in the pest control business, Tesh knows people can be scared because they don’t know the facts about the animals and insects they encounter. “We want to try to relieve them of that anxiety,” he says. “One of the ways we calm them down is by having that conversation, positively identifying the pest, and going over how the problem can be fixed.”
The Pest Management Professional Hall of Famer (Class of 2017) says TECHTIME cost the company next to nothing. His team created the dedicated landing page, and he registered the TECHTIME servicemark, noting companies that want to do the same can call the service whatever they want.
“It doesn’t cost anything, because all you’re doing is encouraging customers to take advantage of the technology at their fingertips,” he adds.
Tesh says a service call always is preferable, but these are unprecedented times that call for using the tools we have. “Nothing will ever replace the connection between the pest control company and the customer like a one-on-one,” he adds. “The key is getting back to customers almost immediately about their situations.”