In-home Sales and Service: Four Ways To Delight Customers and Drive Bottom-Line Results

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Every experience a customer has with a field representative is a direct reflection of their brand. Turning in-home sales and service personnel into brand ambassadors isn’t a new concept, but it’s one that requires excellent home service management from ordering through execution.

What does that look like? First, processes are streamlined across the entire value chain — from the initial customer contact to the salesperson’s first visit and through quoting, ordering, installation, and repair — all in a single frictionless solution. Customers should have self-service options throughout the engagement, and lastly, company managers and leaders have historical and predictive insights to better plan and execute.

But how many companies provide that seamless experience? According to Microsoft, one out of six companies are still running their services operations through a series of manual processes, typically piggy-backing onto a CRM or sales management application and augmented by Excel spreadsheets. The time spent and potential for error are way too high. And the customer experience suffers. If that describes your organization, it’s time to start thinking about a better way.

Let’s follow an example scenario of what your in-home sales and service process could be.

Sales and quoting

Let’s say Sarah connects with your home window furnishings company because she wants to replace all the window blinds in her house and is looking for a quote. She calls (or connects with your company on its website) for a home appointment with a sales rep.

Sarah has shared what she wants, and Anne, the customer service rep, knows it’s all a special order: assorted sizes, colors, fabrics, and styles. Anne estimates that Sarah will be spending substantially to replace all the window coverings in her large home. She adds this information to the appointment request and turns the engagement over to Tom, the scheduler.

Based on Sarah’s information, Tom knows he should send a sales rep who is skilled and experienced. Here’s where an intelligent scheduling solution comes in. Using a connected, data-driven system, Tom can automatically assign and route the ‘best’ rep, Bob, based on skills, location, availability, and individual performance patterns. Tom is ensuring the right salesperson shows up with the right knowledge and experience — it’s the beginning of establishing an impactful customer experience.

Also, with the intelligent routing capabilities offered by a connected system, Tom can include the most efficient route to Sarah’s home, saving Bob fuel and time. Then, if he gets held up in traffic, everyone is made aware and the appointment can be dynamically adjusted.

Bob arrives at Sarah’s home armed with a tablet that has access to all the details of Sarah’s initial conversation with Anne. Because Bob is using a robust, intelligent ordering solution, he can identify potential sales opportunities and make recommendations. For example, Bob has access to inventory availability based on Sarah’s choices, lead times for special orders, and visibility into upcoming demand. This information, especially when products are highly configurable or made-to-order, is critical to have while onsite. Bob has also spotted an opportunity to suggest draperies and curtain rods, which Sarah decides to add to the quote.

Sarah is impressed. All her questions are getting answered, and Bob is informed, capable and empowered to create a great experience for Sarah. Bob has the quote process down to a science and turns Sarah’s quote into a work order all from his tablet. Sarah signs the order and the sale has been made.

Installation

The window coverings have arrived and it’s on to installation. The installation process is critically important because install experiences are often where customer service is prone to suffer. All the good sentiment Bob created during the smooth sales and ordering process can be destroyed by a disappointing install. In addition, the amount of difficulty a customer experiences during the installation process ties directly to the likelihood they will recommend your company to others.

Gene is our installer. When Gene logs in for the day, he sees he’s been assigned an install at Sarah’s home for the early afternoon. Using map-based, GPS technology, Sarah is kept in the loop as Gene travels to her home, with an estimated arrival time, and visibility into his location en route. Sarah can see details about Gene, including his name and picture. Gone can be the days when service companies give a four-hour window for service and no intermediate updates. Gone can be the days when the customer is uneasy about an unidentified stranger coming to her home.

When Gene arrives, he can see all the details of Sarah’s order on his tablet. They review the goods and discuss the installation details. During the installation, Sarah decides she would like to order another window covering. Gene uses his tablet to communicate her request to Bob, and Bob immediately checks availability and sees that the added window covering can be ordered and shipped by Friday. He calls Sarah and lets her know, long before Gene has completed the initial install. Sarah’s happy again. Gene has been empowered to promote the sale, and just like Bob, he’s serving as a brand ambassador for the company.

Customer self-service

Today’s customers want multiple ways to connect, and companies need to start offering that functionality if they want to remain relevant. To do so, many companies have started using customer portals or other Internet-based points of self-service entry. These portals can allow the customer to perform some of the service call-related tasks that service agents previously managed.

Microsoft calls them customer experience homepages as a one-stop destination for end customers to book appointments, manage existing appointments, track their salesperson or installer, and provide feedback.

Actionable insights

We’ve highlighted how a transparent, connected field service solution can be used to fuel the engagement between Tom, Bob, Sarah, and Gene. The success was based on field personnel having visibility and the ability to make quick decisions based on centralized and accessible data.

On the analysis side, managers can get further insights into field utilization and capacity and the ability to better understand customer work requests — all to pinpoint improvement opportunities and drive resource optimization.

Why this all matters

Technology has empowered customers to discover and engage with brands in the way that is right for them. As customers become more adept with technology, they’ll keep demanding new ways to manage their service experiences. They expect ease and flexibility from every company they do business with.

Microsoft research suggests:

  • 80% of people are more likely to purchase from a company they feel engages with them in a personal way
  • 60% of consumers will sever their relationship if customer service is poor
  • Customers who identify as loyal customers are 5 times as likely to make repeat purchases and 4 times as likely to refer a friend as those who do not

Great moments of service drive greater brand loyalty. But delivering these moments requires companies to focus on in-home services and outcomes rather than just products. It also requires technologies that automate activities inside and outside the company, so everyone can be a brand ambassador and create great service experiences.

We can help

Hitachi Solutions has the right combination of industry and technical expertise to help your company develop and execute a comprehensive home sales and service strategy. We’ve even created our own Extended Field Service solution designed to enhance existing capabilities in Dynamics 365 Field Service, enabling both retail and professional firms to better serve clients in a home environment.

As the 2021 Microsoft D365 Field Service Partner of the Year and a finalist for the award in 2022, Hitachi Solutions has proven that it excels in delivering robust solutions for field service organizations with greater visibility and insights, optimized operations and service, increased business, and a solid foundation for growth.

Reach out to us today!