Ever since Industry 4.0 kick-started a decade ago, the world has steadily moved to digital systems. The COVID-19 pandemic gave digitization a turbo boost. Enterprises had to speed up their digital adoption strategies by about a decade.
At the start of the pandemic, businesses scrambled to shift their operations to the cloud to enable work from home and eCommerce. In the post-pandemic world, customer preferences have hardened in favor of digital. Such a digital-first ecosystem is here to stay. Here are the ways HVAC service providers can pursue to stay relevant and become more competitive in the changed realities.
1. Digitize the business to improve brand value
Enterprises operating in today’s digital-first world must digitize different facets of their business. Digitization helps them become resilient and responsive, and enhances their brand value.
Businesses need to:
- Set up digital systems for field service, inventory, CRM, marketing, finance, HR, and other business systems. Hosting digital suites and databases in the cloud enables anytime, anywhere access. Field executives, managers, and customers may access relevant functions through smartphone apps.
- Integrate digital systems natively or with APIs to ensure real-time updating of records and free flow of information. Customers value brands that quickly answer their queries and address their needs. Only agile businesses can do so, and for agility, business executives need easy and fast access to complete, live information.
2. Deploy field service management software
The HVAC space is hyper-competitive. Since heating and ventilation are an evergreen business, many players enter the space. Many new entrants offer significant discounts to gain market share. As such, there is pressure on margins. Competitive advantage depends on efficiency improvements.
Field service software delivers big-time efficiency improvements. Using the FSM software, HVAC businesses may:
- Streamline scheduling. The automated suite assigns the most qualified and nearest technician to an open work order. Factors considered by the algorithm include working hours, time off, and certifications. Scheduling syncs with spare availability, improving first-time fix rates.
- Assist dispatch. Integration with maps guides the technicians through the best routes to their work sites.
- Track technicians in real-time. The mobility arm of the FSM suite tracks the technicians’ movement through their smartphone GPS. Customers get accurate ETA. Supervisors may pinpoint delays and make timely interventions to set things right.
- Streamline inspections and audits. Ready-made or custom forms and checklists structure workflows and ease inspections. Electronic data gathering improves accuracy and speeds up the process.
The streamlined workflows and fast turnaround time allow businesses to reduce overheads. They may pass on some gains to customers as discounts or lower quotes and become more competitive.
3. Improve Responsiveness
Businesses that disregard their customers fail. Successful companies keep the customer focus as the central focus of everything they do. They align their systems and processes to make things easy for the customer. They do not, for instance, make the customer go through hoops by designing systems based on the employee’s convenience.
Top HVAC service providers:
- Take proactive action on customer queries. They set up a ticketing system to generate a ticket for each query. The system assigns the query to the relevant employee and tracks the same until resolution. For instance, if the customer seeks a service, the system triggers a ticket for a quote and follows up to ensure the customer gets a quote. Likewise, if the customer makes a complaint, the system assigns the ticket to the work supervisor for follow-up action.
- Take active feedback from their customers. After work completion, they use the email client feature in the field service app to reach out to the customer for feedback and reviews.
- Acquire testimonials and reviews. Today’s aware customers value genuine reviews over paid promotions.
- Invest in social media listening tools to decipher the pulse of the customer. May customers shy away from direct feedback but may have a good or bad experience, which they share through social media.
- Educate the customer. Top HVAC providers become knowledge leaders. They invest in blogs and other knowledge-sharing initiatives. They also set up knowledge repositories. Field technicians may access these repositories through mobile apps and do their work better.
4. Automate invoices, payments, and accounting
A field service suite makes it easy to generate the invoice. When the field agent marks work completion through his smartphone app, the back end prepares the invoices. The software aggregates information from various sources. The software collects:
- The quoted rates and promised discounts from the work order
- The number of hours worked from the timesheet
- Spares used from the inventory management suite.
Automated invoice generation on work completion delivers multiple benefits.
- Customers may verify the invoice, and field agents may collect the payment after work completion. Confusions get eliminated.
- The billing process becomes accurate. The businesses do not lose money because of oversight. With manual invoicing, calculation errors inflate the invoice and annoy the customer.
- The business gets paid instantly, most of the time. Immediate payment improves the cash flow position of the company, improving competitiveness.
- As downstream effects, accounts and payroll gets automated as well. The invoice and payment data auto-populate on the accounting suite, the CRM, and other relevant databases.
- Everyone gets access to real-time information to avoid mix-ups, waste, and embarrassment. A customer support executive calling a customer for a payment already made is a big embarrassment. The FSM-enabled automated accounting helps the business avoid such bloopers.
5. Use pay-per-click advertising to attract high-value leads
HVAC businesses can no longer ignore digital marketing. Pay-per-click is one of the most popular forms of digital marketing.
Pay-per-click allows businesses to set prequalification and a specific information-exchange period to generate leads. They may stop the ads after getting a certain number of leads to prevent overload. Attracting more customers than the business can handle causes delays and puts off customers. Likewise, the business may opt for more aggressive campaigns during lean periods.
When prospects click on the link, the system captures their details and places them in the lead tracking system. On conversion, the system generates a work order for the HVAC installation or maintenance, which the field technicians take up.
The HVAC space is getting more and more competitive. Only service providers with a clear focus and the right tools to implement action-plan succeed. A state-of-the-art FSM software digitizes the entire gamut of operations and allows HVAC businesses to reap rich benefits.
Connect with us today and learn how ReachOut Suite can benefit your HVAC business!
Ashmitha works with ReachOut Suite as a creative writer. She collaborates with the Digital Marketing team to deliver engaging, informative, and SEO friendly business collaterals. Being passionate about writing, Ashmitha frequently engages in blogging and creating fiction. Besides writing, Ashmitha indulges in exploring effective content marketing strategies.
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