How to Dominate the Competition with a Field Service CRM

Originally published by The Capterra Field Service Management Blog

Businesses are built on the back of customers, and therefore on the back of customer relationships. Field service businesses are no exception to the rule, and may rely even more heavily on customer relationships than other types of business, due to the repetitive nature of those businesses.

The basic expression of relationship value in business is the concept of customer lifetime value (CLV). CLV is expected value of an average customer over the life of your company’s relationship with them. Kissmetrics has posted a nice infographic about calculating CLV — please ignore their LTV acronym, as it has a more common meaning in finance.

For the math-averse, the basic measure of a customer’s value takes into consideration your customers’ average purchase value, the length of their relationship with your company, and their purchase frequency. If you spend $10 per week with Starbucks, over a year you’ll be worth $520 to them. Over ten years, $5,200 — the Kissmetric system takes into account some other important factors, but you get the idea.

If your business isn’t paying close attention to the relationships it forms with customers, you’re throwing money down the drain. One way to avoid this is to implement a simple customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Introduction to CRMs

CRMs are used by just about every company that sells something to people on any regular basis. CRMSwitch attributes the first CRM to ACT!, with the release of their 1986 contact management system. These were nothing more than fancy Rolodexes for your computer, but times have changed.

Modern CRMs are a collection of every detail you could ever want to know about your clients bundled with a whole host of tools that allow you to make more informed decisions about your business. You can find out which customers are giving you the most business, which ones you’ve contacted most recently, and which ones are costing you the most money.

Chances are, you’ve had some sort of CRM interaction. If you use an email marketing service or have a basic field service management software package or any sort of sales tool, you’re probably familiar with the basics of a CRM.

The beauty of a CRM is in the insight that they provide you. Sure, it’s nice to be able to keep all those contacts in one place, but the real value of a CRM comes from getting a better understanding of your customers.

Insights to service clients

Your service business should be tracking at least a half dozen key performance indicators (KPIs) — maybe more. If your business is a car, KPIs are all the dials and lights on the dashboard. Except the engine light — no one knows what powers the engine light.

A CRM will help you keep an eye on a few of your most important KPIs. Track how much money you’re making from customers, how much you’re spending on them, how often they’ve been contacted, and how well your sales process is converting leads into sales. If you want to take your KPIs a step further, check out Capterra’s performance management software directory.

How to integrate with a CRM

Now to the heart of the issue — how do you set yourself up to take advantage of all this information? You’ll start in one of two potential positions. You have a field service management package in place or you don’t.

If you don’t, then you’ve got a lot of flexibility to find a solution that has CRM features already built into its core. Luckily, most field service software options are now fairly robust CRMs right out of the gate.

Kickserv, for instance, comes with some robust reporting tools that allow you to track your customers’ actions and their impact on your business. You can dig in to find out which employees are generating the most business from your customers, which customers are generating the most cash for you, and where those customers are coming from.

If you already have a field service platform in place, you’re going to be a bit more hemmed in. That doesn’t mean you’re out of options though. First of all, you might have a great system in place that already comes with a CRM option — see Kickserv, in the previous paragraph.

If you don’t have a great built-in option or if you just want something more, you can go one of two directions. If you’ve got a system like FieldAware, you can leverage the system’s integration tools to link it to a CRM of your choice. This allows the two systems to share information between themselves, giving you that clear view of your customers that’s going to help your business thrive.

If you don’t have that option, then you can simply settle on a standalone CRM and make the connections yourself. This is the least attractive solution, as it can require double entry of data and it creates a disjointed view of your customers.

CRM options

If you’re adding on a CRM to either link to your field service system or to run alongside it, you’ve got plenty of options — even some free ones. As you look through the choices, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Here are the three points I would give to guide you, if you’re looking for a CRM specifically for a service company.

  • Get thee to the cloud — Having a system that’s installed locally can work well for some business — retailers, for instance — but your business doesn’t revolve around the office. Instead, get a system that lives in the cloud and you’ll find your techs have better and more frequent access to the data they need when they’re in the field.
  • Landing pages help — If you want more customers to convert when they visit your website, consider a CRM that help you manage landing pages. Landing pages are like little, targeted websites that help you get more out of your visitors based on where they visited you from. Check out HubSpot for a great article on designing landing pages.
  • Automate your marketing — One of the nicest parts of a CRM is all the time it can save you in marketing to clients. Service businesses thrive on repeat business, and automating your customer outreach at important times in the year or in the customer’s contract cycle can help you keep everyone happy. Automated marketing can schedule all these points of contact.

If you need more options, check out Capterra’s full listing of CRM and field service software options. For convenience, here’s a link to all the CRMs with the three features I’ve called out above.

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