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Data: Moving from Vendor to Advisor

By XOi CTO Adam Jaggers

 

As an uncertain economic future looms, families and businesses alike are starting to “tighten the spending belt” and re-examine the traditional relationships they have with service providers. Major expenses spent on fixes, replacements, PM contracts, and maintenance may be put on hold if deemed unnecessary by the customer. While some field service business owners might view this rocky economic climate as a potential negative to their business, we see this as an opportunity for first class service providers to take on a new role in their customer’s minds: the advisor role.

In most service businesses the interaction with a customer is transactional. The customer needs service, contacts a provider, and payment is exchanged … simple enough for most cases. Most customers do not see the need to have a deeper relationship with their provider, even if said provider has the means and desire to invest in every customer. However, during an economic downturn, spending gets put under the microscope. If your business has the ability to provide sophisticated, data-backed, money-saving advice, you’ll have the opportunity to fundamentally change how your customers perceive you.

Creating a more transparent customer experience through photo, video and other statistical data points will shift the balance of trust greatly in your favor as a service provider. By providing reliability and predictability, you’ll earn the role of advisor— protecting your business and charting an unprecedented path to future growth.

 

Arm Yourself With Data

The next (obvious) question — “How do I advise my customers in a different way? I’ve been trying to get them to listen to me for years!” While we don’t doubt your expertise and excellent advice, it’s the inherent mystery of field service that makes people suspicious. There is a way to overcome suspicion, and it’s a relatively simple answer—data. In general, customers are put at ease when shown the data behind the advice you are giving. If you pair your recommendation with visual data like photos, videos, and statistical analysis, your customers begin to understand the sophisticated issues they’re facing and the motivations for the recommendations you make.

Telling a customer that they need to replace a $25,000 rooftop unit is vastly different than showing them a video of the old unit clunking along, rusted and shaking. If you’re armed with technology that can provide a statistical analysis of the life expectancy of that unit, the “mystery” of this jo is unveiled. Transparency— allowing your customers to “peek behind the data curtain”—breeds confidence and trust in your expertise. You’ll no longer face the traditional stigma of a “customer vs. vendor” environment typically endured by most service providers. Customers can now view you as a trusted advisor because you are able to provide proof of your expertise.

Meaningful customer relationships are at the core of any successful business. As an advisor, you will be in the best possible position to help your customers succeed and make the right decisions on where and when to spend their hard earned money.


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