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Applying Technology Innovation To Real-World Service Problems

There are universal truths to life:

  • No matter how much we curse in traffic jams, they won’t get any faster.
  • Triangle sandwiches always taste better than square ones.
  • Nothing is more satisfying than being the first person to dip into a new peanut butter jar.
  • Everyone at some point in life will be frustrated waiting for a contractor to fix something in their home/apartment.

But here’s the thing, no matter what we believe, universal truths can change.

  • At one point we believed that cabs and public transportation were the only ways to get around a city – enter ride sharing.
  • At one point we believed that text messaging wouldn’t take off – enter the smartphone.
  • At one point we believed that there was no alternative to traditional currency – enter cryptocurrency.

No matter what we believe, there will always be room for change, and the one underlying theme that creates this change is technology.

Home service is an industry that is in desperate need of a technological change. Here’s why.

It Took 4 Months to Fix my Dishwasher…

It was November 2017.

I filled my dishwasher with soap, closed the door, and pressed “power wash.” The power button jiggled for a second then popped out. I pressed it again – the same thing. The small plastic piece that kept the power on was broken.

So I did what every homeowner does when an appliance breaks. I went to the manufacturer’s website, clicked the “dealer locator,” put in my zip code, and found the closest contractor. I called the contractor, waited for a few rings, got their voicemail and left a detailed message.

The next day I waited for a callback.

5 pm came around and still nothing. I called the company back and the voicemail said they closed at 4 pm. Great…

3 days pass by and I finally get someone on the line.

“How can I help you?” The office assistant said.
“I’m trying to schedule an appointment, and it’s somewhat hard to get a hold of you guys,” I told them.

“What do you need done?” (she apparently didn’t listen to my 2 previous voicemails)

“The power button on my dishwasher needs fixing. Can I get someone to fix it?”

“Sure. What’s wrong?”

“The power button won’t stay connected. Can I send you a photo of it?”

“Send it to my cell phone. Here’s my number….” (We’re now playing telephone-tag because she will send it to the contractor who will then tell her what to tell me.)

“Okay. Did you get it?”

“Yup, got the photo. I’ll schedule you for next Thursday from 2pm-5pm. That’s the earliest opening. Does that work?”

“Sure, I’ll have to take time off work but I can be home. I’ll put it on my calendar.”

Thursday arrived and they didn’t show. I called them at 4:45 pm to ask where the contractor was. I was reminded that they closed their office at 4 pm so there was no way of knowing if the technician is running late or just not coming.

That day went by and I didn’t hear anything from the company.

So right now I bet you’re wondering why I haven’t switched companies? Well, they were the only company in Boston that could fix my off-brand dishwasher. Since it was so hard to schedule them, I seriously contemplated buying a new dishwasher because I had no clear solution for fixing it.

Three weeks went by and all of a sudden my phone rings. It’s the dispatcher.

“I’m so sorry. I went on vacation for three weeks to Europe.”
“Okay? I didn’t hear anything from you guys, so I almost bought a new one.”

“No, don’t buy a new one. The next available time we can get a technician out there is at the end of next week. Want me to schedule it?”

“You mean 12 day’s from now?”


“Okay. If that’s the earliest time then let’s schedule it.” I said.

12 days go by and they call saying that they can’t come that day because they ordered the wrong part. They’re going to have to wait for another 12-days…

(I really can’t make this up. In this past year, I’ve started balding and I’m pretty sure this experience had something to do with it.)

Another week goes by.

I called on the morning of the appointment to confirm that they were coming. They verbally confirmed that the technician would arrive between 2 pm – 5 pm.

5 pm hits. Still nothing.

Finally, the next day they arrive! The technician walked in, didn’t say anything about taking months to fix my dishwasher, and then proceeded to ask me if I had a specific Allen Wrench. The technician was asking to borrow my tools. He was lucky that I had the right one he was looking for. He proceeded to spend 15-minutes working on my dishwasher then slapped a bill for $275 on my table. I paid him, and he left in a hurry.

How technology can improve every aspect of this service experience:

The Scheduling Dance

Playing phone tag is old hat. The service companies that adopt new technologies to create modern consumer experiences will retain customers longer, improve NPS faster, and reduce overhead. Similar to how Google’s new AI assistant can schedule an appointment for users, tools like Dispatch can dramatically streamline scheduling for both customers and businesses.

How Dispatch solves the scheduling dance

The Dispatch experience looks like this:

  1. The customer visits the manufacturer’s website.
  2. The customer clicks “Find a Dealer”
  3. The customer puts in their zip code and finds the best available technician to fix their issue
  4. The customer click “book now.”
  5. The customer selects the three best available times that work well for their schedule
  6. The customer get’s text message saying that one of their three times has been scheduled. Included in the message is a calendar link with all the necessary information about the job.

Piece of cake!

The communication blackout

Right as the appointment was scheduled, I was left in the dark. I either had to call the main office or wait for the technician to arrive to know what was going on. Customers like me are constantly left in the dark, feeling hopeless as they wait for the technician to arrive.

How Dispatch solves customer communication issues

With advanced customer experience platforms, technicians can communicate with homeowners, dispatchers can send automatic appointment reminders, and homeowners can send notes and photos about a job directly to both. So for example, I could have sent my dishwasher photo directly to both the dispatcher and technician so that everyone will be on the same page. The moment communication in the field service space isn’t connected, chaos festers.

The Day of Service Experience

Homeowners are accustomed to long service windows. They bat an eye at the ole’ “2pm-5pm” service window but they tolerate it because it’s expected. Since this window is long, homeowners typically take time off of work and patiently wait for the truck to pull in the driveway.

How Dispatch solves the day of service experience

The On-My-Way notification reduces customer no-shows by 86%. When a customer gets this alert, they can leave work with enough time to meet the technician at the front door. You won’t have long service windows because when the on-my-way notification says that the technician will arrive in 30-minutes, the homeowner can leave work with enough time to spare.

The moment after service

I had no way of leaving feedback for the technician that fixed my dishwasher. I could call the company back and hope they listened to my feedback, let alone answered the phone, but that wasn’t convenient to me. Instead, the easier outlet I had was to leave a review on their Google page – a more public forum.

How Dispatch solves the moment after service

Immediately after a job is complete, a survey notification gets sent to the homeowner. With a few swipes and taps, they can rate and review their technician. The best part is if the review is negative, the company is alerted and they can call the homeowner to remedy any negative situation before they decide to voice their opinion on Google.

To learn how you can quickly implement a customer experience tool like Dispatch, request a demo and we’ll gladly help.

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