We took a trip to Sanibel, FL, during the last week of August. I think Team Clifford needed a little beach time and this cozy island offered the perfect respite. We decided to sign up for some activities, among them a jet ski eco-tour of Captiva in search of dolphins, manatees, and Florida Man. We didn’t see too many of the former, but did spy a surfeit of the latter. Good times.
I did a little Googling to figure out which jet ski outfit would put up with the six of us doing our best to run their equipment aground. Captiva Watersports, as it turns out, won out in a stiff competition of vendors. That, and they were the only ones with availability that day.
I clicked through the Captiva Watersports website and figured out we could book the whole thing online. I filled out a few forms and, before long, we were signed up — including being paid in full and entering customer data and signed waivers for all of us. What struck me about this process lay in the sophistication from such a small outfit. Clearly they were using software designed for their industry that automated everything from appointment selection through billing and waivers. I’m not sure how big the watersports tourism industry is, but I’m guessing CI might be a tad bigger by a few hundred million. Do we have a killer customer cloud gateway allowing all of this? We do not. I know I’ll get a ton of follow ups after writing this blog insisting we do, and I’d love to be wrong about that. My experience thus far has been, unfortunately, that our industry is far from the jet ski guy in terms of new client onboarding.
Related: The Installer Will See You Now…
I’m not sure how it works at your company, but our shop, Livewire, is super service oriented. So super, in fact, that we can sometimes start moving our machinery without collecting customer payment information or service plan selection. We then deliver service and begin the process of chasing the client down after the fact, begging them to pay their bill or pick a service plan. The lame factor on this on a scale from 1 to 0 is an 11.
Why do we behave this way? That’s how we’ve always done it and we don’t have a super simple system enabling us to collect customer details, payment information, and plan selection up front with well-intentioned folks manning the phones. We’re working inside of QuickBooks and Zoho without leveraging a customer portal that would empower our customers to enter their own contact details and credit card information. We could be building credibility for ourselves by tweaking our new customer workflow, but we’ve gone to seed because of the never-ending whirlwind of the day-to-day. That giant sucking sound makes for a handy excuse as to why we preserve the status quo. The jet ski guy just happened to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
We’re beginning to separate out our service business even more intentionally from our project workflow since that appears to be the area where we’re having so many issues with payment capture and plan selection. Service customers can already sign up from our website, but the payment capture is a little clunky. If we charge them right then and there for a one-hour service call and it moves beyond that, we don’t have an elegant way of collecting the remaining dollars. We’ll soon be able to send a service client a link to put a card on file with us where we can charge it after the appointment for the exact amount. We’ll also be using that same link to ask them to pick a service plan with us if they haven’t already (which is already possible on our website).
Also by Henry Clifford: What I Learned From an Oil Change
Thank you, jet ski guy, for helping bring me along (and maybe the industry a little?). We will soon fix this part of our business and continue moving along to address the ever-present remaining 98 problems.
How’s your customer onboarding? Are you amazing at capturing payment method and plan selection up front? Do you have a killer system in place? I would love to hear about it.
Stay frosty, and see you in the field.