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The Installer Will See You Now…

How to make your customers fill out forms — and love you for it.

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I’ve had a few run-ins with medical offices over the last few weeks and it got me thinking about how they see the customer experience and prioritize what’s important. The most recent incident involved me getting spined by a hardhead catfish onboard Capt. Jim’s boat off North Captiva. Turns out Capt. Jim made it look easy and maybe I shouldn’t try de-hooking venomous fish. Lesson learned. Thirty minutes later I called the Sanibel Medical Clinic and asked if I should pay them a visit. “Who’s your insurance?” came the reply. Thank goodness I answered back with an in-network provider. I briefly flashed to a scenario where my finger fell off and a headstone reading “You can’t fix stupid” stood in the foreground surrounded by my wife and kids shaking their heads in shame.

I arrived at the medical clinic and was immediately greeted with the 2021 version of the clipboard — an iPad with 64 pages of content and disclaimers to fill out and acknowledge. I dutifully filled, ticked, and signed because I was in excruciating pain and knew the only way to move into the “care” portion of the visit involved me doing exactly as I’d been instructed. They made sure to collect all their data and payment before the doc ever saw my face. I’ve held the medical world in contempt mostly out of jealousy because I know the same ‘masters of the universe’ types who make up our client base are conditioned to this kind of treatment (even inside concierge medicine) and we (integrators) don’t leverage it very well.

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The second medical experience involved me, the dentist, and a new crown. I’ve been going to see this particular practice for over a decade, but this time they shoved a clipboard at me with 48 pages of forms in triplicate, with circles and arrows throughout. This time I gently pushed back. “I’ve been coming here for over a decade,” I said. “This is our three-year update,” the receptionist cooed back. “I see,” replying with nowhere to go. I picked up the pen and started writing while feeling my right hand slowly cramping up. Those paper forms are going to be re-keyed into a computer by someone who’s likely to make a mistake. Why couldn’t they give me their data on-hand and ask me to update it vs. asking for everything all over again?

Both of these experiences got me thinking about the way the CI industry onboards customers and takes care of collecting important details and payment information. If we flip over to this same experience at my integration business, Livewire, we often find ourselves fixing the problem first before worrying about pesky little details like customer data or collecting payment. Why is this? We love to serve others and we’re guilty of not creating a clean onboarding workflow for our clients and employees to use.

We have a single stream appointment scheduling workflow that’s used by Parasol (full disclosure: I’m a co-founder of Parasol), our customers, and employees simultaneously. It’s also single data entry. We make use of customer data from first entry point all the way through billing without rekeying. What we aren’t doing, however, is intelligently querying anyone trying to schedule with us to ascertain whether they’re a new or existing customer, what service plan they’re subscribed to, or any number of other activities that could prove tremendously useful to our salespeople, service & installation staff, and accounting department down the line. That said, we’re in good company, but that’s cold comfort. We’re technologists, dammit! Why are we conducting business this way? It’s called inertia, and it’s an easy trap to fall into.

Also by Henry Clifford: How Do I Staff My Sales Team?

I’m going to start working on a killer workflow where our customers will end up inputting most of the data for us, which will build credibility and help our staff reuse it later without rekeying anything. I’m also going to share it with you, dear reader, to implement in your own business. There are myriad tools out there that can accomplish this feat, so disregard any references I make to specific shiny tech platforms later on. Stay tuned for an update coming in an upcoming installment.

Do you have a killer customer onboarding program? Are you in to make yours better?

Stay frosty, and see you in the field.