In the electrical trade, your future depends on customer loyalty.
The contractors who can build the broadest base of repeat customers grow the fastest, survive economic downturns, and dominate their market. Repeat customers increase value over time as the cost of retention decreases: it is 6x to 7x more expensive to attract a brand-new customer than it is to retain previous customers. They typically spend more as they put more trust in your expertise. The relationships with your regular customers can be leveraged to strengthen your reputation, making attracting new business increasingly profitable.
But the businesses whose customers don’t call back? They don’t last.
As service providers, electrical contractors need homeowners, general contractors, and developers to keep them in mind on a regular basis—to call them first when they need solutions or invite them to bid on new contracts. But how do you develop those kinds of relationships when you’re just starting out? What are the tools available to you?
Our business consultation experts lay out three key strategies below.
What Makes a Customer Loyal?
First, we should talk about what we mean when we say “customer loyalty.”
At its most fundamental, customer loyalty describes how likely a previous customer is willing to pay for your services again. Loyalty is built through the accumulation of positive experiences a customer has with your business. Over time, these experiences create a positive expectation that your service will provide a better experience than they could get elsewhere.
Like any relationship, customer loyalty is developed over time in big and small moments: how understood they felt when they called, how quickly you solved their problem, how punctual you were, and a thousand other personal and professional factors.
The Potential of Negative Experiences
Small moments of generosity, thoughtfulness, and skill are the foundation of customer loyalty. However, that doesn’t mean only positive experiences build customer loyalty. In fact, the ability to turn a bad experience into a good one can develop more trust and confidence than a purely positive experience.
“People who had a bad experience with a brand, but a brand fixed it, are more loyal than customers who never had a problem in the first place.” says Leonie Brown, a researcher at Qualtrics XM. “That’s because it involves trust.” When a customer feels stress or anxiety, your ability to grant relief (even if they initially blame you for feeling stressed) counts in your favor. In a sense, a positive experience comes from the gap between what a customer expects and what you deliver.
How you provide positive experiences is up to you. Some electrical contractors offer the cheapest prices or fastest results, but there are ways to develop strong customer loyalty without undervaluing yourself or working overtime. For our money, there are three high-value ways for electrical businesses to inspire customer loyalty with minimal upkeep:
- Improving your website experience
- Establishing multiple paths for customer communication
- Enabling online appointment booking
Inspire Loyalty Through Your Website
Electrical contractors don’t frequently serve the same customers more than once a year, so each step in the customer journey is crucial to developing loyalty. For more and more people, the first step is visiting your website.
Take a look at your site:
- Is it easy to navigate?
- Is the information arranged so that it’s easy to digest?
- Do pages load quickly?
If a positive experience is created by the gap between expectation and reality, then your site can’t just be functional—it has to be a joy to use. Every facet of the site must be designed to address your customer’s questions or make it easy to contact you.
Your site pages, for instance, must be arranged to anticipate your customers’ needs. Ideally, every page should be designed to convert visitors into paying customers, from calling for a quote, sending a contact form, to even more functionality (but we’ll get to that shortly). At minimum, It should be searchable, responsive, and work on any device.
The easier it is for a visitor to engage with your site, the more they’ll expect that working with you directly is just as easy and straightforward.
Create Multiple Channels of Communication
Most people have a default mode of communication, whether it’s text, email, voice calls, or chat. Accommodating a customer’s preferred method of reaching out is a simple way to create a positive experience, thereby building loyalty. According to chat service Avochato, 89% of consumers would prefer texting with businesses over anything else, and 63% said they’d switch services if a competitor offered texting as an option.
There are already a number of tools and services that would allow your business to be reached via WhatsApp, Messenger, chat, or phone/text. By removing friction between you and your customers, you’re increasing the likelihood of repeat business. When communication is easy and simply, people will contact you over and over.
However, there’s a downside: with every new channel you sign up to receive messages through, you’ve created a brand new inbox to check every hour. The more messaging services your customers use, the more complex communication becomes.
Let Customers Schedule Service Online
Unless you’re paying for a service or technician to sit by the phones 24 hours a day, you’re likely not taking appointments at all hours. That’s a shame, since Zippia reports that 40% of appointments are booked after business hours. More than half of Millennials and Gen Xers say they would switch to a competitor just to book appointments online.
To put it mildly, that’s a lot of business on the table. So why don’t electrical contractors enable online booking as soon as possible?
Part of the problem is that vendors simply don’t build tools for electricians, so contractors have to mash up dozens of different apps and services that don’t fit together. For a feature like online booking, you’re looking at a tool that requires close coordination between your website, calendar, customer intake, and dispatch tools. Most DIY software solutions won’t allow for integration on that level without hours of tinkering and troubleshooting (or a lot of upfront costs).
But if you can manage to get online booking up and running, it would be a huge step forward for building customer loyalty.
Electricians.AI Gets Rid of Guesswork & Legwork
For the first time, Electricians.AI gives electrical contractors a working business right out of the box. With suites of apps for communication, operations, marketing, and finances, you get access to a fully integrated system for running your business. We took all the tools mentioned in this article and brought them into one place, reducing complexity while expanding your capacity for giving customers incredible loyalty-building experiences.
Learn more by trying out Electricians.AI free for 30 days. See your business transform firsthand.