Have you ever set an appointment online for a service? How about ordering a product online? You might never interact with a human at Amazon unless you happen to open the door while the delivery person is winging your package onto the stoop. There’s no human interaction at all, and yet the Amazon experience is typically a very satisfactory one.

I’ve had my own love/hate relationship with Uber Eats, certainly a bit of a lower expectation than I have with Amazon; but the food comes eventually, and sometimes it’s even warm. OK, what’s my point?

People are accustomed to communicating without ever talking to anyone, so why are we still torturing them with phone calls? If you can give homeowners accurate, immediate and convenient communication—including all the information they need to do business with you—via a text, why not try it?

Let’s start with online appointment setting. If you don’t have a way for prospects to set an appointment with you online, you’re missing out on the folks who never want to talk to a human. I joke with my 17-year-old son about hiding from the Uber Eats delivery person. He doesn’t want to see the person or—horrors—have the person see him.

Gen Z does not want to see you or talk to you. Please just text them or, even better, just Snap them. Gen X and Boomers are flinging open the door, thanking the delivery person and grabbing the pizza from their hand. But even they might not want to talk to you either.

Online appointment setting on your website and PPC (pay-per-click) landing pages increases your chances of capturing younger customers, people who are tech savvy or too busy to talk to you because they’re at work. And this process doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be the equivalent of a Hollywood movie-set house; it looks like a digital solution in the front, but it’s just sending an email to your phone, printer or call center.

If you’re running a big business with a robust CRM (customer relationship management) software system and call center team, integrating this process is a must. But again, it doesn’t have to integrate with a CRM appointment calendar—it can and that’s optimal—whoever is on the receiving end of the email or customer record just verifies sales-rep availability and texts back with the date and time, solidifying the request was received, and the prospect is all set for their consultation.

Texting must be by permission with the correct TCPA (regulatory) language on your web form, but the entire process can be handled through text. Most forms, when completed, forward the filler-outer to a “thank you” page. If that’s all you’re doing (and not sending a text, whether automatic or manual once the calendar is checked), you’ll lose people.

If you allow appointments to be set out further than a few days, you’re going to lose people. I’ve heard that online appointments have a higher rate of no shows and cancellations. If you’re not immediately acknowledging the appointment via text, then it’s not really an appointment in the eyes of your potential customer.

What is the best type of text? It is a text that allows the receiver to add the date and time to their phone calendar. Here’s a plug for marlimar.com; they have this capability. There may be others who do as well, but I have personally used Marlimar and can recommend them.

So, now the prospect has a set appointment with a date and time. You’ve sent them a text acknowledging this, and theoretically a rep will show up at the agreed date and time to the warm smiles of your future customers. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Life gets busy, plans change, people forget and, if you haven’t confirmed the appointment, it might not feel like a priority to them.

They filled out the form. You followed up with a text confirming date and time. Now what? If the appointment was set for the same day, you run it. If it was set for the following day, you can send a confirmation text that morning; or, if you are of the paranoid persuasion, worried about cancellations more than you are about not finding the homeowner at home, you run it.

If the appointment is set out further than the next day, you send a confirmation text confirming that your rep will be there tomorrow—with bells on—to solve all their issues. If you can include a photo of the rep and a snippet about him/her in the text, fabulous. Now, if they cancel, they are canceling on Bob who likes to sew or Beth who likes to fish (see what I did there?) and not a company.

The content of this text must be carefully crafted: “Press Y to confirm” or call 123-456-7890. There is no “Press N to cancel.” A phone call might be required if there is no response to the text, but if you get a “Y” or a “C” to confirm, you’re good to go with no spoken conversation—just like Amazon! QR

Amy Zimmerman is the chief marketing office for Tundraland. Previously, she held similar positions with 1-800-Hansons, Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors, and Republic Windows. She holds a masters degree in advertising from Northwestern University.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More