Over the course of the past two years, there has been a strong shift in how consumers interact with businesses. Increasingly, consumers have become adept at moving between both digital and physical channels to interact with businesses. This has led to the rise in the omnichannel experience — an experience that connects individual touchpoints across channels in a seamless way.
And while much of the initial focus of an omnichannel experience has landed on the shoulders of retailers, the reality is that as customers become more used to the omnichannel experience, they will come to also expect this more from service businesses such as HVAC companies.
This guide will take a look at the importance of an omnichannel experience for your HVAC business, as well as some key strategies you can put into place today to kick start your omnichannel goals.
Omnichannel Means Being Present for Every Potential Customer Touchpoint
Above all else, an omnichannel experience is all about reaching customers where they are — which is why it’s just as critical for an HVAC company as it is for a grocery store.
It has become standard for customers to use numerous channels to search for services, research specific businesses, and make their initial point of contact with a business.
Throughout this process, customers comfortably hop from one channel to another. In fact, most customers aren’t even aware of this behavior. They are so used to picking up their phones to search for things, quickly switching over to their company computer for a work meeting, and without a thought, chatting with a company via their Facebook page.
Businesses that wish to remain on top must utilize every touchpoint available to build an enhanced customer experience.
A Practical Example of What This Looks Like for Your HVAC Business
For an HVAC business, an omnichannel experience might look something like this.
A customer realizes that they need to replace their A/C unit. They have just woken up to a hot house, and over a cup of coffee, they do a quick Google search for HVAC businesses near them.
After looking over the Google business listings, they decide to read some customer reviews to see which companies have a quality reputation.
With their workday about to start, they set down their phone, hop on their laptop, and dive into their emails.
Later, they have a lull in their meetings, and via their work laptop, they decide to do a little more digging into getting their AC unit replaced. They do a quick Google search, and this time, they click on a few of the top website results, including a paid ad that highlights a special deal on AC unit replacement.
One website opens up a chat module, and they decide to chat in and ask about pricing for AC units.
Simultaneously, they browse a competitor’s online catalog of AC units. With a few units piquing their interest, they pause their search to get back to work.
Later that day, as they pick up dinner, they see an HVAC business with a clapboard out advertising special AC unit promotions — one of which is a manufacturer they had researched prior that day. They decide to pull in and have a quick conversation with a sales rep about available units.
Not quite ready to pull the trigger on a specific unit, the customer accepts a business card from the sales rep, as well as a promotional material showcasing free installation with the purchase of a unit, and they head back home.
That evening, while playing a few mindless games on their tablet, they decide to take a look at the HVAC business they visited online. They do a quick search into the business’s reputation, and after rigorously comparing multiple AC units’ online reviews, they decide they are interested in a specific make and model.
They fill out an online form requesting an estimate on the total cost for replacing their unit with the new model.
The next morning, while surfing Facebook over coffee, they see an ad for a competitor that is running the same special. Interested in seeing this company’s pricing for the same unit, they shoot over a quick Facebook messenger chat.
Later that day, they get a text message from the HVAC business they visited. The sales rep has reached out to thank them for their visit and to state that they received their inquiry via the website form. They’d love to answer the customer’s questions, and they text over a link to schedule an in-home free consultation.
In a matter of seconds, the customer has scheduled a visit and heads back into their busy day.
In this quick example, you can see an omnichannel experience in action. And, you can see how incredibly important it’s for your HVAC business to be present across channels to ensure that you don’t lose a customer at a key point in their buying journey.
Key takeaways demonstrated in this customer’s journey include the following:
- Your online reputation matters. Often, customers will start their search by looking at local Google business listings, which quickly weeds out businesses with a bad reputation or no reviews.
- You can lose a customer quickly. If you don’t respond to a message right away or fail to show up in search, customers will move on to a competitor.
- Your experience must be seamless. What if the sales rep in the above example had started over from scratch with the client they met the day before? This would have created a disjointed experience. Increasingly, customers have zero patience for repeating their information as they switch between channels. They expect your channels to feed information into one another.
- Customers rarely make a decision during their initial search. Often, customers begin a product or service search while in the middle of another daily task. They pick up and set down their search over the course of the day, which is why it’s vital to use data to track their journey and stay top of mind.
- Personalization is critical to your success. When customers see an ad that targets their exact wants, they are far more likely to click on it than when they are served a generic ad. If you’re running all-encompassing ads, it’s time to reevaluate your strategy.
How to Kick Start Your Omnichannel Experience
With the importance of an omnichannel experience established, it’s time to ensure that your HVAC company is ready to meet customers across channels. But before you begin pouring dollars into social media, Google ads, and direct mail flyers, take some time to ensure that you’re ready to make the most of the omnichannel experience.
1. Focus on What You Can Realistically Achieve
Depending on the size of your HVAC business, the scope of your omnichannel experience will vary. The worst thing you can do when designing an omnichannel experience is to take on more than you can realistically support.
For example, if you launch a website chat, offer Google messaging, provide a phone number to text as well as call, and provide customers with an email address, but you don’t have the ability to manage all these channels, you’ll actually do more harm than good.
Focus on what you can realistically achieve both by budget and resources. It’s far better to do less — but to do it well — than to try to be on every channel while providing a poor customer experience.
2. Make Your Experience Customer-Centric
What do your customers actually want? Do they prefer to talk to you over the phone? Or are they a younger demographic who would like to text you about scheduling? Do they want to see products in person? Or are they content to browse an online catalog?
Make sure to take the time to understand who your ideal customer is and what their preferences for interactions are. This can help you focus on the right channels and reduce wasted marketing spend.
You can learn what your customers prefer through a few key methods:
- Ask! If you have a steady client base, send over a quick email survey or hop on the phone. Ask questions about how they prefer to do business and look for key trends.
- Look at the data. If you notice that 75% of your customers first reach out via an online chat, you probably want to invest in this channel. However, if you realize that only 5% of your customer interactions over the past year happened through your social media channels, you might not want to pour as much effort into manning these inboxes.
- Check out the competition. What HVAC companies in your area are the most successful or are your toughest competition? Take time to analyze what channels they are using to reach customers. This can help you learn more about customers you’re losing out on and provide you with more ideas for broadening your reach.
3. Put Data to Work
For an omnichannel experience, data is key to your success. Data allows you to track customers across channels and can feed critical information back into your customer management system.
Without setting up each channel with the proper tracking in place, you can create a messy situation in which one platform doesn’t inform the other. This can cause you to provide a disjointed customer experience and can result in losing customers at key points in their journey.
Conversely, when you use data to track your customers from their very first touchpoint to the moment they make a purchasing decision, you can tailor their experience to their needs. This becomes extremely powerful in converting leads to sales and in ensuring that your competitors don’t steal your customer along the way.
4. Talk to the Team at J&L Marketing
At J&L Marketing, we specialize in helping HVAC businesses build quality omnichannel experiences that lead to higher conversion rates and increased business. We focus on what will benefit your specific business most, ensuring that you don’t waste money on channels that won’t increase profits.
Not only that, but throughout the process of tweaking your marketing strategy, we will measure your progress in real-time. This allows us to adjust your omnichannel strategy in real-time, ensuring that you don’t fall behind your competition.
If you’re interested in creating a customer-centric omnichannel experience, reach out to our team today. We’ll be happy to schedule a quick consultation meeting to see where your business has the most opportunity for using an omnichannel experience to your advantage.