3 Tips for Preventing Service Cancellations

There’s almost no faster way to lose money than a late cancellation. Everything is dandy and according to schedule, when suddenly an alert pops up on your job scheduling software:

“Sorry, something has come up. Won’t be home until later, can we reschedule?”

But the wheels are already in motion. Your route has been planned around specific stops in different neighbourhoods. Your crew is en route to their place right now.

As a growing business, you also can’t afford to lose that money by risking having them drop off, and leaving a hole in your daily schedule. And it does no one any good for you to show up anyway. But there are strategies you can use to minimize the number of cancellations your company faces in a given week.

First, Be a Friend to Your Customers

The most successful companies have a fantastic and consistent customer-service. By that we don’t mean a legion of people answering phones–we mean a policy at your company that sees the comfort and convenience of the customer as the top priority.

“Wait, how is that going to save me time and money?”

A great and sensible question. When you put your customer at the top of your priority pyramid, it might feel like you are setting yourself up for frustrations and runarounds. But of course, that’s not the case.

Zappos–the customer service giant that also sells shoes–is the best example of how stellar customer-service built a billion-dollar company. By zeroing in on the customer’s experience of their company, Zappos makes sure it is paying attention to the customer’s experience of the entire process. Not just the finished product, not just the lasting quality: from the first call to the final goodbye, the customer isn’t just purchasing a shoe from an online retailer. They are having an experience with Zappos. It’s this experience that makes them return to the business.

Confirm, Remind, Repeat

So how to start with great customer-service? Take the customer’s busy life into consideration: the job is not locked in once the appointment is made. Once the customer has submitted their appointment time, make sure your staff are following up in a few different ways. It’s not just that more is better (but also: it is). Reminding people across a few different “platforms” betters your chances of your client seeing the reminder. Just because you are married to your email account and smartphone doesn’t mean your customer is; remember that your customer is busy in different but equal ways to you.

Automated emails are your friend: Vonigo has job scheduling tools that can send email confirmations after appointments are made, reminders before the service is scheduled to begin, follow ups after the job is complete, and even future service reminders.

Also handy? Calling the day before or morning of with updates about the service. Is your team on time? Running a few minutes behind? Lost? Letting the client know not just that you’re coming, but exactly when isn’t just courteous, it reminds them that they themselves have a stake in making this service successful.

Calendar Tags Are Your Friend

Great customer service means making yourself available to your customer in creative ways. A “calendar tag” is a short piece of code that creates an “Event” in the recipient’s’ online calendar. Calendar tags also create a block in the client’s calendar and will automatically remind them of their appointment. Essentially, this is a way for your clients to remind themselves of the appointment they scheduled, and then continue to build the rest of their day around this event. A great service doesn’t just mean that you show up on time and do a great job: the mindset of your client is as important as the good work you do. Make it your business to make their lives simple, and their schedules adhered to. When they lay themselves down to sleep and scroll through their phone, their appointments will be only a finger-swipe away.

Put Your Money Where Your Date is

Creating parameters around cancellations can be helpful, depending on how they are communicated and if they fit with job size. Deposits on services protect your team and your business from disorganization — your own and that of your clients. It’s a bit like shaking hands to seal a deal: you both have skin in the game now. You’ve both made a promise that you expect the other to keep. Many businesses implement a policy that has the customer acknowledge a fee should they cancel late. But better than having your customer lose that deposit entirely, why not put that deposit toward a future service? That gives you another chance to show that customer just how great your team is, and doesn’t leave your client feeling like they lost money.

Committing to an appointment shouldn’t be hard. But life happens, to you and to the people you serve. Focus on how your team can contribute to your customer having a good experience above and beyond the excellent skills and knowledge you bring. An investment up front? Yes, but business models that rely on the value of recurring customers have greater long term success with their bottom line. Use the power of delight to bring customers to your side. One day you’ll look up and realize you’re surrounded by a group of advocates in your customers.