Intake calls are the first interactions with potential new service customers. Scheduling follow-up appointments efficiently is critical for converting prospects while delivering excellent service. For home service businesses, mastering intake and scheduling with your call center should be a top priority.
Follow these keys to optimize intake calls and scheduling processes:
Refine Intake Questions
Intake calls aim to collect relevant details to diagnose the customer’s service needs, set proper expectations, and prepare technicians. Asking too few questions risks missing critical information. Too many, and customers get frustrated.
Analyze calls to identify what details reliably indicate the scope of work. Remove any redundant or unnecessary questions. Prioritize questions that help the schedulers match the right technician expertise to the job.
Common intake details needed include:
- Existing or new customer status
- Full address and contact information if new client
- Type of service needed (inspection, repair, installation, etc)
- Equipment type, brand, age and model
- Visible symptoms and timing of the issue
- Service and maintenance history
- Access considerations (gated entry, pets, parking, etc)
We recommend limiting intake forms to 7-10 critical questions that focus on the most essential details. By remaining as brief as possible, the time spent on the call and your callers’ patience is in proper balance.
Train Agents on the Bigger Picture
Backing out to see the bigger picture of how the intake call connects with the rest of your business is difficult for some agents. This can leave them feeling less than empowered and not part of the team.
For example, many incoming service calls involve equipment troubleshooting. While call center agents may not perform full troubleshooting, equipped with the right knowledge they can ask intelligent questions to aid diagnosis.
Create standardized troubleshooting scripts agents can leverage so they don’t overlook key diagnostic steps. Categorize these scripts by equipment type like AC, electrical, appliances to simplify.
Some of our best clients also schedule ride alongs for their call center staff with technicians to provide context. This exposure helps agents understand the impact of quality intake.
Set Scheduling Expectations
Here are some ways to set clear scheduling expectations and improve transparency for callers:
- Set realistic timeframes upfront - Avoid overpromising if availability is limited. Say "The soonest we could schedule your AC repair is Thursday morning."
- Explain same-day limitations - If unable to offer same-day service, explain why e.g. "Our technicians are booked today but I have an opening tomorrow morning."
- Discuss diagnostics needed - For complex issues explain if an inspection or troubleshooting is required before repairs can be scheduled.
- Confirm understanding - Have caller repeat back appointment date/time to ensure it aligns with their request.
- Provide arrival window - Rather than just the date, give a 2-4 hour arrival time frame so they can plan their availability if that works with your scheduling process.
- Set prep expectations - Detail any preparations needed beforehand like clearing appliance access.
- Outline follow-ups - Set expectations on confirmation contacts like reminder texts/calls day before.
- Give next steps - End call by using a scripted action statement which recaps next steps for technician arrival, your follow-ups, and contact protocols.
Offer Scheduling Options
Customers love options. Provide choices where possible like:
- Morning or afternoon appointment windows
- First available or select a preferred day
- Reschedule call if requested day has limited availability
Giving choices allows customers to select what fits their needs best rather than forcing rigid times. Make it easy to reschedule by phone or online.
A survey by Software Advice found that 63% of customers prefer to schedule service appointments online. Build in self-service flexibility.
Optimize Scheduling Tools
Purpose-built field service scheduling tools like FieldPulse, HouseCall Pro, or ServiceTitan optimize efficiency. Key features include:
- Technician skills/certifications matrix - Match jobs to qualified techs
- Customer history and equipment - Equip techs with background
- Appointment time estimates - Set accurate expectations
- Automated customer notifications - Proactive updates via text
- Real-time schedule optimization - Dynamic dispatch and routing
The right technology coordinates the entire scheduling process from start to finish. Cloud-based capability allows for phone or tablets to instantly display the information needed for service while in the field.
Refine with Data Insights
Analyze KPIs like intake call handle times, appointment book rates, on-time arrival rates, and customer satisfaction. Identify process bottlenecks impacting scheduling efficiency.
Refine skills training, troubleshooting scripts, and scheduling procedures accordingly to continually improve. Listen to call recordings to optimize questioning and set expectations.
Efficient intake and scheduling processes create a positive first impression and set your home service business up for success completing the job.
Mastering intake calls also boosts job booking ratios, increases revenue potential from appointments, and maximizes ROI of call center staff. Take one of these steps today to optimize scheduling.