FEWER CALL ATTEMPTS NEEDED FOR TECHNICIANS TO REACH CUSTOMERS WHILE IN THE FIELD
LONG-DISTANCE CHARGES ANYMORE TO CONNECT THE COMPANY’S OFFICE LOCATIONS IN DIFFERENT COUNTIES
One great benefit of RingCentral is that our field technicians can now more reliably reach customers, because even if they’re calling from their own cell phone, it always shows up as an Advantage business number. That’s definitely helping us improve our customer experience.
For 50 years, residents and businesses in Northern Oklahoma have relied on Advantage Plumbing Heating and Cooling for fast, expert, and affordable service. And if you look them up in Google Reviews, you’ll find the Advantage team’s nearly 100 customer reviews average an impressive 4.4 out of 5 rating.
Through a combination of loyal long-term customers and positive word-of-mouth, Advantage has steadily grown its operations in every way: company size, number of locations, services offered, and geographic territory served. Today, Advantage provides a full range of plumbing, HVAC, and commercial refrigeration services across North Central and Northeast Oklahoma.
But when the Stillwater-based company acquired another HVAC business more than 60 miles away in Sapulpa, Advantage found itself managing not one but two outdated phone systems—and the daily workflow inefficiencies this created were too serious to ignore.
Legacy phone infrastructure undermined efficiency
With a business communication environment consisting of standard landline phones, and field service technicians using their own smartphones on the road, Advantage’s management team knew they weren’t operating as efficiently as they could.
Steve Trompler, the company’s IT manager, shares one example. “We use an answering service for after-hours calls, primarily for emergency requests, and we pay by the call,” he says. “Because we didn’t have an automated menu to direct callers to voicemail for non-emergencies, people
calling after-hours would wait to speak with an operator even for questions about billing or whether we could handle a certain type of service. That got very expensive for us.”
Operations Manager Macy Sorrell-Devereaux offers another example of how Advantage’s phone system undermined productivity and even the customer experience. The company’s technicians, Macy explains, use their own cell phones in the field, and Advantage’s standard process is for the techs to call ahead and let customers know when they’re on their way to the jobsite.
“Because customers didn’t recognize our techs’ mobile numbers, about 50% of the time they just wouldn’t answer,” says Macy. “That triggered about four calls to finally reach the customer. The tech would try them a couple of times first, then call the office, and finally someone in the office would call the customer to let them know the tech was on the way. It was inefficient, took time from our team in the office, and didn’t create a very good customer experience.”
Plumbing, HVAC services
Here’s an example of why RingCentral is a game-changer for us. A customer had an HVAC issue, and I gave her my direct number, which I can access anywhere with my RingCentral mobile app. She texted me some key info at 8pm. I was able to text right back, and we solved the problem. That customer doesn’t have my personal number, but she knows the Advantage team is responsive anytime, anywhere. That’s the type of service that keeps us growing.
A helpful recommendation from Service Roundtable
Fortunately, Advantage is a member of Service Roundtable, the largest private association of service contractors.
“When the Service Roundtable folks recommended RingCentral, my first thought was that we don’t need this,” recalls Advantage’s Owner, Dale Sorrell. “But the more they described what RingCentral could do, the clearer it was that this could fix a lot of the challenges we were facing with our old phone system—and create some new efficiencies, too.”
RingCentral delivers even more benefits than expected
Advantage rolled out RingCentral to the entire team: adding RingCentral softphone capability to the office staff’s computers and the mobile apps to all field technicians’ company-issued tablets. The benefits, Steve points out, have been extraordinary.
“Now that our techs’ calls to customers are coming from their RingCentral mobile apps, the customers see that it’s Advantage calling, and they answer,” he says. “That means in most cases we’ve cut those attempts to connect with customers from four calls down to one.”
“We’ve also lowered the costs of our overall telecom service because we no longer have to pay the 10-digit long-distance rates for calls between our office locations. Those are all internal calls now, all on our shared RingCentral system. And we’re even paying less to the answering service, because RingCentral lets us set up automated menus to redirect callers to voicemail if they don’t have an emergency, so they’re no longer speaking to an agent in that after-hours call center.”
Additionally, Macy points out, the team is using RingCentral to offer a new way to communicate with customers from their business numbers—which, they’re finding, many customers prefer. “With the RingCentral softphone and mobile apps, we can just as easily receive and send an SMS text message as take a phone call,” she says.
“The SMS feature is creating a lot of opportunities for us. It lets customers make first contact by text rather than a call, which many seem to prefer. It also makes it easy for our techs to communicate with customers by SMS message if that’s how the customer would rather do it. It’s really helping us capture new business and provide a better experience for customers.”
Our field techs are also using RingCentral’s built-in team messaging feature to improve their work. When they’re at a jobsite, they’ll take pictures of the problem AC unit or plumbing fixture and send those pics to the office using the messaging app. That way, we can work up a quote for the job in real-time, which they can give to the customer right then.
A surprisingly smooth and painless implementation
Although the management team did have concerns about upending the telephony routines of everyone across the company, Steve points out that Advantage’s migration to RingCentral was extremely uneventful.
“The apps are very intuitive, and people just got it,” he says. And from an admin perspective, Steve adds, he’s found managing the company’s communications environment simple as well. “I’ve had to call RingCentral Tech Support only once, when I had what I thought was a tricky question about adding a level to our automated phone menu. The support rep said, ‘Don’t worry; this is easy,’ and then he set it up in 5 minutes. Now I can do it in 5 minutes as well.”
RingCentral is saving us money, helping our techs be more efficient in the field, and letting us deliver better service to our customers. Overall, a pretty good investment, I’d say.