It’s no secret here at The NEWS headquarters: This editor loves her coffee.
“If I’m going to be late anyway, I might as well be late with Starbucks,” I’ve been known to joke to Angela, our technology editor, who sits in the cube next to me.
Recently, I’ve been taking advantage of a feature that streamlines the morning cup of joe. Just down the street from work is a Starbucks. If I’m in the mood for coffee (or extra coffee) on my way to the office, I’ll pull up the Starbucks app. A couple taps on my iPhone, hit “pay,” and my order is waiting for me on the counter, with my name on the cup, when I come in. If I order when I’m three or four minutes away, stopping by to grab my iced caramel macchiato takes a whopping 32 seconds, once I’ve parked … not that I’ve counted or anything.
Gone is the hassle of waiting in line. What was now a 10- or 15-minute trip is now a fraction of that time, and it’s amazing.
A bit of observation on my part says customers seem to really like mobile ordering — so much so, that local restaurants are evolving their layout in response. The Chipotle I go to for lunch recently added a second burrito assembly line specifically for mobile orders, complete with a mini printer that spits out sticky name tags with orders printed on them, one after another. So did Mr. Kabob, the Mediterranean place across the street. And in the year and a half I’ve been working at The NEWS, Starbucks has debuted an addition in their parking lot: three mobile-order-only parking spaces, each with its own “reserved” sign.
Whether it’s ordering at Starbucks, ordering on Amazon, or ordering heating and a/c services, customers’ preferences carry over. And to a customer cooped up in a stuffy house, waiting until open hours to call and set up an appointment is like standing in a line you can’t see the front of.
“That whole online thing … that’s where they’re going,” Rob Minnick, CEO/president at Minnick’s Inc., pointed out to me last year. “It’s growing — not fast, but it’s growing, and that’s why [scheduling software providers] are working on tying this all in, where customers can pick and choose their slots.”
He’s not wrong. In today’s culture, service doesn’t stop at 5 p.m. We live in a world with Kroger ClickList, Uber, and Amazon Prime. You can order a coffee, a dinner, any household item under the sun, even a date (hello Tinder) right from a phone app and get it within 24 hours.
“People are so tired of the same old rhetoric: ‘We’ll have to get out there to provide you an estimate,’” said Jonathan Rivera, COO and lead technician at Revolution Air in Houston. “More and more customers are looking for more of an Amazon feel to home service, where you can click a button and do a standard service call, book a capacitor.”
If that’s what customers want, that’s what Rivera provides. The company website has a “book service now” button in the middle of the front page, which takes you to a menu with pictures, pricing, and an option to choose a two-hour window when you’d like your technician to arrive. As I’m writing this, the first available time slot is tomorrow from 10 a.m. to noon. Fill out your address and contact info, hit “confirm,” pay online, and you’re good to go.
Granted, Revolution Air may still be on the front lines when it comes to revolutionizing the way we interact with service providers. I’m told that less than a quarter of HVAC contractors currently use live, two-way texting, and the number who use online booking is even smaller. But the service industry does not exist in a vacuum.
“The ‘we’ll be there sometime between 12 and 5’ isn’t going to cut it anymore,” said Steve Mastio, president at online booking company FittleBug. “[Customers] don’t want to take a half a day off to wait for you … when you can go to the internet instead. And in one click, you can lose all that loyalty you’ve built up with that person.”
When that happens, the contractor who’s ahead of the game will be the one to get the click, the job, and the sale. So, why not take steps now to make sure that contractor is you? All it will take is some planning, some investment, and the get-up-and-go to make it happen. Maybe, the kind that’s kick-started by a mobile-order coffee that you can pick up in just 32 seconds on your way to work.