Software Helps Improve Customer Scheduling

A New Jersey contractor finds a number of operational efficiencies through use of automated customer-service software

Software Helps Improve Customer Scheduling

Schedule Engine software not only allows customers at Pipe Works Services to book service calls online, it also allows customers to upload photos and videos that vividly illustrate their plumbing problems, which helps technicians like Zach Langowski better prepare for service calls and work more efficiently.

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With one business decision, Pipe Works Services of Chatham, New Jersey, improved its customer service, increased technicians’ efficiency, boosted office staff productivity and burnished the company’s image as a modern, consumer friendly place to do business.

Ticking all those boxes in one fell swoop may sound far fetched, but that’s exactly what the company achieved when it opted to invest in Schedule Engine’s cloud-based, customer service software platform. The company started using the software in February 2020. One key feature is online scheduling capability that reduced service-related phone call volume by around 15%, says owner Paul Giglio.

“We book around 500 to 600 service calls a month,” he says. “So if we can eliminate roughly 15% of those calls, each of which lasts for 10 to 12 minutes, it adds up to a considerable amount of time saved that allows employees to do more higher-value work, such as improving customer service.

“Time is the most valuable thing in business today. If we can save 40 hours a month, for example, it’s like we gained another full-time employee for a week without paying for it.”

In addition, providing online scheduling enhances customers’ perception of the company as a modern, technologically savvy business that’s concerned about making things convenient for customers, says Tricia Bruno, sales manager.

“Many homeowners would rather book an appointment online — have less time-consuming contact,” she says. “It also allows people to book appointments late at night. Internet booking is the way the world is going. It’s all about providing convenience for both existing and future customers.”

Also, if the company is inundated with service calls, Bruno says the company can set Schedule Engine to block any service bookings for, say, the next three days.

The platform easily integrates with ServiceTitan, the company’s field-management software. Among other functions, ServiceTitan sends out reminder emails to customers about scheduled appointments as well as emails that tell them about a technician’s pending arrival.

The platform also helps technicians be more efficient and productive because it enables customers to upload photos or even videos that vividly illustrate the problem they’re experiencing. That allows technicians to plan accordingly and be sure they have all the parts necessary to make a repair, Giglio says.

“It also helps our service manager considerably because when he can see photos and videos, he can assign the appropriate technicians to each job, based on their skill sets,” he says.

Schedule Engine offers a customizable artificial intelligence program that more narrowly defines issues by leading customers through a series of questions. This helps drive better decision-making and eliminates long phone discussions as customers explain their problems, Bruno says.

For example, a pop-up menu will ask customers what problem they’re experiencing. If customers select no heat, then the system asks if they have a forced-air or hydronic system. If they select forced air, it’ll ask if the system is blowing any air. Each answer prompts a different question until the problem is defined very specifically, she says.

It will also tell customers what the company doesn’t fix. For example, the company doesn’t work on oil-fueled heating systems. So if customers select “oil” when asked what powers their heating system, it automatically will tell them the company doesn’t work on oil systems.

Schedule Engine offers an online chat feature where customers can ask an expert about plumbing and HVAC problems. And the questions aren’t fielded by bots, they’re handled by trained and certified industry professionals, Giglio says.

“We were dying for a good after-hours company to answer customers’ questions and book the call, which is the most important thing a customer-service representative can do,” he says. “We’ve used other companies for online chats in the past, and Schedule Engine blows them out of the water.

“They’re by far the most knowledgeable and professional people and they do what we need them to do — book the calls. I see all the transcripts of their conversations and every time I read them, I think, ‘Wow, these people are amazing.’”

The company paid an initial onboarding fee to Schedule Engine and pays a monthly fee of $495 to use the software. (The flat-rate monthly fee varies according to company size and other factors.) But Giglio says the system more than pays for itself through increased productivity and operational efficiencies, not to mention how it enhances customers’ perceptions of the company as a progressive, modern outfit.

“In so many other businesses out there, it’s remarkably easy to order things online and have them delivered to your doorstep,” he says. “But you couldn’t do it for a plumbing service call. It was insane. Now we’re finally getting the industry into the 21st century.”


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