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Monday, July 28, 2014

Steve Smith

Features

[New Technology] Coming Up 'ACES'

Technology & Internet

PMP-created appointment software adds features, gains national following.

June 24, 2014

Last March PCT shared with readers the story of ACES, a then-new appointment scheduling software service launched by former NPMA President Ray Johnson, Johnson Pest Control, Sevierville, Tenn. (see http://bit.ly/1kedQZY).

A year later, Johnson says he’s added more than 25 enhancements to ACES, and is expanding into other service industries.

The program, Appointment Confirmation Email System (ACES), sends to customers appointment confirmation emails that include a photograph of the customer service representative who booked the appointment, as well as a photo of the technician who will be servicing that customer’s home or business. This seemingly simple notion of putting a face to a name made a big impact within Johnson’s pest management firm a few years ago. “In today’s world, the safety and security aspect of knowing the person who is going to be coming to your door is huge. We get countless people telling us that they use our company for pest management because of the trust that is built from getting an email — within just a few minutes after hanging up the phone — with a photo of the person the customer was just speaking with,” Johnson says.

Johnson worked with a software developer to create the system, which also includes “one-click” ways to encourage customer ratings and referrals, as well as a way to send out digital follow-up thank you notes and so on.
 

Unexpected Path.

Johnson intended to use the software exclusively for his own company, but it didn’t take long for word of the system to spread. “Any time I did a presentation within the industry where I was sharing how I run my company, people would come up and want to know more about my customer contact system,” Johnson says. Seeing this demand, he began refining ACES and marketing it to other PMPs as a web-based, customizable platform on a subscription basis.

Today, says Johnson, ACES has expanded well beyond his original vision. “ACES has really come a long way and we’ve attracted lots of attention from different industries. We now have a variety of service companies subscribing to the system, including carpet cleaners, HVAC businesses, plumbers, security companies, glass installers, lawn care companies, van lines/moving companies and so on.”

While Johnson is reticent to reveal how many companies across the country are using the software, he did say nearly 150,000 customer appointment emails have been sent via ACES. Further, Johnson adds, he’s been approached by other business software companies looking to partner and integrate ACES into well known, pre-existing business management programs.

“It’s been pretty amazing. I feel very humbled and honored to have stumbled across this idea and then have been fortunate enough to act on it and take it to where it is today. We are really proud of it,” Johnson says.
 

Ongoing Updates.

Since first launching, the system has been continuously enhanced. A few of the upgrades include:

FriendShare — A feature that allows customers to refer your business and share your company’s services with their friends in a manner that allows them both to receive discounts.

Social media connectivity — Now each piece of customer communication that goes out via ACES can be customized with an icon or link to the PMP’s social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. And verbiage can be added to encourage homeowners to “like” or “follow” the firm.

Refined report cards — One of ACES’ most valuable features allows service companies to send follow-up messages and surveys to customers after a service has been completed. The latest version of ACES, Johnson says, allows companies to completely customize those report cards with a variety of question types and formats, such as rating scales and emoticons. It’s all with the aim of making it simple and fast for customers to provide feedback.

“I recently bought a new car and received a survey from the manufacturer. After 30 minutes of working on the feedback form, I realized I wasn’t even half way through it, so I just gave up on it,” Johnson recalls. “I think people are getting gun shy about all the surveys and follow-ups sent out nowadays, so we went back into ACES and simplified the customer feedback report cards.” In fact, he’s even gone so far as to add a feature that allows PMPs to use large bold type in the email that states, “Rate Us—Just 3 Questions.”

Johnson says the simplification of the report card has resulted in a big increase in response rates and cut back on response times. Further, ACES has streamlined the way in which the PMP can access the feedback sent by his customer, thus allowing PMPs to catch customer service problems early and respond. “We’re seeing now where within just minutes of sending out the report card email, consumers are responding and then that PMP is getting the feedback returned nearly instantaneously.”

Text message reminder notes — This feature allows a text message reminder to be sent to the technician or salesperson one hour before an appointment. It’s a great reminder for technicians, Johnson says, and gives them an opportunity to call the customer if there have been any changes in his or her anticipated time of arrival.

Increased customizability — ACES now features more tools that allow further refinement and personalization of customer correspondence, such as customizable scripts and enhanced control over the visual appearance of the email or text message, such as the ability to link and/or attach a bio of the employee who will be servicing the customer’s home.
 

For more Info.

Monthly subscription fees for the ACES system varies based on the number of employees accessing the software, ranging from $29.95 for five employees to $199.95 for 300 employees. For more, visit www.acesforbusiness.com.

 


Email the author at ssmith@giemedia.com.

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