James mentioned to me the other day that the VCR (for the kids, that stands for video cassette recorder) is no longer being produced. This brought on a wave of nostalgia. I remember my sister and I being so excited those times that our parents rented this new thing called a VCR and a stack of VHS movies to get us through another frigid Illinois winter weekend. We were staycationers long before it was cool.

 

But there’s another technology that I’m less sorry to see go – one in particular that just REFUSES TO DIE: The fax machine. The first time I remember saying it was 2013, it went something like this: “It’s 2013, I’m not faxing anything to anybody.”

Flash forward three years and I’m still getting instructions to fax paperwork to some companies and organizations. I wonder if those companies ever stop to think about the impact that relying on old, aggravating technology like a fax machine has on people’s perception of their brand?

What relics of the past could your service company be holding on to that are doing more harm than good? Is it the fax machine? Scheduling on a whiteboard? The telephone? Word template quotes? The dreaded triplicate invoice form?

5 Dated Technologies to Usher to Their Grave to Liberate (and Modernize) Your Service Business

1. Free yourself from the fax.

The replacement for your fax machine is a few rungs up on the new technology ladder. I use the Office Lens smartphone app to snap photos of each page of my document and compile them into a single PDF that can be emailed. The scanner feature on the office printer works for longer contracts. If your recipient insists on receiving your document through their fax machine (bless their heart), you can use the FaxFile app to send your digital files to their outdated hardware. Please kill your fax machine this year if it’s still hanging around.

2. Get off the phone for things that are better done online.

Shawn recently explained how he and other millennials tick. One of the things he mentioned is that they hate talking on the phone. I don’t think that’s exclusive to Millennials because this Gen-Xer feels the same. Telephone calls are seen more and more as an annoying interruption in people’s workdays. If you’ve caught the person at a bad time, they may not be paying attention to the information you’re sharing and not write down the appointment time you’ve just agreed to, or understood all the services you’ll be providing while you’re there. Online communication, whether through email, mobile apps or web tools are less disruptive, more informative, and create a better customer service experience. Phone calls won’t and shouldn’t go away, but they should fade away as one of the primary communication tools for your standard service operations.

3. Stop buying paper.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog and in The Digital Wrap about how companies should go digital with their customer service and send all of their service reports, quotes and invoices in digital formats. Have you gone paperless?

More than just replacing a paper version of a form or a file with a digital version, truly reap the benefits of going digital by streamlining each step of your processes that led to the point of the paper being produced. The paper is often the endpoint of a number of steps that can be done more efficiently and cost effectively by using digital solutions along the way.

4. Bust your scheduling system out of isolation.

Does a schedule change result in a ripple effect of using all the outdated technologies on this list? Phone calls to techs, printing new schedules, printing new work orders, faxing new quotes to the customer? If it takes that much effort to communicate schedule changes, then your schedule is living in isolation. Instead, it should be in an application that has a built-in megaphone that broadcasts updates to all interested parties (management, techs, and customers) when new jobs have been added to the schedule.

5. Retire that outdated website.

Take a quick look — is the copyright date in the footer of your website from the VCR era? An outdated website that obviously hasn’t been updated in years – or never completed in the first place – is a red flag to potential customers. It says that you don’t use your website as a customer service tool. That you don’t have a modern back-end to your website that your team can use. That maintaining your reputation isn’t a priority.

Creating a new WordPress site doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, and maintaining a WordPress site is easy. I’ve taught both my sister and my best friend who have zero website experience how to log in and update their websites anytime they need. They would agree – if they can, you can!

If I am to believe what I’m reading, email will be the next tool to face extinction for its lousy signal-to-noise ratio, its time consumption, and its disruptiveness. Start thinking next about how you rely on email for your business operations and what web- or app-based replacements you can put in its place.

These tools and technologies are being replaced with better, online, mobile systems. Before they are completely dead, they rattle around hurting the reputation of brands that use these aging technologies to run their business. So make sure that when customers interact with your service company, it’s through efficient, helpful, branded, online mediums that show them that your company is of this century and one that is easy to do business with.

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