Since 1968, Advantage Plumbing Heating and Cooling has provided residents and business owners in Northern Oklahoma with outstanding, affordable service.
Thanks to its reputation for excellence and reliability, Advantage has grown steadily over the years, and today the company has a large team of expert field technicians providing service to counties across North Central and Northeast Oklahoma.
But with the company’s growing size and ever-expanding service territory, Advantage faced an increasing operational challenge: an outdated phone system no longer able to meet the company’s needs.
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A small business outgrows its phone system
Advantage has built its entire business model around delighting its customers. That’s evident in the company’s nearly 100 Google Reviews, many of which contain words like “excellent,” “professional,” “responsive,” “helpful,” “expert,” “quick,” and even “amazing.”
One step in Advantage’s process has always been to have field technicians call ahead to let customers know they’re on the way. But as Operations Manager Macy Sorrell-Devereaux points out, this didn’t always work with the company’s legacy communications setup. Because Advantage’s business landlines were tied to the office, she explains, the field techs had to use their own cell phones to reach customers.
“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.”
Service Roundtable suggests RingCentral for anywhere, any-device phone service
Advantage’s phone challenges became even more pronounced when the company purchased an HVAC business in a neighboring county more than 60 miles from its Stillwater, Oklahoma, headquarters. As IT Manager Steve Trompler explains, “Every time we needed to communicate between offices, we had to pay for 10-digit long-distance calls or faxes.”
Then an advisor with Service Roundtable—the largest private association of service contractors, where Advantage is a member—suggested the cloud-based RingCentral. As the advisor pointed out, RingCentral could give both office and field employees a unified telephony platform where they could make and receive business calls, SMS texts, and team chats on any device.
“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.”
Make and take business calls on any device
As Steve explains, the Service Roundtable advisor nailed the biggest benefit of RingCentral: the ability to give everyone in the company a phone service they could use on any device.
“In the office, we’ve got both RingCentral-powered phones on our desks and the RingCentral softphone app that lets us make and take calls right on our computers with a headset,” Steve says. “Our field techs have the RingCentral mobile apps on their company-issued work tablets and on their own cell phones. That’s letting us connect with each other and with customers no matter where we are or what device we have handy.”
And as Macy notes, having the techs able to call customers from an Advantage number on the road has solved one of the major challenges the company used to have:
“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.”
Business SMS leads to better customer communication
Macy also explains that because the RingCentral softphone and mobile apps have built-in SMS texting, Advantage’s office staff and field techs are now using this format to connect with customers—many of whom prefer text messaging to a phone call.
“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.”
Macy also notes that the field techs are also using RingCentral’s built-in team messaging feature to improve internal communications. “When [our field techs are] 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.”
Building even better customer experiences
Finally, Steve offers a real-world example of how Advantage Plumbing Heating and Cooling is using RingCentral to significantly improve its customer experience.
“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.”
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Originally published Oct 05, 2021, updated Feb 24, 2022