How to Improve Customer Engagement with Digital Reporting Software
By Brian Poage
Data is everywhere these days, and if you’re not paying attention to metrics, you’re missing out on opportunities to strengthen your business and your rapport with your customers. Digital reporting technology helps contractors easily document progress on the job and share real-time updates with their clients. This open communication keeps stakeholders informed, preventing disputes and improving customer satisfaction.
Communication is Key
Construction and remodeling projects are complex, and there is plenty of room for error in the process of designing and installing new features, including countertops. While some disputes are the result of unavoidable, unpredictable circumstances, a lack of clear communication is just as often to blame for costly scope changes.
General contractors, subcontractors and customers may misinterpret expectations not because they are careless or unprofessional but because they have different ways of communicating. And, when there has been a simple miscommunication at the bid or design phase of a project, a lack of customer engagement moving forward will compound the problem and prevent contractors from being able to fix a minor misunderstanding before it evolves into a major issue.
But how can contractors who are busy hard at work on the job site make time to carefully document progress and share it in a way that’s easy for all stakeholders to understand? That’s where modern technology comes in.
Real-Time Digital Reporting
Most contractors already have some sort of documentation process to track project progress and make sure work stays on schedule. However, if that reporting is still being done on pen and paper, it’s likely not fast or efficient enough to effectively share with customers.
Digital reporting software vastly improves the quality of data and increases visibility for both internal and external stakeholders. It reduces the need for manual data entry and helps contractors clearly communicate progress updates on a regular basis to avoid misunderstandings and save time.
With digital reporting, contractors can more easily record accurate data from the job site. Using digital devices and a variety of convenient features that go above and beyond paper reporting, they can paint a clear picture of what work has been completed by the hour each day.
- Mobile Data Capture. Digital reporting is faster than pen and paper thanks to mobile data capture. Now, instead of taking valuable time away from project-related tasks to write down information that will need to be manually entered into a digital system before it can be shared with customers, contractors can quickly record data on a phone or tablet by typing or using voice-to-text capabilities. This reduces downtime and translation errors when providing updates for clients or office teams.
- Report Templates and Checklists. Digital report templates and standardized checklists promote consistent communications by eliminating guesswork. Project managers or crew supervisors can supply an exact template of information contractors need to provide so that it can be quickly referenced when review is needed, or customers ask specific questions.
- Photos and Videos. Even better than text reports, photos and videos provide exceptional visibility into project progress, and they are easy to capture and add to digital reports. Visual documentation lets customers and other stakeholders who can’t be physically on the job site see what’s happening day to day as if they were present. If there has been a misunderstanding of design documents or schedule expectations, photos and videos can make a huge difference in catching and correcting it early.
- Real-time Insights. Using cloud storage, digital reports can be shared instantly between internal stakeholders. Onsite workers don’t need to take time out of the workday to update managers or office teams through email or messaging applications, and reports can be downloaded from cloud storage systems and sent to customers in real-time. Historical data is also easily accessed in the event a dispute does arise and proof of work is needed.
Because it is much more convenient and more streamlined than pen-and-paper documentation, digital reporting software helps improve the quality of data, not just the speed at which it can be collected and communicated. Contractors who use digital reporting can not only share real-time progress updates with customers, but they can also be sure it’s accurate.
Using the real-time insights digital reporting provides, stakeholders can be more adaptive, making accurate projections about budgets and schedules and adjusting them as needed instead of making major scope changes further down the line. Customers who are kept in the loop and who are engaged and involved in the details of a project are also less inclined to feel misled if additional expenses are incurred or deadlines are extended because they will have a better understanding of why those changes are necessary.
Additionally, contractors will be able to make more informed bids for future jobs based on the high-quality data they’ve collected from past projects, again leading to fewer misunderstandings.
Digital Reporting for Your Construction Business
It’s important to choose a digital reporting tool that makes sense for the needs of your business. Contractors need to implement documentation software that is easy to use and streamlines workflows in order for it to be effective.
With the right technology, contractors can quickly collect high-quality data from the job site and share it with customers to build better business relationships. Better communication means fewer disputes — and higher profitability.
About the Author
Brian Poage is a senior construction support manager at Raken, a cloud-based reporting and field management platform for contractors. Brian started his construction career with Turner Construction Company and worked as a field engineer, project engineer and superintendent. After Turner, he transitioned to a project manager role for the developer Holland Partner Group before becoming project manager for WeWork. A former Raken customer, Brian was impressed with the field adoption of the platform and ability to leverage analytics to improve their project management — so he joined Raken to help other companies find the same real-time reporting and insights. Learn more about Raken at www.rakenapp.com.
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