What do the growing customer expectations mean for field service organizations (FSOs)? Delivery of the basic service, the installation, maintenance, or repair of the asset is no longer enough. Customers want real-time alerts, and they are no longer willing to wait for a technician to arrive within a scheduled hourly window. In some cases, customers even want real-time visibility into the entire service process from their desktop or mobile phone, or direct access to technicians. Customers are looking for more than just a qualified technician who arrives on time.
They want tailor-made service plans, self-service and remote service options, flexible scheduling, visibility, up-time guarantees, and other features that can strain the capabilities of FSOs that have not yet made the right technology investments or mastered the use of those technologies. Because of their exposure to other types of advanced, connected services, customers expect that FSOs will provide real-time alerts about technician arrivals; that technicians will have immediate electronic access to their customer histories and all the repair information they need to complete the job; that the FSO can respond quickly to emergency calls; and that they will have the ability to receive electronic updates about their service status on their own mobile devices.
In many cases, the features customers are looking for may not directly reduce costs, but they do help build brand trust and loyalty. For example, systems that e-mail customers the name and photo of the service technician prior to arrival don’t improve the service outcome, but they do provide peace of mind to customers, who will remember that the next time they need help. According to Aberdeen’s State of Service 2017 report, the top priority of 58% of respondents to the field service survey was improving customer satisfaction. Savvy service executives are shifting their attention from cutting costs to keeping customers happy in an effort to be more competitive and create new revenue streams.
Use Technology to Maximize Your Competitive Advantage
- Make a case to leadership that service is a critical, customer-facing activity that will drive future profits.
- Identify what process changes need to be made. Applying technology to inefficient or redundant processes simply delivers poor results faster. Work with stakeholders within the service operation to outline all processes and identify bottlenecks or redundancies.
- Gain a thorough understanding of your customers’ expectations and desires. Surprisingly, many companies fail to include their customers when they begin taking steps to improve their service operations. Survey your customers, find out what they like or don’t like about your service, and ask them about their own pain points.
- Use that feedback to formulate a service upgrade plan and develop employee training programs. Once you’ve identified the problems you need to solve and the customer needs you want to meet, design your new service environment to match those needs. End users across the enterprise (including managers, dispatchers, drivers, technicians, etc.) should have a voice in that design. They will also need to be trained to use the new technologies and processes both in the office as well as in the field.
- Invest in the right technology and equipment to achieve your service goals. Technicians won’t be able to execute on the new plan if they don’t have the right tools (rugged mobile computers) and information (access to real-time customer data) to do the job.
The information you gather from outlining you service processes and surveying customers will guide your technology solution. The software should provide 100% of the features/functions you need for your staff to provide high levels of service and gather data to enable continuous improvement.
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