Across every single sector, customer service is key. In business, happy customers equal increased sales, return custom and positive referrals, all of which are crucial drivers to the success of any business.
That’s if you get it right. Get it wrong and you can expect virtually the complete opposite: decreased sales, a more fluid customer base and potentially a less than ideal reputation. With a fiercely competitive marketplace, delivering bad service could drive your customers into the arms of your competitors.
With this in mind, I will be discussing what customers want in terms of field service. By understanding this, we can implement strategies to improve field staff management and, therefore, overall field customer service.
Field staff management tips to improve field customer service
Customer service is of the upmost importance within field service. Think of it from a customer perspective. Machine or parts failure disrupts their working day, potentially hampering their productivity and, in turn, their profitability. They’re already disgruntled at the situation, so an ill-equipped, unprepared field service engineer arriving at the scene is hardly going to help matters.
Here are the biggest bugbears of field service customers:
Of the biggest gripes customers have is field service engineer time keeping. Naturally, customers want their issue rectified as soon as possible — and being promised an engineer on-site at a specific time only for them to arrive an hour later and delay the customer further is simply unacceptable. In fact, 67% of customers in one survey said they would not reuse a business if the engineer is an hour late or more.
So how can field service companies combat the issue of engineer tardiness? The answer could lie in GPS capabilities included in field service software. Providing real-time visibility of an engineer’s whereabouts means nothing can slip through the net — the engineer remains accountable throughout.
Likewise, the technology enables the capability to assign technicians based on location, as well as skills and qualifications, so engineers spend less time travelling.
Of course, as engineers travel the country, they will naturally encounter some delays, whether it’s road closures, delays completing a previous job or time lost in traffic. If an engineer knows they won’t arrive on time, having access to customer information remotely means technicians can contact the customer to update them on their arrival time. It seems that much customer frustration stems from not being kept up-to-date on the whereabouts of the engineer. A huge 73% of people said they would choose a company again if they received arrival time updates.
The all-important first time fix rate
As we’ve already mentioned, time is of the essence when it comes to rectifying customer issues. The first-time fix rate is the percentage of jobs that are fixed during an engineer’s first visit. According to research from the Aberdeen Group, the industry average first-time fix rate is 77%, growing to 88% for the top 20% of companies and shrinking to 63% for the bottom 30%.
While this figure may seem pretty good, it still means that on average, 23% of call-outs require multiple visits. That means of every 100 calls, 23 will require a second visit, straining customer satisfaction, productivity and profitability.
With customer satisfaction at stake, field service companies must do all they can to ensure the issue is fixed during the first visit. This includes:
- Considering skillsets — skill levels and experience can differ between engineers. Consider the details of the job and assign the most suitable engineer for the job.
- Giving engineers the right tools for the job — ensure engineers have the parts and equipment required for the job. Gain complete visibility of stock levels to improve stock management and replenishment, minimising delays for customers.
- Extracting more information during the initial call — invest in staff training to give call handlers the skills to correctly log an issue in the details of a This makes sure that a field service engineer knows exactly the kind of task they’re dealing with.
Reoccurring problems are not uncommon, especially as machinery and parts begin to age. In the past, field service companies were purely reactive, waiting for an issue to occur before they can take action. By this point, it was already too late; the customer’s business had been interrupted.
With the development of technology and sophisticated monitoring systems, it is possible for companies to react before an issue even occurs. For example, if a particular part is coming to the end of its life, scheduled downtime can occur to replace it, reducing the loss in time, resources and profitability. By investing in such technology, field service companies can deliver greater levels of customer satisfaction.
Whether it’s installing field service management software to improve job and engineer management or harnessing the power of technology, it’s clear that effective field staff management is intrinsically linked to exceptional field customer service. Failing to adapt to the industry’s shifting trends puts you at a disadvantage to those who have already taken these steps.