As consumers, we have all seen how advances in technology have enormously changed our expectations of customer service. The bar is high—and we are collectively pushing it higher, demanding best-in-class Amazon-style excellence from all the organisations with which we interact.
But here’s a question. In the world of field service, where we’re sitting on the other side of the fence as a provider, not a consumer, are we demanding those same high standards of field service customer service—demanding them of ourselves, of our employees, and of our technology investments?
Put another way, are we regularly benchmarking ourselves not just against the competition—or against the customer service standards that we used to meet—but against the art of the possible?
The answer, in many cases, is ‘no’. There’s something of a double standard at work: levels of customer service that we demand as consumers aren’t necessarily the levels that we strive for as providers.
So here’s how those levels of customer service might be re-imagined, based on the kinds of innovation that we’ve talked about in recent blogs, such as 5 ways for field service businesses to boost productivity
It’s a ‘mobile first’ world
According to business advisers Deloitte, 70% of people in the UK now own a smartphone—a level of smartphone penetration that will only increase. For casual surfing, many now also use tablet computers, rather than a laptop or desktop computer.
So within field service, customer service must be centred around such devices, and around the mobile experience, in the same way that we as consumers expect to make purchases via mobile apps.
Moreover, don’t assume that this need for mobile interactivity is solely a phenomenon in consumer-facing customer service: corporate use of mobile technology is also climbing rapidly.
So ask yourself this question: is your field service customer service truly mobile-friendly, ideally with a mobile app? Or are you simply serving the normal web pages to a smaller screen?
The era of self‑service support is here
At a stroke, self-service support powerfully delivers two compelling propositions.
First, it lowers the cost of customer support, by helping customers to fix their problems themselves, or report and track faults out-of-hours, and without queuing. And second, it delivers a positive customer experience.
As consumers, we know this—and increasingly expect it. Just ask today’s twenty-somethings how they prefer to do these things.
But as field service providers, are we delivering this kind of customer service?
Do we have automated fault-reporting and automated progress updating? Do our websites contains easy-to-find FAQs, and troubleshooting guides? Can customers go onto our websites and schedule a routine maintenance visit?
Such things aren’t wildly futuristic. So why aren’t they more frequently found in the world of field service?
Your first-time fix rate starts with the fault report
Finally, a personal bugbear. Make no mistake: for competition-beating field service customer service, you’ll need a competition-beating first-time fix rate.
Yet this is where—even today—many field service businesses fall down.
So make a point of embedding fault-capturing detail into your field service business’s fault-logging portals and call centre scripts. Make sure that agents go the extra mile to extract every ounce of detail, and especially that they discover the exact specifics of the piece of equipment in question.
What’s the point of turning up without the replacement parts (or skills) to tackle not just the most likely cause of failure, but the entire range of fault possibilities?
Such basic best-practice may not sound very futuristic—but sadly, for many field service businesses, it is very definitely a leap into the future.
At Kerridge Commercial Systems, it’s our business to help field service companies improve their customer service. Our K8 Field Service software is designed to coordinate all of your processes to utilise the best allocation of resources and materials, at the right time, for the lowest possible cost.
To find out how we can help your business, please get in touch.