Metrics such as the number of completed jobs in a day or decreasing wrench time have always been a staple for measuring field service technician performance.

However, these figures don’t provide an understanding of how your customers feel about the service. There is a surprising new set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that focus on your customers. At a time when businesses are obsessed with delighting their customers, many underestimate the role customer effort plays in determining the quality of Customer Experience.

Customer effort looks at how hard your customers are working in getting their questions answered and their problems solved. According to Gartner, the amount of effort your customers need to expend is the strongest driver of customer loyalty. Unlike most other scores, this is one metric where organisations want to score low.

The Customer Effort Score (CES) is a KPI that reveals the true level of customer satisfaction. This easy to measure metric involves ranking customer responses around one simple statement: The company made it easy for me to handle my issue. Lower customer effort scores result in longer term customer satisfaction.

Providing a great Customer Experience starts before an issue arises and becomes essential when a problem develops. To uncover all potential customer pain points, companies must consider every customer touchpoint. It can start with the customer’s first phone call, their visit to your appointment booking portal, or notification of the technician’s estimated time of arrival.

Companies can reduce customer effort by:

1. Empowering customers

People like to feel in control of their situation, and this can take the form of an easy-to-navigate website, a quick and fluid process for booking an appointment, or easy access to a representative. In fact, a recent survey found 91 percent of respondents would use an online knowledge base if it met their needs.

By giving customers direct access to a knowledge base, it lessens the burden on them to contact the service provider every time they have an issue. For example, a customer who is having a problem with network connectivity can search the Frequently Asked Questions page to find all they must do is reboot the system. This saves them the often painstaking step of calling customer service and getting bounced around between departments for a phone agent to suggest they take the same measure.

If the customer is not able to solve the problem and a service visit is required, easy interaction with their provider via their preferred communication channel is essential. Once the appointment is scheduled, they can be kept informed of the status and when they can expect the service professional to arrive.

2. Enabling employees

In the journey to decrease customer effort, it is vital to empower employees to deliver exceptional service. This is especially important for frontline employees, like technicians, who have the most direct (and sometimes only) interactions with customers.

Field service professionals need to feel empowered to do the best job possible, so customers feel that their time is being treated with respect. Technicians need to have access to essential information and tools, so they can fix the problem in a single visit.

Do they have access to the customer’s case, so they can prepare in advance? Do they have the proper tools and parts in their vehicle? Is this visit required or can the problem be quickly solved over the phone? Failure to ask these questions during appointment scheduling can result in customers repeating their problem to the technician, after having already explained it over the phone or online.

It can also result in the customer needing to reschedule the appointment because the technician arrived without the required equipment or skills. The customer then needs to devote more of their time to resolve the issue.

3. Seamless integration

To achieve the transparency and control customers want, cross-channel and cross-team integration is essential. Integrating communication channels, processes, and policies provides consistent standards for employees to follow and for customers to expect. While minimising the number of phone or in-person transfers is ideal, when transfers are necessary, it’s crucial to enable information sharing.

Lessen customer effort to improve experiences

To create a seamless experience for customers from the moment the need for service arises, it is important to examine where your organisation can decrease customer effort. Gartner found that reducing customer effort correlates with more customers sharing positive testimonials of the company. The company also found that by tracking the CES and what drives it, organisations can improve overall Customer Experience. The result is happy, loyal customers and a competitive edge for your business.

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