Customer relationships are critical to any company’s success, and field service is one industry where the logistics involved in improving those relationships presents some unique challenges.
Simply put, field service management refers to company personnel resources, typically a service technician, on a client’s property, rather than at the company’s property. Some operations involved in field service management include, but aren’t limited to scheduling mobile technicians, tracking parts, and ensuring driver safety.
Some common field service industries are:
- Landscaping, construction and property maintenance
- In-home healthcare
The process of sending technicians to customer sites makes it harder to improve customer relations. For example, technicians may have difficulty making appointments on time due to bad traffic or being delayed by a prior job.
In fact, TechnologyAdvice did a survey in 2015 on the customer experience of field service, and 56 percent of participants said they got no explanation when their technicians arrived late.
Other field workforce challenges include:
- High turnover rate means customers may get inexperienced technicians
- Customers given a non-specific ETA (i.e. 12-4 p.m.) due to lack of technicians nearby
- Customer may not properly explain the issue until technician arrives
Improving customer satisfaction in field service is a challenging undertaking, but worth its weight in gold. The 2015 Forrester’s Customer Experience Index showed improving customer experience by just 1% may increase revenue by $15 million to $175 million.
Consider the following factors customers want to see more of when working with a field service company.
Speed Up Response Time
Clients hate waiting a long time for technicians to arrive, especially in emergencies. With field service management scheduling software, managers can see which technicians are closest to customer sites and schedule them there.
Customers also want quick service in as few visits as possible. Many Cloud based apps today keep track of equipment conditions, alerting technicians of power outages and other problems. Technicians arrive to customer sites immediately with product serial number and other data on hand.
Field service management apps may also scan barcodes, which further increases accuracy of work and timeliness. Having this on demand access to data helps technicians do the job right the first time in fewer visits, which customers want.
Preventative Maintenance (i.e. Keep the Problem from Happening in the First Place)
Preventing equipment problems from reoccurring, or happening in the first place gives customers their money’s worth. Besides repair, service firms should offer maintenance services as well as track parts causing equipment failure.
Customers who get routine equipment maintenance prevent minor issues from getting worse, saving on long term repair costs. These checkups also help customers interact better with service providers, which further improves business reviews.
The Internet of Things is a key in preventative maintenance. Gartner predicts that in the next five years, over 25 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT sensors in company equipment predict service outages, detect and sends requests to replace damage parts.
Detecting issues before it’s too late saves the customer time and money. IoT sensors also keep track of power consumption in equipment and alert customers when it’s time for service.
Improve Underperforming Employee Performance
Having technicians fill out work orders teachers shows how productive each employee is on site. A typical work order details the time spent on each task, as well as inventory, parts and the bill. When comparing work orders between technicians doing the same job, management may see that some employees are faster than others, and please more customers.
Field managers could then schedule technicians on the jobs they do best at. They could also better train technicians who aren’t performing at a good speed so they get better customer ratings.
Help Customers Help Themselves
Customers don’t like calling the Help Desk. They prefer to do routine tasks and quick fixes themselves to save time on a call. In fact, Conversocial’s State of Social Customer Service Report showed 32 percent of participants feel the phone is the most frustrating way to get customer service.
Customer self-service portals provide electronic product support to end users, without a live customer service rep. With online portals, customers handle routine issues at their own convenience, which eliminates long wait time over the phone.
Portals also provide data on field tech performance and how easily technical manuals are understood, which can be used to improve the customer experience.
Finally, a user-friendly customer service portal usually includes:
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and answers
- Service requests and scheduling
- Invoice and billing
- Customer service surveys
- Product documentation (guides, installation instructions, etc.)