In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the future of business success will hinge on providing a superior customer experience, and field service is in the prime seat to make a real impact. Here’s how to turn your field agents into service superheroes.

If you attended Salesforce World Tour Sydney, you’ll know we’re in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. During this incredible period of innovation, new technologies – the likes of artificial intelligence, robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT) – are transforming the customer experience and redefining customer expectations.

More and more, customers are expecting businesses to be just as digitally smart, always-on and connected as they are. On top of that, customers are also more empowered and informed than ever before, and they’re happy to switch to a competitor if the customer experience isn’t up to scratch.

Fisher & Paykel’s GM Global Sales Operations (and former GM Global Customer Experience), Rudi Khoury, told the audience at World Tour, “In a business like ours, you can lose a customer for several generations if they have a bad experience.”

The latest State of Service report bears this point out, with 69% of consumers and 82% of business buyers saying personalised care influences their loyalty. On top of this, 80% of executives with service oversight believe customer service is the primary vehicle for improving the customer experience.

The changing face of field service

For many businesses, field service agents are the face of their brand. The one face-to-face interaction a customer has with your business – a make-or-break moment. This makes field service a vital element of any business's customer experience strategy.

But, if businesses are to mobilise their field service agents to shape the customer experience, traditional practices need to change. The focus needs to turn from repairing products to providing the sort of customer experience that builds trust, loyalty and advocacy.

We all know that field service has a bit of a bad reputation with customers. No one likes being told a rep will show up sometime between the hours of 8am and midday. Then it’s even worse when the technician arrives at the end of a four-hour appointment window without the tools needed to fix the problem.

Perhaps in the past customers have been willing to patiently hang around the house all morning, held hostage by a broken dishwasher or, worse, without WiFi. But, times are changing.  

Connected field service is the future

Field service is a tough business, having to juggle complex logistics, rising customer expectations and costs – and no-one calls a field service agent just to say thank you.

Now, we all know the lack-lustre on-site service experience described above is not the fault of the field agent. They can only realistically provide a service that’s as good as the tools and information they’re given.

But, that’s the thing. There are modern tools available that alleviate some of these long-standing challenges in field service management. There’s now technology that can connect teams, improve resource allocation, enable improved visibility and provide the right customer insights, at the right time to deliver a fast, connected customer experience.

Out in the field, once-siloed agents can now access the tools and information to deliver intelligent and productive on-site service. From their smartphones, field agents can schedule and reroute jobs, check knowledge bases and manuals, change statuses, order parts, schedule the next technician and capture customer sign-off, among other tasks.

Not to mention, the workday of a field agent can be a lonely one, but with the right technology field workers aren’t just better connected to the customer, they’re also better connected with their colleagues. By deploying internal collaboration tools, organisations can build a sense of identity among their field service personnel, creating a community that fosters collaboration, communication, learning and sharing.

Smarter, faster and more personalised

Origin Energy is one organisation using technology to transform its service operation from the phone to the field. The energy supplier has connected each service agent through a single platform, empowering them with a complete view of the customer.

Service leaders are also able to intelligently schedule and dispatch work to assessors and contractors, and manage jobs in real-time, on any device, to provide a frictionless customer experience.

A five-star field experience

If you can eliminate friction and frustration for both field agents and the customer, you’ll be well on your way to delivering the personalised, predictive experience customers have come to expect – turning frontline field reps into brand superheroes.

Discover how top service teams are leading exceptional customer experience initiatives across the business. Download the Small & Medium Business Service Trends report.

Paul Baptist is Senior Director of Solution Engineering at Salesforce. Read more from Paul here.