In the world of field service management, face-to-face service is mission-critical. In fact, it’s a leading competitive differentiator. When customers require in-person service for routine machine maintenance or to fix equipment, mobile workers bridge the divide between your company and your customers.
The majority of companies have taken note: 89% of service decision-makers now say the experience a customer has with a mobile worker is a direct reflection of their brand. That’s why companies must ensure field service mobile workers are equipped with the skills and technology to turn every interaction into a positive engagement.
The good news: 71% of service decision-makers have already made significant mobile investments both in improved technologies and increased headcount. However, there’s still a difference between what companies say and what’s happening in the field — nearly half of mobile workers say they still waste significant time due to inaccurate or outdated job information.
There are three ways to close the gap and truly empower a mobile workforce: enhance soft skills, develop technical proficiency, and equip workers with mobile capabilities.
Enhance field worker soft skills
It’s a given that mobile workers should have technical skills, but what about the soft skills, like how they listen to and relate with customers? The experience a customer has with a mobile worker can make or break their loyalty.
1. Focus on emotional intelligence during hiring
During the hiring and onboarding process, field service managers should take note of a candidate’s emotional intelligence. It’s a good indicator of how they will perform when they’re face-to-face with a customer.
Look for social skills such as politeness and respectfulness, and observe how they present themselves. Notice their communication style during the interview when you ask questions
- How engaged are they?
- Do they exhibit humility?
- Are they relatable?
- When you ask them to break down a complex matter, is their response easy to understand?
- How are their listening skills? Are they attentive and responsive?
2. Create a roadmap for career success
Empower field workers, new and established, with a career roadmap. Measure short-term goals over a certain number of months and long-term goals over the course of years for both soft and technical skills. Include relationship-building goals in this roadmap to ensure continuous improvement in customer service.
3. Foster workplace connections
Field service can be a solitary occupation, so create opportunities for employees to get to know their coworkers. Encourage knowledge-sharing between all of your employees through a mentoring program and conduct periodic customer role-playing exercises, to give employees the opportunity for constructive feedback on their relationship-building skills.
4. Use customer feedback to improve soft skills
If it has come to your attention through customer reviews or other channels that a mobile worker is lacking in a soft skill, sometimes raising awareness can nip that issue in the bud. Rather than making employees wait for an annual review, implement a frequent feedback loop to keep mobile workers informed about their performance. One great way to do this is to invite employees individually for brief coffee and feedback sessions.
Build field workers’ technical proficiency
Continuing education is not only a key to keeping your mobile workforce up to date and improving their service skills, it also enhances their job satisfaction.
1. Create a comprehensive training and certification program
Are your mobile workers empowered to deliver the best customer service and answer any inquiry the customer may throw their way? Establish a training and ongoing learning program for specific skills — and keep in mind that digital interactive trainings are more effective (and less expensive) than older methods like PowerPoint decks.
- Consider customized onboarding and training, such as classes and digital learning resources, that include gamification to improve completion rates.
- Ensure continued learning with a regular certification program with specific training milestones employees should meet periodically.
- Offer opportunities to learn how to effectively upsell and cross-sell in the field and provide the most comprehensive customer experience.
2. Foster learning from your best mobile workers
Make space for long-term mobile workers to share their institutional knowledge. Form a buddy system by matching a tenured employee with a newer onboarding employee. Create a knowledge transfer to digital by incorporating knowledge-base articles and video tutorials into a learning management system.
Equip field workers with mobile capabilities
When mobile workers are dispatched to jobs all day long, their most powerful tool is in the palm of their hands. Equip them with the same tools and access to information as office-based peers with online and offline mobile capabilities through your field service app.
Ensure access to customer information from a single screen
Seventy-five percent of mobile workers say they can proactively understand issues before an appointment. However, nearly half still toggle between multiple screens to find the information they need to do their jobs. When workers are equipped with answers upfront, efficiency follows. With a connected field service solution, all information is consolidated, including customer data, task details, and asset information.
Provide offline capabilities for remote job sites
Only 49% of mobile workers say they have offline mobile access to customer and case information, and only 53% have offline mobile access to knowledge bases. Successful solutions enable offline capabilities for mobile workers to download customer information and knowledge articles before entering a remote job site.
Offer job guidance
Ensure that workers don’t miss a step by implementing checklists for each job. Other helpful guidance features include a full view of the schedule and the ability to log job updates in real time from the field service app.
Provide access to on-the-go directions
Equip mobile workers with the best schedules and routes for the day based on their skills and customers. Provide them a map view and navigation features to ensure workers know where they are going and the best way to get there. This improves time to site and, by extension, customer satisfaction.
Give a full view of warranties and inventory
Only 57% of mobile workers can easily tell if a customer is under warranty for a part or service. Efficient warranty and inventory management allows mobile workers to view the maintenance information required for each asset.
Empower mobile workers with connected data
Just 50% of mobile workers have access to connected device data. Give them an edge with access to event insights and asset history. For example, say a field service app can connect to a device. If a mobile worker services an asset that measures temperature, they are notified when it has reached maximum temperature and an action triggers next steps.
Can your mobile workers alert dispatchers in real time when schedules change and vice versa? Can they receive real-time updates from dispatchers when a job is canceled? Keep scheduling information current to all parties with updates to zone, time, and availability.
Work through complex issues
When a mobile worker is unable to resolve an issue on their own, ensure continuous support with a digital knowledge base available from the field service app with articles and video tutorials. Allow mobile workers to also connect with the contact center or a remote agent, either by phone, video, or chat, to work through a resolution and reduce the chance for a second visit.
You might think your company is providing the capabilities and work environment that your field service workers need, but those workers might say otherwise. It’s time for an honest assessment: Where does your company fall? Learn more about how you can power your mobile workers’ growth and success with Field Service Lightning.
All statistics sourced from the report Mobile Workers Become the Face of Brands unless noted.