Customers want more connected experiences. Smart businesses can respond by making field service more customer-centric.
Field service operations are often seen as a cost centre, rather than a source of competitive differentiation — but like so many trends in 2020, this is about to change.
Economic uncertainty and price-sensitive consumers means customer service is an increasingly powerful differentiator. Forward-thinking companies are doing everything they can to support customers through more transparent, flexible, and empathetic front-line operations. For the fast movers, it’s already having an impact — and for everyone else, field service is an untapped opportunity to boost customer loyalty, reduce costs, and increase sales.
Elevated field service delivery empowers agents with smart tools that provide personalised insights into jobs and optimise service delivery processes — and it’s a chance for companies to enrich every customer interaction (and every stage of the sales cycle) with as much value as possible. This involves empowering field service managers and personnel with the kind of rich 360o customer view typically found in sales, marketing, and contact centre operations.
The new IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Salesforce, How to Transform Field Service Delivery Into Impactful Customer Value, October 2020, takes an in-depth look at this idea and explores how businesses like yours can take a new, customer-centric approach to field service operations. It’s available to read now, but if you’re pressed for time, read our key highlights below.
Few things have as big an impact on your customer relationships as field service engagements do — which means they’re critical to getting right.
That’s because — for a brief moment — you’re literally stepping into your customer’s world. And because these exchanges typically happen either at the start of your relationship (to set something up) or during maintenance (to fix something that’s gone wrong), they’re powerful moments to build long-lasting positive sentiment.
But at the same time, there’s a lot that can go wrong. The IDC Study shows customers hate waiting — and they dread poor communication, badly-informed engineers, and multiple visits. They’re also protective of their personal space and privacy. Get any one of these things wrong, and you risk severely damaging your customer relationships and your company reputation.
Recent Salesforce Snapshot Research revealed that customers list expertise, communication, and proactivity among the most important customer service and support qualities — and hitting these points every time is key to retaining customers.
It’s easier to meet these customer priorities — and avoid the risks — if your field service team is equipped with the tools and information to perform at its best. And in the modern world, that means connecting field agents, supervisors, and peripheral customer teams to the overall operation.
Customer-centric field service is about creating additional value — quickly solving the customer’s problem is just the baseline. This is a multi-dimensional opportunity that touches on technology integration, process automation, advanced data analytics, and staff empowerment.
A big part of the challenge is the historical data gap between customer acquisition functions (like marketing, sales, and eCommerce) and customer retention teams (like field operations, customer services, and contact centres).
When customer-centric field service wasn’t a priority, you could get by without connecting these two functions. But the seamless, personalised services gaining traction in an experience-focused market aren’t possible without connected back-office systems that share data between both sides of the business.
When you close this gap, it’s much easier to equip your field service engineers with the information they need to deliver great services. They get much richer real-time visibility into their daily schedules, showing them not just where they’re visiting and when, but who customers are, informed by the relationship context, historical interactions, granular job details, and more.
To be able to achieve this, your supervisors need an easy-to-use central field service management system that’s deeply integrated with your CRM and other customer-facing systems. They need to be able to intelligently allocate engineers, manage customer expectations, and orchestrate positive experiences.
It sounds like a big challenge, but it’s worth the investment. When your field service team has the right information – and the right digital tools — you’re more likely to resolve service requests on the first visit and exceed customer expectations. And ultimately, it’ll help you reduce the risk of customer churn.
Many businesses are already bridging the gap between acquisition and retention teams, systems, and data in order, and deliver modern, seamless experiences — so there’s no time to waste.
In connecting these functions, businesses are transforming key areas such as:
These changes are helping field service teams take advantage of new digital tools and stay connected when they’re out in the field. In fact, according to the IDC study, 56% of manufacturers are already using mobile tools for field service management — and by 2023, 44% will use field asset data to automatically diagnose issues and prevent downtime.
As your competition adopts new technology to transform field service in your market, you’ll need to start putting your own customer-centric foundations in place.
It’s time to seize the customer experience opportunity, and explore how you can empower your field service team to exceed customer expectations and deliver personalised, connected experiences.
Read the new IDC InfoBrief to get an in-depth look at how field service is changing today, and find some expert advice on how you can start adapting your business to the service-led future.