ClickSoftware | 02.01.17
Summary >

The astonishing pace of change in mobile devices and customer behavior has left many field service organizations desperate. Our customers are more mobile than ever, and more distracted with every passing year. We don’t know what they’ll do next.

A recent study from Microsoft reported the average human attention span dropped from 11 seconds to around eight in a few short years. Perhaps our tiny screens are to blame. Smartphones, tablets, and connected devices have completely transformed the way our field service customers shop, access information, learn, and interact with their service providers.

What Does This Mean for Field Service Management?

Should mobile experiences replace face-to-face paperwork, in-home service visits, and records? Does our service communication need to happen at hyper-speed to keep up with shortened attention spans? How much education and self-service do our customers truly want?

We must answer each of these questions based on industry, customer preference, and with ample research. But one thing is certain; the customer of 2017 lives, breathes, and sleeps within arm’s reach of a mobile device.

Changing Nature of what “Mobile” Means

But the smart devices in our pockets are no longer just phones. They enable banking, chat, music-making, photography, relationship development, and more. The amazing experiences delivered via these tiny screens have significantly raised customer expectations. And this transformation has turned field service communication and satisfaction models upside down. Customers want Uber-like experiences. They want faster resolution times and deeper information about their parts. And they want reviews to prove you’re reliable.

Are you ready to meet the changing demands of mobile customers? Below, we outline five statistics that reveal the customer of 2017 is mobile. And we outline what it means for field service.

#1. By 2020, there will be 50 Billion internet-connected devices on the planet (a 100% increase over 2015)

(Source, Cisco)

Internet-connected devices include tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, virtual reality headsets, and gaming devices. It also includes sensors that send and receive information via the Internet or Bluetooth in real-time. This year will witness a surge of internet-connected devices that simplify customer’s daily lives. How will this impact field service?

For one, it will help reduce time-to-service windows. With sensors and devices embedded on everything from home furnaces to aircraft, you’ll see an explosion in the amount of data surrounding anything that runs. Armed with this data, many field service organizations will be able to predict when a part will fail. They will how to react in real-time and when to call ahead for service. This will allow field service as an industry to go from reactive to predictive.

#2. 80% of Internet users own a smartphone

(Source, GlobalWebIndex)

A few short years ago, smartphones were “nice to have” devices. Today, there are few who function without them. As device capabilities continue to evolve (e.g. professional-level photography, recording music functionality, PowerPoint and navigation features), smartphones will become even greater centers of our attention. The bottom line is your customers are using smartphones. So you must be able to deliver information, service updates, and more with smartphones – via an application, push notification, SMS (text) or email.

#3. On average, 65% of consumer digital media time is spent on mobile devices

(Source, ComScore)

Customers are not only using mobile devices more frequently in everyday life. They are also spending more time on average browsing the Internet with mobile devices (versus on a desktop computer).

Why would this matter for field service providers?

Gone are the days of pen and paper, handshake deals, and downloadable PDFs. Customers now expect to receive text updates, emails, interactive portals, or even apps that deliver service information, route timing, and more from their service provider. Are you mobile-ready?

The data above shows that mobile now represents 65 percent of all digital media time, with mobile apps dominating that usage. The desktop has lost 12 percentage points since 2013, and has dropped to 35 percent of digital time spent.

#4. By 2018, Americans will spend 3 hours and 20 minutes per day on their phones, and just 40 minutes on desktop

(Source, Zenith)

A recent study from Zenith shows that in the United States, consumers will spend much more time on their mobile devices when compared to desktop. With new features, simplified user experiences, and new apps available every day, it’s no surprise that customers are prioritizing mobile.

#5. 84% of millennial customers have used a self-service portal for customer service.

(Source, Microsoft)

It should come as no great surprise that millennials are early technology adopters. As more millennials use self-service portals, expect their older counterparts to adopt similar behavior. As our customers spend more time on mobile devices, they will expect their field service questions answered in their preferred channel.

As you reflect on what worked in 2016, perhaps it’s time to consider a fresh mobile strategy in the coming months. As customers’ everyday lives move to mobile, so too should your field service strategy.

To learn more about the changing nature of technology in field service, check out the technology section of our blog.