A recent shift in consumer attitudes toward service has created profound pressures within the field service industry. Everything from appointment windows to field technician behavior on-site has become a potential differentiator. Many companies now experience loss of market share attributable directly to customer service—even if the product or service is superior to competitors.
It’s all about engaging customers in the way they wish to interact. This means creating an experience that fulfills the key piece of customer expectation—beyond product, service, or price. Customers are far more concerned with convenience, ease of use, mobility, field technician attitude, and duration of service calls. Competitive pricing is not enough. If customers’ standards for service are not met, they tend to vote with their feet.
According to a recent Aberdeen Group study, Best-in-Class service organizations that improved customer satisfaction also saw a seven percent increase in annual revenue. Given this reality, how do field service companies go about managing customer expectations? Here are a few ideas:
Manage customer expectations as though your business depends on them—because it does
A well-known statistic offered by KissMetrics demonstrates this fact:
“71% of consumers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service.”
Before embarking on any kind of program to improve customer experience, field service organizations must first recognize its importance. With the advent of Uber and other mobile service vendors, customers expect the same of all service providers – speedy service and ease of booking.
In the mind of the customer, there is no difference between summoning an Uber ride and fixing a modem. They expect both to happen in seconds. For field service organizations, this demands a significant rethink of service, parts availability, and speed.
“Uberized” service also demands a level of real-time communication and visibility. Uber allows customers to see the exact location of their driver in real-time. Now that customers know this technology exists, they expect it in their field service experience. For instance, real-time tracking of a technician’s location could replace the unpopular wait-in windows and add a layer of convenience.
Engage and empower the customer
In the Uber age, customers solve as many problems as they can on their own phone. Self-service is great customer service, because you empower your customer with the means to take care of issues on their own time.
Consider the case of installation or a problem that requires a service call. Field service organizations that allow the customer to take as much ownership of the solution as possible create opportunities for trust and longer-term loyalty. When customers can monitor the solution on their mobile devices, arrange their own appointments, and gain access to the field technician’s estimated time of arrival, field service organizations are more likely to see repeat business and benefit from referrals.
Use social media to your advantage
Like most companies, field service organizations extend customer care and technical support communications to social media channels – particularly Twitter – to field questions, comments, and complaints. In the latter case, famous examples exist of tweets that embarrassed field service companies, resulting in negative press coverage.
Reputation management online is never easy given the uncensored nature of social media. That said, field service organizations who proactively use social media to surprise and delight customers with services and offers can take advantage of free, positive, and often global publicity.
Put the customer first and profits will follow
Customers don’t want to feel like a number; they want to feel valued. They expect service providers to understand their needs and help solve their problems. Field service organizations that orient themselves around how customers think and solve problems position themselves for greater success.
So create opportunities to stand out amongst your competitors by placing the customer first. Try personalizing their experiences to prove they matter to the organization. Customers will appreciate that their preferences, needs, and problems are a priority.
For more information about how your field service organization can manage customer experience, visit us at diabsolutfsm.com.