Field service customers, like any service customers, have high expectations for their experience with your business. But receiving service in home or at their place of work creates a scenario where a customer might need more from the provider to feel in control of the situation, and to minimize frustration.
The journey of a field service customer has five distinct stages, and, ideally, the customer’s satisfaction grows from one stage to the next, with frustration decreasing. However, each stage is also rife with potential for returning to maximum frustration if certain conditions aren’t met. Let’s examine these stages, and how to maximize satisfaction at each point in the journey.
Stage 1: Problem Identification
The very fact their journey begins with a problem means customers start out in a frustrated state, at varying levels, depending on the severity of the issue. At this stage, service providers are often in the dark and can’t do much yet.
Through the Internet of Things and a proliferation of smart devices, it’s easier than ever to remotely diagnose and repair problems, or dispatch a technician before they happen. Clear diagnostic information visible to the customer and easy to access help websites offer customers more control early on. If they can fix the problem alone—great! If not, they’ve already made some effort to diagnose and repair, and feel more informed and empowered once making the service call.
Stage 2: Service Request
Requesting service to address a problem is the first opportunity for a service provider to shine or disappoint. This is where a customer might be frustrated by long wait times on a call, or a less than user friendly automated voice system, or lack of a website contact option. Different customers will have different preferences for reaching out, booking, and confirming service. The service provider should enable contact through multiple channels and fast, easy appointment booking.
Make it easy to get in touch, and don’t make the customer explain their issue more than once. Stick to the customer’s preferred mode of communication. Present realistic appointment times that are best for the customer and enable a speedy response.
Stage 3: Awaiting Service
While awaiting service, customers have yet to fully assuage their anxiety about the problem. In fact, while waiting for a technician to arrive, they are worried about the time they will spend waiting and whether help will arrive within the designated window. This is also the time they are most likely to get tired of waiting and leave the premises instead of sitting around.
Provide visibility and clear communication during this critical time. Confirm the appointment time and the customer’s intent to be there. A great experience here begins with the most accurate arrival time and narrowest appointment window possible. Customers want to know their time is valued and respected. Once a resource is en route, make it easy for customers to track location and get updated details on time of arrival.
Stage 4: Receiving Service
At this critical stage, your customer is most likely to have direct interaction with a field service professional—possibly the only face-to-face interaction with your brand. Every detail matters. Your field employee’s disposition and knowledgeability can solidify or undermine the customer’s confidence. Providing an acceptable resolution to the problem during the visit is also essential.
Train your mobile workers in positive customer interaction and provide them with all the necessary details about the customer and the job. Whatever is broken, ensuring you fix it the first time by dispatching the resource with the appropriate skills and with the necessary parts or equipment in their vehicle.
Stage 5: Post-Service Assessment
Whether it’s communicated or not, your customer has formed an opinion about their service experience—an opinion they are likely to share with friends, family, and whoever follows them on Facebook. If customers have no way to share their satisfaction, you won’t know you’re doing a good job. If they have no way to share their disappointment, the risk they will voice it to a larger audience increases.
Provide a method feedback collection and, most importantly, have a way to feed it back into your systems, so that, for example, an undesirable technician is not sent again to the same customer, or vice versa, a favored one is scheduled for future visits. Record feedback and preferences in a way that turns them into action and better decisions in the future.
The five stages of the field service customer journey can illustrate a step ladder to satisfaction, or a flat line of frustration. Working to address the specific needs of the customer at each stage is essential to ensuring high NPS scores, loyalty, and increased customer lifetime value.