Back in 2014, CSG conducted a study among field service customers which revealed a full 89% desired an “Uber-like” tool that provided technician location and exact arrival time. In addition, 70% reported they wanted access to technician name and photo prior to service.
The study triggered a tidal wave of articles, discussions, and, in our case, additional research. Unfortunately, it seemingly didn’t trigger a rapid ‘Uberization’ of service among the majority of suppliers.
As Amazon, Uber, Airbnb and other upstart organizations continue to heighten customer expectations, field service organizations have struggled to keep pace with new demands. Between real-time communication tools, social media, wearables, the Internet of Things (IoT), and augmented reality, we’re all playing our fair share of technology catch-up.
But just how far off are we? Great question. This is exactly what we set out to answer when we commissioned our study, “Field Service Report 2017: The ‘Uberization’ of Service.”
In our study, we polled both consumers and suppliers on their top priorities across communication style, field engineer visits, and expectations for trends and technologies hitting the market in the next five years. We sought to find out just how well service suppliers are meeting customer demands.
In short, the research revealed major disparities. A key discovery was the fact that suppliers are seemingly focused on the delivery and scaling of new technologies, while customers are still yearning for fairly basic real-time communication and transparency surrounding service delivery. With or without new technology, that’s something every service organization can get better at.
Without further ado, here are seven must-read insights from the study. To download the full version, you can find it here.
1. Suppliers Report Customer Satisfaction is King
When field service suppliers were asked what their organization values most in terms of determining field service management effectiveness, 61% of respondents cited “customer satisfaction” as their top metric.
This reveals that on the whole, service provider organizations understand how fundamentally important customer satisfaction is to their business success. But by digging a layer deeper among suppliers, we found staggering differences in methodologies for discerning satisfaction scores. Suppliers must refine their processes, if they wish to meet specific (and evolving) customer demands.
2. Consumers Want Faster Service Resolution
On the other side of the equation, we asked consumers pointed questions about what they desire most out of service scenarios. When asked specifically about service communication, the majority of customers reported, “not wasting time waiting for an engineer or technician to arrive” as a top benefit to streamlined communication. In addition, 60% of consumers indicated long wait times between field service appointment booking and the actual service, which led to a bad overall experience.
A key differentiator for suppliers in the coming years will be speed. Consumers are living in a world dominated by instant entertainment, same-day shipping, and on-demand everything. If field service providers wish to survive, they must speed up service.
3. Service Speed is Not a Top Supplier Priority
In asking how suppliers measure success or failure of service, only 3% reported “response times” or “optimizing service delivery” were most important. This demonstrates that while customer satisfaction is high on the supplier agenda, businesses are falling short when it comes to specific service criteria.
As stated above, customers want faster service resolutions. While every industry will face unique customer demands, suppliers must wake up to the fact that their customers need faster response times. It’s time to get in front of customers, understand their needs, and meet them in real-time.
4. Consumers Expect Deeper Engineer Info & Uberized Service
When asked to rate emerging field service trends likely to become widespread within five years, the majority of global consumers indicated “direct and live communication with the field service engineer” would become commonplace. In the US and UK, live tracking of an engineer’s location was cited as a top trend.
Consumers have come to expect the Uberization of field service. Can we offer a sleek interface and a fleet of black SUVs overnight? No. But, we can most certainly get our customers more information about technician location, service timing, name, photo, and more.
The Uberization of field service will take a lot of tough work. But would we even be in service if we didn’t enjoy a little hard work in the first place?
5. Suppliers Struggle to Communicate In Real-time and Track Technicians
As consumers come to expect real-time technician tracking and Uber-like experiences, suppliers are struggling to provide these features. When asked about top challenges, suppliers cited, “communicating with customers in real-time,” and “enabling customers to quickly and easily find out the status of their job.”
It’s worth noting that both of these issues stem from suppliers being unable to track the location of field service engineers in real-time. The obvious first step in fixing the problem is to implement a system, or set of communication standards that would improve supplier line-of-sight on technicians during travel.
6. Consumers Want Appointment Booking to Be Easier
It came as no surprise that appointment booking made the list of consumer priorities. Taking valuable time away from work to wait hours for a technician to arrive is an obvious frustration for nearly everyone who has suffered through that process.
Results from the consumer survey showed that, “ease of booking” was valued most by all respondents, with this being most prevalent in Australia (46%) and Italy (41%), but least likely in Spain (29%) and the UK (28%).
If suppliers wish to keep up with customers, they must make the booking process simpler, and available across a variety of channels. Mobile, web, and phone-based booking must be available to consumers wishing to book in their preferred channel.
7. Suppliers Struggle to Manage Technician Schedules
As discussed above, customers want shorter appointment windows, transparency around technician arrival times, and Uberized service. Based on our survey, it seems suppliers are struggling with these heightened expectations.
In our results, the top challenge cited in the US, UK, and Australia was “balancing field service team schedule to best meet business and customer demands,” while across continental Europe respondents cited “optimizing the scheduling of the field service team” as the biggest challenge.
Balancing and optimizing schedules has been a challenge in field service since the very beginning. But as technology evolves and consumers come to expect more from suppliers, it is essential that organizations embrace digital transformation in order to survive. Customers will increasingly want on-demand service, communication in the channel of their choice, and personalized messages about arrival time and technician details.
To access the full results of the study, please visit clicksoftware.com.
How the Study Was Conducted
In late 2016, ClickSoftware commissioned research agency, 3GEM, to conduct two independent online surveys — one targeting customers of field engineer services, and the other polling suppliers of field engineer services.
Both surveys were conducted via two independent online questionnaires. Respondents from seven countries – the UK, US, Australia, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – were polled for both surveys, with a total sample size of 2,100 respondents for the consumer survey, and 600 respondents for the supplier research.
For more news, trends, updates and advice, head to the ClickSoftware blog.