The demands of customers today reach far beyond what many traditional field service organizations are used to – or equipped to – deliver. I’m here to tell you, folks, it is time to step up to the plate – and fast. The only path forward in service is to truly understand and embrace your customers’ expectations and look for ways to deliver on, and even surpass, them. Most customers are looking for that “Amazon experience” – fast, easy, and convenient. Why do we love Amazon Prime so much? Because it protects our time, which is our most valued commodity. As a field service organization, you need to look for ways to mirror some of the service experiences you enjoy most. Generally speaking, here are three essential components of customer experience you should focus on to stay relevant and competitive.
Providing Timely Information
The days of four hour service windows being acceptable are behind us. More and more, customers expect to have real-time insight into the service technician or delivery person arrival. One example of a tool that can help you provide this sort of information in a clean UI is Glympse. Glympse’s enterprise application, En Route, begins providing information with the initial service confirmation, and customers receive continuously updated appointment and technician visibility that culminates in a live map view of the technician’s location as he/she travels to the appointment destination.
Providing location information to customers can truly transform their experience because it gives them back control of their time. “When customers trust their technician will arrive at a certain time, they can manage their day more effectively. Field service representatives also benefit from a transformed image — they are no longer seen as disruptive. Instead, they are greeting a customer who is happy to see them, not seething with frustration as an extremely long appointment window drags on and on until the service provider finally arrives. They’re actually helping customers use their scarce time more wisely,” explains David Troll, senior VP of sales and customer operations at Glympse.
Safelite AutoGlass provides another great example of providing customers timely information leading up to a service visit. The company sends an alert prior to service with the name of the technician that will be arriving that day to perform service, along with their photo. This is great as a safety measure for the customer, but also services to make the service experience more personal in advance.
Enabling Customer Involvement
The second key aspect of customer experience that I wanted to touch on is how you involve them in the process. Providing information to them is step one of the value proposition, enabling two-way communication and the ability for them to interact throughout the service experience is equally important. This is commonly referred to as “self-service” – giving customers the ability to schedule appointments online or through an app and letting them provide updates in response to data shared – for example, if they will no longer be home for a scheduled service visit.
This two-way communication benefits your organization not just in the sense of giving customers the type of experience they want, but also in the data shared. A technician showing up to an appointment only to find the customer isn’t there is far less likely to happen if you have them an easy way to let you know they will no longer be available. Some companies have concerns about exactly how much data and insight to provide and what degree of self-service to enable, and discussing this is a great idea for another column!
Always Follow Up
The third essential element of a modern customer experience is to always follow up. Ask about the service delivered, and make it easy for customers to give feedback. I’d venture to guess not many customers today are willing to spend five minutes on the phone answering feedback questions, but if you have a well-designed survey pop up in your mobile app soon after a visit, you’ll have a greater likelihood of getting some insight.
Now is the time to implement these types of changes if you aren’t already. I asked Troll when he thinks all service companies will be providing these sorts of customer experiences and he said, “Very soon. Today’s brands view customer experience as a strategic differentiator — everyone seems to agree on that. But customer experience is broken, and incremental improvements to outdated models aren’t going to fix it. The new consumer lifestyle is inherently on-demand and mobile — and thus requires a new customer engagement model.