Whether your business is in telecommunications, manufacturing, healthcare, or any other industry, your employees working out in the field are the face of your organization. But while it is one of the most important areas of a business, field service is often the most overlooked, and usually the least likely to be provided with upgraded technology. And by neglecting to provide professionals in the field with the processes and tools to do their jobs efficiently, companies are missing out on a huge opportunity to showcase their company as modern and innovative.
Imagine you are a customer whose water heater goes out. You call the service provider to report the problem and have someone come take a look at it. The company sends a technician to your home to diagnose and repair the problem. Now imagine that the technician shows up with very little information about the issue you’re experiencing (so you now have to explain it again), they don’t have your warranty information, and they’re documenting their visit with a pencil on that white, yellow, and pink copy paper. Then they have to “call the office” to confirm your service contract or warranty information before making the necessary repairs. Even if the technician is friendly and capable of fixing your water heater, you will still probably form an opinion that the company has some broken processes and most certainly wouldn’t view them as innovative.
Now imagine that a technician comes to your home, tablet in hand, with all of your account information in front of them, ready to quickly and accurately diagnose the problem with your water heater. If replacement parts need to be ordered, they can do that too, immediately. And at the end of their visit, instead of getting a yellow copy of faint chicken scratch for an invoice, the technician can email you a clean, complete digital version. If a follow-up appointment needs to be scheduled, you don’t need to “call the office”; the technician can set that appointment for you with the touch of a button. Even with the same outcome of a repaired water heater, this is a much better Customer Experience, and you will probably have a more positive opinion about this service provider.
In her new ebook, Patrice Eberline, Global Vice President for Customer Transformation at ServiceMax, says business executives are finally starting to see the importance of investing more in upgraded tools and systems for their field service organizations. They not only see these investments as a way to stand out from less innovative competitors, but also to find new ways to increase revenue, improve productivity, and raise NPS scores. As customers become more savvy, they expect the same type of personalized, digital experience with service as they do with sales.
Not only does providing field service professionals with modern technologies make a good impression with customers, but it can be important to your bottom line as well. According to Eberline, companies generally employ service professionals based on a few key traits: technical expertise, problem-solving abilities, and the softer traits such as empathy and the desire to help others. So if they’re standing in front of a customer without complete information, they will most likely err on the side of pleasing the customer, which can result in lost revenues and leakages.
To stay competitive, field service organizations need a technology strategy that allows them to be agile and continuously improve upon their processes. And as more products become connected products, the need for integrated software within field service management will become a necessity. Companies who don’t start making steps now toward a more connected, mobile-powered field service organization will find it hard to compete.