Sara Mueller, Field Service Portfolio Director, Program Development, Worldwide Business Research reflects on her research in building the program for this year’s Field Service USA conference and explores the growing connection between technology and customer experience...
Nurturing a customer-centric culture was a common 2017 priority expressed by service executives when I began researching the Field Service Fall program at the beginning of the year.
No matter what industry or how large the organisation was that I spoke to, no matter how much they were embracing digitization or mobile technologies, putting customers first was the common theme that weaved its way through the strategic vision of service organisations.
While this is a common theme, there are many different routes being taken to accomplish the goal of building a customer-centric culture. Each year service organisations are connecting more and more of their devices with the Internet of Things (IoT).
While IoT is being used to achieve greater operational efficiency and move from reactive to predictive service, service organisations are also exploring how they can use IoT data to build customer loyalty and competitive differentiation.
Most importantly perhaps is that IoT allows service organisations to monitor how customers use their products. They can tell when a machine is operating and whether or not certain features are being used properly or even at all.
This creates an opportunity for service organisations to step in and train their customer on better ways to use the equipment or how to take advantage of different capabilities that ensures they take full advantage of their product.
Technicians build rapport and are more likely to be viewed as the “trusted advisor,” what so many service organisations strive for. This also creates a doorway for discussing product or service upgrades depending on how the customer is using their product.
In order to nurture a culture that puts customers first, service organisations are shifting the conversations with their customers to be about buying results, rather than buying products.
With new business models and service contracts that allow customers to have options like only paying for up-time of equipment or discounts when equipment is not functioning properly, customers have more faith in what they are buying. It aligns the goals of the service organisation with that of their customers, and builds differentiation, customer loyalty, and even greater profitably when the right model and pricing is established.
Service leaders are deciding which type of technician is best for remote locations or key accounts, for tier one calls or escalated issues.
At the end of the day, in order to have a customer-centric culture, service organisations need to know what their customers think of them and what they are doing right and wrong. While customer satisfaction levels have long been an indicator of service organisation performance, many organisations are moving to embrace more strongly Net Promoter Score (NPS) programs.
What good are high customer satisfaction levels if your customers end up leaving out the back door?
Once an effective NPS or other standard metric program is in place, service leaders can take the knowledge gained to modify and evolve their customer offerings to line up with what their customers truly value.
Perhaps the hottest buzz word used in field service today is the “uberizing” of service in order to put the customer first.
While this is a simple gesture, it’s been creating phenomenal results in customer satisfaction. Organisations are also creating processes and trainings that ensure employees have the authority and empowerment necessary to take the extra step to rectify a customer crisis that will result in raving fans.
As service organisations, customers have always been the reason for business. But by leveraging new technologies, committing to growth, and aligning business goals with that of their customers, service organisations will achieve the customer centricity goal driving their business this year.