Becky Johnson, Content Director at WBR, says technology will compliment the human touch in service.
It has long been said that a battle rages between man and machine. There have been concerns about technology rendering humans obsolete, to the point where you’d think we were in ‘War of the Worlds’. For 2020 however, the tide is turning towards how technology can truly enhance and benefit rather than threaten.
During the research for Field Service Connect 2020 (12-13 May, De Vere Beaumont Estate, Windsor, UK) a single word appeared time and time again – ‘connected’. Leaders in service were telling me about connected services, how this was leading to a connected workforce and in turn a better connection with their customers.
So, what exactly does it mean to be ‘connected’ within Field Service in 2020, and how connected are you?
It should come as no surprise that customer satisfaction, team productivity and profitability are at the heart of any successful Field Service organisation. However, the bar for excellence has been set high and reaching it is of course easier said than done.
Through connected technologies, a cyclical process of value creation can be enabled: connect everything, connect data, analyse the data and create value. Data is the key. By leveraging connectivity and data-driven intelligence you can build true human centric value for customers.
Connected Services for Improved ROI
When a visit from a Field Service engineer is not proceeding as planned, it can often lead to a considerable waste of money for the company, a waste of time for the engineer, and a test of the patience and satisfaction of the customer. Field Service staff often feel like they are on their own or have not been given the proper information to solve a problem onsite. They want to personally take control and have insight into what’s happening. Mobility and easy and reliable access to data is a game changer in Field Service, enabling engineers to improve their flexibility in the field. A complete overview of the customer’s situation, as well as real-time guidance, are essential for an independent Field Service engineer and an optimal customer relationship.
IoT, AI and Machine Learning
It is crucial to combine key digital technologies, especially AI, machine learning and IoT to harness data and utilise it in a smart and efficient manner in order to develop an exceptional customer experience. The benefits of IoT are now beginning to outweigh the implementation costs. Sensors are needed to safely send all information across devices, data needs to be stored, processed and analysed in an intelligent way and in the end it all needs to be presented to the end user in a clear, concise format. Today’s hardware is far more affordable and connectivity has become cheaper.
Processes detailing which customers or machines regularly have issues, the exact nature of those problems, what type of solutions have been suggested, and which ones were most effective are essential. If it becomes clear that a certain solution is always the most effective for a certain customer, systems can now be set up in such a way that the problem can be fixed in advance by the right Field Service engineer with the proper skill set, or even by providing the customer with the proper instructions remotely.
This allows you to make the best use of the opportunities offered by devices connected through IoT, and optimal deployment ensures that problems are predicted before downtime occurs and before the customer is bothered by it and your reputation is tarnished!
Customer Experience as Your Biggest Competitor
In 2017, studies showed that 62% of all consumers worldwide would refuse to do business with a brand or company after just one single bad experience with customer service (HSO). It has become clear that your biggest competitor is not others within your industry, but the best service experience that your customer has ever had. In a world of fast-paced consumerism, it is no longer enough to be ‘just’ good. You must be exceptional, but more importantly, consistently so. The customer is king and they are in the driver’s seat; how you take them on their journey is up to you. Today’s customer demands a personalised and proactive approach and that is what companies now have to provide.
Customers from previous generations were no less curious than those of today; businesses simply held all of the informational cards. Customers had to make the best buying decisions they could with the limited insights they could gather from recommendations and personal endorsements.
Advertising has been replaced by targeted marketing, internal policies have been replaced by pledges of transparency and small local businesses have been connected into massive global networks.
Now the dynamics of power are entirely different and customer advocacy is a priceless asset to any business. It is no longer enough to win new business. The hard part comes in nurturing your customer and retaining their loyalty and trust.
In Digital We Trust?
As technology winds its way deeper into our lives, questions are arising. How can you trust someone you’ll never see? How can you trust an algorithm that is making thousands of decisions a second of which you aren’t even aware? How can you trust a company that tracks your movement every day? Finally, what is a meaningful definition of ‘digital trust’?
Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer shows that more than 60 percent of respondents, globally, believe tech companies have too much power and won’t prioritise customer welfare over their profits.
Mechanical trust is at the heart of digital trust. For instance: if you step on the brakes of a car, it stops. Predictable, reliable outputs are expected to be delivered every time, and so if a system is secure and performs predictably, individuals will be more willing to use it. They are able to trust it.
However, if all the mechanical systems work, but people don’t believe that we’re all playing by the same rules, trust breaks down. That is why relational trust—the social norms and agreements that address life’s complex realities—is vital. While the brakes in a car may be highly reliable, we also need a shared agreement that a red light means using them. Similarly, we need a shared agreement on when, where, why, and how, technologies are used.
To establish these rules, we need people, processes, and tools. For emerging technology, that means creating frameworks that incorporate accountability, auditability and transparency. By incorporating these principles in the early stage design of digital products and services, stakeholders can have a more meaningful say in how emerging technologies are incorporated into established social structures.
The data and technology may develop the opportunity but (for now at least) it is still down to the person to make that connection.
We’ll be debating the issues around trust and technology, connected services and the connected customer as well as many other hot topics at Field Service Connect 2020. To register your interest to attend this invitation-only event, please email Becky Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org