Moving towards end-to-end field service management with web chat

Jan 20, 2014 • FeaturesManagementcommunicationsmplsystemswebchat

For field service organisations looking to augment their end-to-end service management offering, there’s a range of innovative technologies that can make a real difference. We’ve already seen technologies such as cloud, mobile, social media and self-service start to extend the capabilities of field operation, however one that has had less focus until now is the increasing use of web chat.

Field service operations have traditionally struggled to unite two key elements – the technical expertise of their field-based engineers with the availability of their service desks. Not surprisingly, engineers are always busy – either travelling to a customer location or already engaged onsite.

Now with multi-way web chat, however, it is possible to bring field engineers and the service desk together. Service agents can now bring other experts from any department into their customer conversations, and – through mobiles and customer service apps – bring in field-based engineers from any location.

Web chat is one of the most rapidly growing channels – particularly among younger customers. As well as providing an additional channel for customers to check for updates and advice from the service desk, chat is now set to play an increasingly important role within field service management.

Examples of how chat can be put to work include helping field staff to exchange best practice, and also connecting customers directly to field staff to speed resolution.

Chat can enable direct communications between field staff, allowing them to use mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets to create conversation threads to share knowledge on recent issues and exchange resolution tips.

Chat can also be put to use as part of an integrated customer service approach. When clients are speaking to a service desk agent and need further assistance, the agent can quickly open up a 3-way chat session with the appropriate expert field service engineer. Often client issues can be resolved in this way without the field service professional actually needing to visit the client site.

For organisations looking to add chat to their service management portfolio, it’s important to look for solutions that can extend the value of their existing systems approach. Key functionality should include the ability for service centre agents to conduct multiple chats, chat conferencing, as well as the ability to integrate with knowledge bases and FAQs.

While chat can be deployed on a standalone basis, it delivers optimum value as part of broader multi-channel universal queue approach – ideally accessible from the service desk via a streamlined service agent desktop. Implemented correctly, chat increases choice for customers, and opens up the opportunity to link directly with service experts who can resolve client requests quickly and cost-effectively.