Are You Ready to Meet Customer Expectations in 2018?

Mar 01, 2018 • FeaturesFuture of FIeld ServiceMachine LearningOn DemandPaul WhitelamClickSoftwareUser ExperienceUXCustomer Satisfaction and Expectations

Paul Whitelam, Group Vice President of Product Marketing, ClickSoftware takes a look forward to see what the key customer expectations challenges are set to be across the coming year...

Field service organisations are always thinking about evolving customer expectations. Major drivers of this evolution have included mobility, new service standards set by companies like Uber and Amazon, and businesses increasingly measuring their service operations by customer satisfaction scores. Through improved processes, smarter software, and cloud computing, many field service organizations have transformed how they view and deliver service. But their work is never quite done. In 2018, customer expectations will continue to rise. Fortunately, so will the capacity to meet them.

These trends are likely to shape the next stage in customer experience and service delivery. Let’s explore how technology can enable a business to embrace the future and delight their customers.

Everything on Demand

Fast delivery isn’t just for pizza anymore. Video streaming services give consumers instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows and on multiple devices. Too busy to run to the grocery store? Use Instacart or Postmates to have dish detergent and avocados brought to your door. Amazon now offers same-day delivery for select items.

It’s not your direct competitors setting customer expectations, it’s the best experiences these customers have had anywhereAs has been the case for some time, it’s not your direct competitors setting customer expectations, it’s the best experiences these customers have had anywhere. And today, they can what they want, and they can get it fast. A first-time fix will become table stakes for most service businesses. A truly agile field service organization will use mobility and automated schedule optimization to shorten the time to job fulfilment.

Having complete visibility into resource location and availability can enable reshuffling schedules on the fly, providing narrow and accurate appointment windows, and giving customers the ability to self-book appointments from their mobile phones will provide the on-demand experience they expect.

User Experience

There are times when hailing a taxi is both faster and less expensive than choosing Lyft or Uber, and yet customers continue using ride-sharing apps. This shows how much they value transparency and visibility into the service process. The ease of payment can’t be beaten—the price for a ride is shown up front and the customer is charged automatically. This level of transparency can also be provided to the service customer. The ubiquity of mobile devices means giving real-time information to customers about the location, and the likely arrival time, of the service professional—increasing service satisfaction, and acting as a differentiator in competitive markets.

Customers will be able to use a variety of channels to communicate with the service provider about the service visit. This is true on the day of service (providing apartment access details for example) as well as before the day of service (sending photographs about the issue that needs to be addressed to better prepare the service provider) and after (questionnaires about the quality of service when the visit is fresh in the mind).

The customer can stay involved in the service delivery process, and feels more informed and empowered as a result, all accomplished with speed and ease.

Machine Learning

As more field service organizations have moved to cloud-based solutions for managing their operations, they have the ability to leverage massive elastic computing power to rapidly process mind-boggling amounts of data into automated scheduling decisions. No longer constrained by infrastructure limitations, they can take full advantage of machine learning, mobility and data management that combine to enable improved operational efficiency and better customer service.

In 2018 and beyond, your customers will expect speed, transparency, precision, and frictionless interactions.Just as Netflix can provide uncannily specific movie recommendations based on the habits of similar users, using historical data about service delivery and the outcomes of previous engagements enables organizations to build models that are increasingly precise about the time a certain type of job will take a specific technician, and which tools or parts will be required. As organizations improve their understanding of the prerequisites of a successful task, they will get better at forecasting task and travel times, and develop better schedules.

By combining this with machine learning models that incorporate traffic patterns, service providers are becoming increasingly precise in predicting the field service team’s daily schedules and can accordingly make more precise promises to their customers—and keep them. Accurate information about the time and duration of a service visit—and that ability to deliver—will increase not just customer satisfaction, but also trust and loyalty.

Predicting the Future of Field Service

In 2018 and beyond, your customers will expect speed, transparency, precision, and frictionless interactions. No one can guess what disruptive app or service model will reset their expectations next, but honing the ability to deliver on the above is a safe bet. Understanding the factors that make for great customer experience will make it easier to assess which existing and emerging technologies will help you meet, anticipate, and outpace service expectations.

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