It’s a given that the customer is your number one priority, however, to satisfy and retain your clients, field service companies need to repeatedly provide a professional service. Here we take another look at a section from the Service Management Handbook published by advanced field service to see how.
Typically, customer service is impacted by a combination of factors that result in the customer not getting what they want, when they want it.
Organisations generally fail to deliver successful customer service if they are impacted by the following:
- Lack of integrated, real-time communication between the field engineer and the customer service representative
- Poor visibility of current stock levels across multiple systems and manual entry
- Manual processes hindered by unnecessary paperwork
This can, in turn, cause problems with accuracy and delays, or just a simple lack of flexibility, when it comes to dealing with customer issues, for example:
- Not able to notify customers if the engineer or part delivery is delayed
- Not able to order and replace spare parts quickly, particularly if an incorrect part is ordered initially
- Inefficient use of engineers’ time and resources
- Not able to respond quickly and flexibly to customer requests
Delivering a winning customer service is what sets field service businesses apart.
6 steps to service success
Given these common challenges, what can service businesses do to really ensure that what you are delivering is adding genuine value to your clients? And what can you do to ensure your value-add is fully recognised by the client?
Here’s our winning formula…
1. Provide a professional response
Whether you operate in the B2B or consumer/domestic markets, you’ll need to consistently meet basic criteria, such as responding within a set timeframe or appointment window.
A field service solution helps you to deploy your engineers with maximum efficiency and equip them with everything they need to know to do a proficient job, from the customer’s contact details to inspection sheets.
Technology gives you the option to send the engineer’s estimated time of arrival, by SMS or email, to the customer. If the engineer is running late, you can keep the customer posted on developments. In many cases, customers will find a delay more acceptable if they are informed of the reasons for any hold-up, along with the new ETA.
2. Live capture of onsite data
The information your engineers enter remotely through their PDAs should automatically feedback to your call control centre and back-office reporting and billing systems.
Customers can be sent up-to-date compliance certification within minutes after the job is completed. Sending an invoice promptly while the job is still fresh in the customer’s mind will also avoid queries and delays further down the line.
While not strictly speaking a customer service issue, having fast efficient billing processes reinforces your image as a professional service provider and helps speed up payments and improve cash flow.
3. Collect customer feedback
Rating product suppliers and service providers has become a way of life.
Customers are accustomed to completing online surveys and logging their opinions on review sites.
Without bombarding customers with survey requests, you can collect their feedback using standard forms on the engineer’s PDA or schedule a survey to be emailed to them after the job is complete.
Not only does this foster confidence that their views are valued, you can angle the questions to gain valuable insight into your customers’ thinking and identify possible opportunities to upsell the contract and services, where appropriate.
4. Sophisticated customer intelligence
Intelligence on your clients will enable you to offer a greater level of customer service and provide your teams with organisational knowledge, information and the expertise to make complementary sales.
The provision of powerful, accurate information equips your teams to better meet the needs of your clients. A CRM solution, integrated with your service management software, will share information across your whole business, helping to facilitate access to critical information at all times whilst managing your sales pipeline and opportunities.
5. Deliver on time
Accurate and consistent service delivery is essential to keep the business running to its optimum. Capturing data on the spot and time-stamping photos will protect you from becoming open to penalties and demands for refunds. Always putting the customer first and meeting their demands and expectations will put you ahead of the competition.
6. Customer web-portals
Many service organisations now approach many of their major clients as strategic partners, rather than just mere end-users, working in collaboration to ensure long-standing relationships and increased profitability.
A customer web-portal offers your clients, staff and contractors, the ability to create jobs, view history, access contract agreements and run interactive reports on their KPIs. This type of self-service access will ensure your clients are kept firmly in the loop, cementing your status as a preferred service partner – without adding to the workload of your service administrators.