Has the social world changed service delivery? Or is field service still all about a schedule, a technician, a truck, and a tool box?Aly Pinder of Aberdeen asks...
The short answer is both are correct. Field service is still all about getting a service person to solve a customer problem. Granted, sometimes this can be done remotely, without a technician at all. But for the most part, technicians still help resolve issues.
However, social is beginning to play a larger role in the execution of service. Social collaborative tools often have the perception of being a consumer medium which has little to no value in business. Much of this perception is driven by our knowledge of social coming from the games we play on our personal mobile devices or by seeing young adults wasting their day away on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. This mindset is slowly changing, and the top performers are leading the way. Aberdeen’s Social Field Service: Collaboration on the Fly (March 2015) report highlights that half of the Best-in-Class provide technicians with access to social media and collaborative tools; as compared to only 35% of peers. These top performers aren’t necessarily given technicians Facebook apps on their work phones, but they are empowering technicians with the ability to access information and communication tools to deliver faster resolution or collaborate with peers.
The future of field service demands that technicians have real-time access to data to ensure they are able to resolve issues on extremely complex equipment. Challenges like a retiring workforce, more aggressive competition, and increased customer expectations mean technicians and service teams don’t have an unlimited amount of time to find the answers to service issues. For this reason, the use of social has the opportunity to connect technicians with the intelligence to solve these problems in real-time. In order to achieve these types of gains, a few trends below should be adopted -
Do not miss out on hearing the voice of the customer.
If you haven’t heard about the empowered customer, then you haven’t been listening. Customers today have more influence and information than ever before. Consequently, it is imperative that service organisations listen to their customers, whether through channels like surveys or through social. But more importantly, organisations need to turn the voice of the customer into new products and services based on this intelligence. Just listening is a starting point, but action to improve is the true test of successful interaction between customers and the service organisation.
Escape the costs and loss of productivity incurred from all-day training sessions for the field team.
Service doesn’t stop. Equipment, parts, and machines fail. And these assets don’t care that a service organisation has scheduled an all-day off-site meeting to train the service team on the latest service techniques. Social tools allow a service organisation the ability to share best practices and new techniques via a mobile device so technicians don’t need to leave the field. This dynamic learning model also means that procedural changes can be communicated in real-time and not at one-off meetings.
Avoid the tendency to neglect investment in technology infrastructure.
Technology tools are changing all the time. The days of paper work orders and receipts are coming to an end. Unfortunately, as seen in Aberdeen’s recent State of Service Management 2015: Connect to Your Customers research (March 2015), nearly half of organisations (40%) still find that they are challenged by insufficient technology infrastructure. Despite this lack of investment for many organisations, the technology available for businesses is immense. The next generation of tools has been able to turn the volume of data flowing into the business into intelligence. For this reason, organisations need to evaluate, identify, and invest in technology tools which connect service to improved resolution.
Don’t wall off the field team from your customer.
Technicians have a strong partnership with customers. Often times, the field service technician is a trusted advisor for the customer, as they help solve problems for the customer in a very difficult time. Social doesn’t have to mean that technicians are creating blogs, but there is the opportunity that they can inform customers as to the status of a work order or their arrival on site.
Social collaborative tools can seem daunting in business – no one wants their brand sullied because a rogue employee posts something inappropriate. But despite the horror stories and PR blunders, the value of social collaboration should outweigh the potential landmines. It is important for field service organizations to avoid the fear of social, as it is more than just a consumer trend. Social tools have the opportunity to connect the field service team with customers, the back office, and each other. Service in 2015 moves at the speed of a tweet or a post, and organisations must take advantage of this increased access to information and insight. Don’t get left in the past, leverage the tools of the present to build the type of service which will excel in the future.