Many companies manage their field service operations from merely a responsive standpoint. Leading organizations, however, gather valuable customer feedback, and use that data to improve customer relations and profitability, while creating service innovations.
Aberdeen Group marks this paradigm shift from reactive to proactive service – and customer influence specifically – as a critical driving factor in the success of any service or manufacturing organization. For instance, in their recent report, State of Service Management 2015: Connect To Your Customers, 67% of Best-in-Class companies were found to proactively capture customer feedback.
Experts within the service industry agree that the best – and most appropriate – opportunity to gain this vital customer input is in the field, with field service techs leading the charge. In a recent article for Field Service, Chris Rand (Digital Content Manager at WBR Digital) advises that field technicians are the “most likely team member to glean insights that can be both shared with the organization and used to build a rapport.” Similarly, “Uplifting Service” pioneer Ron Kaufman maintains that it’s “always going to be the service person” who effectively provides service that will gain a customer’s trust more than anyone else in the organization.
While some less-evolved companies may have a limited view of the role their tech’s play, service technicians themselves do not. A tech’s function in these organizations may be viewed much the same as it was 25 years ago: the tech shows up, makes the repair, generates a work order, and then leaves for the next assignment. Yet, according to The Service Council, field technicians recognize their evolving significance in the customer relationship, and their role in proactively driving profitability within the organization.
Savvy field service firms are more in alignment with this reality in the field, and are able to capitalize on the privileged position their techs hold at the customer site – providing a golden opportunity for learning many valuable insights that can help their business grow and differentiate.
Data Collection In Business Intelligence
Once an organization realizes the potential benefits data collection at the worksite can provide, the next steps are planning and implementation. For companies already employing field service software to replace manual tasks and increase efficiency, taking data collection to the next level – business intelligence – is a natural progression.
Figuring out what information to collect is vitally important to the success of any data collection plan. With proper planning, measuring, and analyzing, data can be leveraged to help companies anticipate and respond to trends in their operations, seize opportunities for increased profitability, discover vulnerabilities, and mitigate risks.Here are eight ways companies can begin culling the bounty of invaluable information waiting to be collected at the customer site:
- Customer Feedback / Satisfaction Rating Form
- Customer Opt-in Form
- Customer Referral Form
- Competitor Tracking Form
- Lead generation – New Work Opportunity Form
- Compliance – Safety/OSHA Checklist
- Compliance – Quality Control Inspection
- Preventive Maintenance Checklist (with Sub Inspections if issues found)
As Ron Kaufman suggests, before a company can implement any added value program to enhance customers’ experiences, they need to know how satisfied customers really are. A simple questionnaire is a perfect way to track customer satisfaction. Whatever metrics are being used to gauge overall customer satisfaction and loyalty is fine, be it Net Promoter Score, Customer Effort Score, CSAT, NPS, 1-5, or any other method. By consistently gathering satisfaction ratings, companies display a commitment to their customers, while creating benchmarks for themselves.
According to a 2015 survey by research firm MarketingSherpa, email subscription tops the list of consumers’ preferred notification of promotions and updates. 60% favored signing up for emails over other methods of contact, and the ability to choose the frequency of these messages is twice as popular among respondents than not.
Opt-in emails offer service businesses a way of offering their customers special incentives in a low-pressure manner. Gaining customer permission for marketing purposes is cost-effective as well, since digital messages are far less expensive than direct mail.
A recent Field Service News article named service techs as an organization’s “biggest referral booster.” If they perform their duties to the customer’s satisfaction, they are in a strong position to possibly persuade that customer to refer a peer.
However, as the article warns, even the most delighted customer may not send a referral on their own; the tech needs to ask for it personally with a direct request. Hopefully, if the tech has earned the customer’s trust, they will be happy to pay the highest compliment by providing a referral.
Another advantage service reps have in the field is checking on the competition. While they are servicing their own company’s equipment on site, techs can also make note of what other brands the customer is using. This information is valuable to the sales department, and offers an opportunity for the tech on return trips to measure how their own product is performing in comparison to their competitors.
Field service technicians realize that their job function has grown to include generating profits for their enterprise. Most accept this fact according to a 2016 report by The Service Council, provided that it leads to “improved solutions for the customer,” and is supported by an overall commitment from their firm towards “training, technology, and incentives.”
Most comfortable acting in an advisory role, technicians are willing to offer added value and additional service quotes as part of their company’s lead generation program. This becomes an organic process as techs identify potential service problem areas and propose recommended work as follow up with the customer.
In order to determine that the worksite is OSHA compliant, service reps can utilize a simplified Safety/OSHA checklist, saving time and eliminating any confusion. It also ensures a verifiable report for management to ensure that all specific health and safety standards are being met.
The best service firms control the quality of their work with inspections, such as pre, and post-work photos and questions. Mobilized inspection software to standardize and duplicate inspection forms help streamline the process and relieve some of the pressure on field techs.
Designed to run on their mobile devices, this software makes it possible for techs to fulfill requirements and report compliance in a timely and consistent manner.
Preventative Maintenance technology enables a service business to go beyond a break/fix schedule to help prevent potentially serious equipment repairs before they occur. Customers will appreciate a proactive approach and service value, while organizations will reap the benefits of having predictive, scheduled revenue.
Capturing and sharing Preventive Maintenance checklists on a mobile device make it easy for techs to help the enterprise increase both cost savings and revenue, while strengthening customer relationships.
Profitability Rooted In Customer Satisfaction
As customer satisfaction has become a primary driver in profitability, leaders in the industry utilize observations from mobile field forms that will help to both predict and satisfy customers’ future needs, while propelling their business forward.
Rethinking the customer service model to include profitability requires dedication, training, and leadership to help guide the evolving nature of the field tech’s role.
Watch this quick video for tips on “Conducting Customer Service Surveys.”