2016 is the year of service. It’s not too late to train your field service team and improve customer experiences by following these three major trends.In the field service industry, customer service is traditionally viewed as a cost center. Many still see service as necessary to maintain face-to-face interactions with customers, but not as a revenue source like, say, sales or the product itself. But, in an age when service is becoming a key differentiator for many industries, creating a quality customer experience is vital to staying profitable. That’s what customer service expert, Shep Hyken, said in a recent interview during which he outlined three major trends service organizations need to be aware of to stay relevant in 2016. Essentially, field service teams today are expected to deliver real value with each customer interaction. Shep explains what customers expect and what service organizations need to do to meet those expectations.
Top Customer Service Trends for Modern-Day Field Service TeamsBased on his experience working with numerous clients and training them on customer service best-practices, Shep’s advice for field service companies includes lots of customer touch points through the use of new technologies:
1. Invest in the Right Technology“Technology is changing dramatically. Now, so much can be done on a handheld mobile device that before would have taken a huge computer in the back of a van. Companies are able to better forecast what they’ll need on-site and precisely when they’ll get there.” For example, cable customers shouldn’t have to take half a day off work waiting around for the cable guy. Techs should be equipped with a device that sends traffic, weather, and construction alerts so he can estimate exactly when he’ll be at a specific location, and then update the customer.
2. Maintain Constant Communication with CustomersShep emphasized a vital point in field service today: “Don’t show up without calling!” “Call customer with updates. People love to get that kind of a call – it reassures, builds confidence, and creates trust. When techs show up on time after they’ve called, that’s another major touchpoint that the service team has done well. With today’s technologies, we should be able to provide the customer with continuous access to technician status.”
3. Enable Customer Self-ServiceThe final trend Shep highlighted is that service firms should enable self-service when possible. “People are enjoying self-service and getting more into it. If we train some of our customers to use our self-service solutions to track repair or tech status, they’ll be more engaged and have a better overall experience.” A recent Forrester report labeled customer self-service the #1 trend for customer service in 2016: “In 2016, service organizations will make self-service easier for customers to use by shoring up its foundations and solidifying their knowledge-management strategy. They will start to explore virtual agents and communities to extend the reach of curated content. They will start embedding knowledge into devices — like Xerox does with its printers — or delivering it via wearables to a remote service technician.” To enable customer self-service, businesses need to be supported with the right technology to deliver accurate information and give customers access to features once limited to service organization employees.
Shifts in Customer ExpectationsOne challenge service organizations are facing is, because everyone’s making improvements to customer service, the bar is rising. “When companies are able to provide an exceptional level of service,” Shep said, “it raises the game for everyone because now, the customer expects a similar level of service from everybody. Customers no longer only compare you to your competitors. They compare you to anybody they’ve done business with that created a better experience for them.”
Conclusion: Informed Field Technicians are Key to a Strong Customer Experience StrategyWhen it comes to field service, technicians are the most important piece for building lasting relationships with customers. Technicians show up when there is a problem (or before), fix it, and leave with a smile. But, if workers aren’t equipped with the right technology to meet SLAs and maintain constant communication with customers, this touchpoint could turn sour and you’ll likely lose customers.
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