Making Field Service Call Centers More Efficient

How better phone interactions can have a positive impact on field service customers

Call centers are often the first point of contact in customer care, and call center reps have a tough role. In field service call centers, customers may call for anything from a simple upgrade to a major machine breakdown. Customer demeanors may range from anywhere from polite to rude. Customers often think call center reps will solve their issue, and their phone experience can make or break their company loyalty.

Some may wrongly assume that technicians make or break a field service business, but the call center should not be overlooked. For example, the 2015 Forrester’s CustomerExperience Index showed that improving customer experience by just 1% may increase company revenue by $15-$175 million. And since customers may be unhappy to call in the first place, optimizing call center practices makes calls more positive and boosts customer loyalty.

Below are some ways that a field service company can improve call center operations. These tips simplify a representative’s job, which makes it easier for customers to troubleshoot. Empowering customers to solve issues or perform upgrades on one phone call saves money on hiring repairmen, which results in better word of mouth.

Machine Learning Provides Insight into Customer Mindsets

Imagine how much customer service would improve if providers could mind read! Thankfully, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning does something similar. According to Harvard Business Review, machine learning technology gives machines the ability to carry out tasks without being programmed. This is very helpful in field service call centers. For example, TSIA stated that machine learning equipment can analyze a caller’s emotions, predict what he or she will say next, and suggest to agents how to reply. Although AI may eliminate some field service jobs, companies may benefit by keeping some agents. According to Accenture, 73% of customers prefer human interaction over voice recordings in customer service. With Artificial Intelligence, companies can create a balance.

Automating Data Entry Saves Time and Money

In field service, paperwork hinders productivity, especially with mundane tasks. According to Macola’s 2017 Business and Technology Trend Report, many distribution companies use automation software for data entry. Manufacturing Business Technology recently stated than an AI system can auto-collect customer information and service requests, which is most useful in high volume call centers. Once agents take a call, they can simply open customer files with the customer’s history, products and contact information.

Service Pro 10 field service mobile app displays customer list and contact information

Inside BIG DATA Magazine touts machine learning to help call center agents solve issues faster. For example, AI can help send the right technician to the right location with the right parts right after a call. This way, customers don’t wait as long for technicians to arrive, which improves company reputation. Call center agents then no longer take too long on data entry and investigating technician skills and location.

IoT Improves Preventative Maintenance

Storing customer history can also help schedule preventative maintenance through the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT technology refers to sensors embedded onto products that help predict machine failure. This enables the manufacturer to fix the problem before the equipment fails.

The Salesforce State of Service Report for 2017 found that 70% of service companies use the IoT to track product use trends. Others use the IoT for diagnostics, location tracking, product failure, and sensor data. Using IoT data can help call center agents become product experts, according to Vocalcam. Though reps may already have some product knowledge, technology that predicts machine failure will teach them how to act on a case by case basis.

Standard Call Taking Process Helps Gather Customer Data

When training call center reps, it’s important to provide instructions and a script to guide them through a call. Having a separate list of possible questions to ask in certain situations also makes training easier.

In addition to following a script, call center agents should gather as much customer data as possible. Predictive intelligence helps analyze each unique customer so the company can better serve them. Experts recommend tracking each customer’s demographics, residence and age group in every call. Agents should also note each customer’s reason for cancelling or rescheduling appointments, if any.

Gathering Performance Data Helps Analyze KPIs

According to Playvox, Key Performance Indicators are the backbone in a call center’s success. When analyzing KPIs, the system should display who took which calls, how long each call lasted, how long each customer waited for an answer, and how many times calls were transferred. These factors can determine whether training processes need to be changed as well as identify low performing reps. The right field service technology for your business can track and sometimes even analyze these factors for you. Many companies these days have e-mail and Instant Message based service rather than just phone. Companies should monitor real time in every channel in order to discover gaps in effectiveness between methods.

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