Ask any old-school business guru for their secrets to success and customer service will be somewhere near the top. Along with an excellent product and value for money, customer service has always been one of the pillars of good business practice. But things are changing, and the customer service of old has been replaced with a new buzzword: “customer experience”.
Before you groan, hear us out – there’s evidence to suggest that businesses with high customer experience ratings grow at double the rate of their competitors. More than just a buzzword, customer experience in field service might just be a trend that’s worth a second look.
It’s all about relationships
While customer service is about providing friendly and attentive service at key moments of contact, customer experience takes into account every interaction a customer has with your business, from the moment of first discovery through to the ongoing relationship post-sale.
And relationship is the key word. Customers are becoming demanding, and thanks to social media, expect real-time feedback and personal communication from your business. To stand out from the crowd, you have to really know your customers. While good customer service equates to one-size-fits-all friendliness, creating a positive customer experience requires forming and maintaining relationships with your customers as individuals, knowing their issues, previous history, likes and dislikes, so that each interaction is personal and memorable.
If that sounds like too much time and effort, it’s worth remembering that Amazon and Costco have two of the highest Net Promoter® Scores (a good measurement of a customer experience), proof that working hard to keep customer relationships sweet can earn a company big bucks.
Customer Experience in Field Service
Any field service business owner will know that surviving on one-off jobs would be nigh on impossible. Long-term customer contracts are field service’s bread and butter, which makes customer experience particularly relevant. If you run a field service company it’s likely you’ll already be doing some things to cultivate a good customer experience, but if you want to do more, here are some possibilities:
With Cisco estimating that 50 billion things will be connected to the internet in the next 5 years, the Internet of Things is set to revolutionize field service. Smart equipment will be able to monitor itself, preventing and predicting potential breakdowns, auto-generating service orders and relaying data. Getting on board with the IoT now will require new training and tools for your technicians, but will add huge value to your offering, and greatly improve customer experience.
Field Service Management or FSM software is changing customer service within the industry. Technicians equipped with a mobile device and FSM software have service history, equipment information, a parts inventory, telematics data, and a knowledgeable base of colleagues at the touch of a button. They’re also able to note down any new issues, keeping everyone in the company updated in real time, and making the customer feel like they’ve been heard. FSM software is known to improve first-time fix rates, and – you guessed it – customer experience.
FSM software throughout the job lifecycle
FSM software can also improve customer experience before and after a job. When an appointment is scheduled, FSM software allows the staff member handling the booking to see all the relevant information and therefore “know” the customer, making the interaction a personal and memorable one. Before the appointment, FSM software can send out automated reminders, while GPS tracking keeps the customer updated of any delay to the technician’s arrival. And after a visit, FSM software can schedule a follow-up call to get feedback on the work, and assess the customer’s additional needs.
But perhaps the most important function of FSM software in relation to customer experience that it makes it easy for technicians to fulfill their other role: being the face of the company. As McKinsey discovered, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated; in other words, when it comes to customer experience in field service, FSM software is only a valuable as the smile it comes with.
Keen to find out more about customer service and experience?
Check out these blogs:
Shep Hyken, customer service guru
Jackie Huba, customer service expert and one of the internet’s top 10 most influential online marketers
Colin Taylor has more than 33 years of call and contact center experience
Martha Brooks, queen of customer experience metrics
Smiles across the world image thanks to Richard Messenger
Customer service cartoon from RapidBI via Mighty Travels