The Customer is King
We live in a world where consumers increasingly demand instant gratification. We expect online deliveries to arrive within 24 hours and want an immediate response and resolution when we call a customer care hotline. People are time-poor and expect services to be delivered at times that fit in with their busy lifestyles. In the competitive field service management environment, there is increasing pressure for organisations to integrate a customer-first approach into operational processes and overall company culture. Building a reputation for the very best customer service has never mattered more.
From a revenue perspective, happy customers are repeat customers and customer retention trends data shows 65% of sales come from existing customers, who spend on average 33% more than first-time customers. While this clearly matters within a retail environment where customers can quickly switch supplier, delivering a high standard of customer service is also important for landlords and social housing contractors. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 sets out rules for anyone who supplies goods as part of a service or contract for work and materials, even digital content. Suppliers can maintain compliance with legislation while using these rules as a foundation for developing organisational best practice.
Having the right people on board is key to getting it right. In the current skills shortage, the best talent will be drawn to most efficient operations that can offer them a more streamlined and straightforward working day. They want easier processes that don’t over-complicate things and allow them to get on with their key trade and skills.
1. Self service
Implement digital solutions to provide customers with the opportunity for self-service using online booking, offering the flexibility of 24/7 access, while reducing time for staff taking calls and automating bookings wherever possible. Some customers still prefer to talk to a person, so appointments made via an office-based operator should also be scheduled with a customer-first approach.
2. Real-time information
Tools such as Operative On Way give customers real-time information about their appointment and the operatives’ expected arrival time. Just feeling like they are being kept informed can make a big difference to their overall impression of the visit and is useful for communicating last minute delays due to traffic or job over-runs.
3. Quick response
A customer-focused approach requires a commitment to quick response times in emergencies and for unscheduled repairs. This can be achieved using agile software solutions that update dynamically as each day unfolds, as well as making sure the most suitable operative is dispatched to each appointment and reducing the need for repeat visits.
4. Empower operatives
Successful organisations are implementing solutions that empower operatives, giving them access to real-time information about next scheduled jobs, so those with most suitable skillsets arrive fully prepared at the right jobs.
5. Streamlined processes
Streamlined processes using digital tools require less data entry in the field, saving time for operatives and letting them focus on delivering their core professional skills – one of the main reasons they chose their trade in the first place.
6. Employee engagement
Employee engagement includes providing regular training and support in customer service best practice. A friendly smile, good manners and a positive attitude can transform the customer experience from mundane to memorable, for the employee as well as the customer. Employees want to feel fulfilled and like their job has some purpose and contributes to a greater good. Getting good customer feedback matters to them individually as well as to the organisation overall.
For Operational Efficiency:
7. Greener policies
Smart organisations are adopting greener policies such as paperless systems and digital tools that reduce waste and reduce costs. Software that optimises journey times can have a significant impact on fuel consumption, helping the environment and making critical savings.
8. Automated processes
Automated processes help operators at base and field operatives to work more quickly and efficiently, increasing overall ROI.
9. Actionable insights
Digital solutions provide data for actionable insights, helping managers to identify areas for improvement in customer service delivery. The more this data is analysed and interpreted into useful information, the easier it becomes to deliver increasingly great service while looking after the bottom line.
10. Encourage feedback
Encourage feedback from customers and respond to every review with a growth mind-set. There will always be occasions when things don’t go so well, but these provide opportunities to understand specific challenges and circumstances and improve service delivery in future.
Get the right tech on your team
Organisations that implement designed-for-purpose digital field service management solutions can make the most of this latest technology for optimal efficiency and productivity. It’s important to seek out a technology partner with experience of the sector, a history of innovation and R&D, that is established and secure to offer support in the long-term. Many organisations will also be looking for scalability and potential to integrate with other systems, and of course, a customer-focused provider that understands the challenges of their sector and shares their values. This leads to a true partnership where the provider is striving for the most cost-effective solutions that support its customer’s efficiency and growth without cutting corners.
Powerful technology solutions also help with attracting and retaining the very best field service operatives. The current skills shortage means competition for good tradespeople has never been fiercer. In a people-orientated business, it’s critical to empower employees with the right solutions and tools, from experienced and reliable providers, that make their jobs easier and more fulfilling. And happy employees mean happier customers. There’s a very high chance that means a greater ROI too.
It’s a win-win-win.
For a more in-depth look at delivering best customer service please read our recent whitepaper, Lessons Learned During the P Word. The whitepaper discusses how the field service management sector is already responding to the ‘age of instant gratification’ and adopting new and proactive ways to deliver improved customer service.