Connected Customer Experience
Commercial Service Contract Association:
Industry leaders have launched a new trade association for commercial service contracts, with the inaugural meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning. But unlike with product warranties, extended warranties, and protection plans aimed at the buyers of consumer goods, the boundaries of the commercial service contract industry are not as sharply defined.
It is probably no surprise to you that truly exceptional companies have been able to generate substantial profits from better management of their service supply chain. In fact, some companies have seen tremendous growth in both top line revenue and bottom line profitability by maximizing the value of their Service Supply Chain.
In essence, they’ve gone through a major transformation from managing their services and support operations as cost centers to profit centers, or strategic lines of business. For best in class companies, service can present 45% or more of total corporate revenue and 30% or more of total corporate profits. Furthermore, companies who are truly maximizing the value of their service supply chain and managing it as a profit center can experience Net Operating Income (NOI) in excess of 25% on the service revenues they generate.
Service Contract Market Size:
There are signs that the market is topping out at current levels, although home warranty sales continue to soar. Other types of protection plans, such as vehicle service contracts, mobile phone insurance, and extended warranties for brown and white goods, are no longer growing like they used to, though jewelry and furniture protection programs showed slight growth.
Consumers now reside in a digital world where instant gratification is the new currency. The rise of Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime Now and Uber ensures they can avoid any pain points and get what they want and when they want it in a new on demand economy.
However, the ‘we want it now’ consumer continues to evolve and now expects a personalized experience too. If online services know what their favorite movies, TV shows and music they like, surely retailers will know what they like too.
Tech savvy users are looking for businesses to lead the way with new technology that continues to treat them as unique individuals. A generic marketing e-mail with their name pasted at the top in a different font is no longer going to cut it.
The evolution of the customer experience has even given birth to the phrase Martech which is the blending of marketing and technology. Industries across multiple industries are all facing the same problem as the digital transformation of everything gathers pace.
Keeping up with all the latest trends across the digital landscape is no longer an option it should be compulsory for anyone serious about the future of their business. The good news is that you are not alone and the fact that 76% of field service providers were reportedly struggling to achieve revenue growth should be the only wake-up call that you need to take this seriously.
However, there are numerous field service winners here too. For example, in 2017 there are many organizations providing seamless digital experiences and delivering faster resolution times. It is often said that technology works best when it brings together and here is a selection of great examples.
The Value of Improving the Customer Journey
Personalization is much more than just another industry buzzword but a reaction to the demand driven by consumers. Providing the right experience at the right time is an art that many are still learning to master. But, the ability to increase 15% percent of revenue and lower the cost of serving customers by 20% is a language that every member of the boardroom will understand.
Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Customer Service
According to Microsoft, an incredible 97% of consumers advised customer service is critical to their choice or loyalty to a brand. But it’s also crucial to remember how this is across self-service, social, phone, mobile and a plethora of devices.
The divide between offline and online is disappearing. No matter what device we have at hand, wherever we are located and if we are using our keyboard, touchscreen or even voice, the experience should be the same.
Poor Customer Service Will Be Punished
It is well understood that it costs businesses more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Savvy consumers will happily shop around for the best deal. Ironically many companies seem to treat their current clients with contempt arrogantly and assume they will stay with them regardless.
The reality here in 2017 is that 64% of consumers have switched providers in at least one industry due to poor customer service according to Accenture. We no longer suffer fools gladly, and a lack of patience or frustration will ensure most consumers will switch providers after only one negative experience.
In this digital age, loyalty must now be earned rather than taken for granted. The only question that remains is what are you doing about it?
Time Is Money
An Amazon Prime account makes one-click ordering and delivery within 2 hours a reality. Maybe, we shouldn’t be too surprised how our time is becoming increasingly valuable. Forrester recently advised that 73% of consumers will happily admit that their time is the most important factor where businesses need to focus.
Pain points such as long-winded automated phone menus, cumbersome online chats or waiting around between 9 am and 6 pm for somebody to call you will no longer be tolerated. Organizations need to manage the expectations of their customers and remove friction to offer a truly simplified service in a timely manner.
Make Way for The Internet of Things (IoT)
With 50 Billion internet-connected devices by 2020, the time to take IoT seriously is right now. Consumers do not care about your product roadmaps; they now expect the same experience with any of their devices.
There is already a long line of competitors offering similar services. Failing to keep up will leave your brand looking like a tired Sears or J. C. Penney store that failed to keep up with the speed of hyper change across the digital landscape.
It is hard to imagine how life would be without Google Search? “Google it” has come to symbolize the simple and fast way to find anything we want from any source around the world in just a few seconds. But the way the service technicians find the information they need to perform a service job remains archaic, hard, and time-consuming. Technicians spend up to 6 hours in a week researching the information they need to do their jobs. The lack of knowledge at the point of service results in extended downtime for customers, secondary service visits, and lost productivity.
Simplifying knowledge delivery and access to your service technicians and customers to find relevant service knowledge and information benefits all stakeholders:
- Field Service Organizations that leverage knowledge management have higher first-time fix rates, better Service Level Agreement (SLA) compliance, and improved profit margins.
- Service Technicians with access to relevant knowledge will be able to diagnose and resolve problems faster, improve utilization and productivity, and resolve more customer issues on the first visit.
- Customers will have better service experience, improved product uptime, and faster answers using self-service customer portal.
How can you deliver a Google-like experience to access your service knowledge? Here are ten capabilities that enable you to share, use and manage the knowledge more effectively in field service organizations.
1) Simplify search to access all service knowledge and information
Most of the knowledge in companies is scattered across disparate systems and organized into folders that force the users to waste valuable time hunting for the right solution. Enabling simple search box to find relevant results across all the content will improve the ease, convenience, and usage of existing service knowledge.
2) Index full content to deliver faster results
It is critical that Knowledge system indexes the full content of various documents to search using free-form and natural text. Leveraging a powerful search engine makes it easy to search all the content rather than just keywords or titles of documents. Technicians will find the results lot faster using the problem descriptions, service terminology, and error codes they use.
3) Rank the results by relevancy to improve search results
Ability to sort results not only based on a better match to search terms, but also including previous access, feedback, and other factors make the results more relevant. Search results can be further improved by using contextual knowledge of the product and the service job.
4) Mobilize Knowledge access
Technicians are more likely to access the information in the field using their mobile phones, and all knowledge should be accessible and presented to deliver an optimal experience on these devices. The required documents also should be accessible offline at the customer sites as service technicians are sometimes required to work in environments where there may not have data connectivity via WiFi or Mobile data.
5) Centralize knowledgebase in Cloud
Even if different teams create the content, having a centralized repository to publish the content makes it more effective to manage, maintain, and share the content. Data Silos, fragmented content, and disparate applications cost more and degrade the user experience. With cost-effective and secure cloud storage, field service organizations can keep the information consistent, up-to-date, and available in real time around the clock.
6) Globalize Knowledge
As companies become more global, the customers are expecting consistent service experience across all regions and countries in their language of choice. Knowledge system needs to support multi-language content and searches with integrated translation workflows.
7) Streamline knowledge authoring
Having manuals with hundreds of pages in PDF format makes it difficult to access the content while at a customer site. Authoring knowledge articles on focused topics with smaller page size makes it easier and faster to find the solutions.
Using the community sites and the content from support cases, service work orders, and warranty claims can help identify the relevant topics to focus on. You can invite and incentivize the experienced technicians to participate in knowledge sharing to uncover the implicit knowledge and make it available for all.
Having the knowledge engineers to author these articles quickly to build the knowledge base will make the users coming back to you to find answers rather than go to unreliable third-party sources.
8) Integrate Knowledge into all Support and Service Processes
In addition to being a standalone application, knowledge should be easily accessible from any of the customer support and service applications. Having a simple Knowledge API and search panels that can be embedded or integrated will eliminate redundant data entry and provide the ability to deliver solutions to all users proactively.
9) Enrich Knowledge content
You can enrich the knowledge with more Videos, interactive schematics, and 3D parts catalogs to help technicians to resolve problems lot faster. The right knowledge architecture can future- proof the solution by supporting the ability to use Augmented Reality(AR), Video chats, and Bots to leverage the emerging channels to deliver the knowledge.
10) Track and Analyze the usage and feedback
By using a centralized knowledge management system will enable you to track and analyze the search terms being used, the access frequency of knowledge topics, and user feedback to continuously improve the content and search results.
Immediate and Tangible Return on Investment
Companies realize immediate and tangible Return on Investment (ROI) from Knowledge Management initiatives in Field Service. ROI can be realized from:
- Increased technician productivity and utilization
- Reduced calls to technical support center
- Fewer secondary service visits
- Reduced cost of Warranty and Service Contracts
- Reduced maintenance and IT costs for multiple custom applications
Google’s mission was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” The mission of your service knowledge management could be “to make the service knowledge easily accessible and available to all technicians and customers.” This mission is easily achievable with cloud-based and mobile knowledge applications.