This article first appeared in the May 27, 2019 edition of Field Service News
It seems that customer experience is the number one metric that Field Service Organisations are seeking to improve in today’s business environment, but it is an uphill task if your field service technicians don’t have access to the key details of each and every job to hand as they arrive on your customer’s site. The answer writes Michael Blumberg is investment...
Customer Experience is the single most important factor in driving customer loyalty and retention. In fact, market research studies show that it costs five times as much to attract as new customer as it does to keep an existing customer satisfied. Repeat customers also spend on average, 67% more than then one-time buyers.
Furthermore, just a 5% increase in retention can yield profit increases in the range of 25% to 95%. Let’s face it, the customer experience does not end once customers make a purchase. It is just beginning. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) not only have a responsibility to keep their customers satisfied through-out their buying journey and ownership lifecycle. They also have an opportunity to strengthen their relationship with customers and create more value for them by providing quality, aftermarket services.
There are many factors that influence Customer Experience when it comes to field service. The two most important factors by far are speed of service resolution and first time fix rate. A service provider can excel in every other area of consideration. For example, courtesy of service personnel, ease of doing business, accuracy of billing, experience and knowledge, etc.
However, if takes too long for the FSE to resolve the problem or if the Field Service Engineer (FSE) needs to return because they didn’t fix the problem right the first time, the customer will be unhappy. If this remains a persistent problem, Customer loyalty and retention will suffer.
To prevent this problem from occurring, Field Service Organizations (FSOs) must be aware the bottlenecks, or, barriers, which prevent their FSEs from providing excellent speed of service and first time fix rates. For example, technicians may have:
- Insufficient knowledge to address the issue at hand: For example, they may lack the skills to solve the problem right the first which can result in either a repeat visit or the need to dispatch a different FSE to the customer site, thus extending the length of the downtime.
- Inaccurate or partial data about customers and/or products: FSEs must spend additional time onsite attempting to understand the customer’s problem when this type of situation occurs. Not only do run the risk of making inaccurate repairs when they rely on inaccurate or partial data, they also run the risk of impacting the quality of future repair if they do capture complete or accurate data.
- Inability to communicate effectively with remote experts: This can happen when the remote support expert is not able to understand or visualize the issue described by the FSE and/or when the FSE doesn’t understand the corrective action suggested by the remote experts.
- Inaccurate spare parts inventory - Service visits are closed incomplete or extended when this FSE doesn’t have the right part on hand.
- Non-existent audit trails to track previous service requests or warranty information - This means that FSEs lack the right information to properly troubleshoot, diagnose, and repair the problem. Not only does it increase the chance of a repeat service visits, it results in a situation where the FSO may not be meeting their contractual obligations or providing more service then the customer is entitled to; both have consequences.
Given that FSEs spend almost 1/3rd of their time at the customer site, OEMs must do anything they can to help FSEs avoid these bottlenecks. To ensure FSE optimize the customer experience, companies can turn to several solutions, including:
- Utilizing online forms to capturing critical service information
- Providing FSE with online access to Knowledge resources
- Improving parts availability through catalogs and inventory tracking apps
- Offering remote support to guide technicians to make better diagnostic and repair decisions
- Maximizing customer lifetime value through instant quotes and contracts
All these solutions are currently through commercially available, end-to-end field service management Solutions.
Benchmark research by Field Service Insights indicates that these types of solutions have a measurable impact on improving Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) related to field service. For example, companies who implement these solutions can increase FSE utilization and calls completed per day by 25% and 30% and reduce service resolution time and calls requiring second level support by 56% and 64%, respectively.
These improvements validate the tremendous impact that field service applications, such as those described above, have on enabling FSEs to deliver a better Customer Experience.