Sometimes you can’t wait for customers to come to you. Field service and mobile technology are two of the most significant trends in business and development in each go hand-in-hand.
For traditional field service groups, like trucking companies and sales teams, administration has become even more complex as sales cycles shorten and customer expectations change.
For businesses in other sectors new to field service, such as healthcare and grocery delivery, new mobile technology can help, but implementing proven best practices is key. Research by Oracle found that a combination of best practices with field service management software brings back an average of 50% more jobs/day and with customer satisfaction ratings hovering at 98%.
Don’t leave your field service team out in the cold. Use the following techniques to wow your customers and bring home a better experience overall.
1. Offer real-time updates
In the old days, cable installers or appliance trouble-shooters would block out a 5-hour window when they might arrive at the customer’s house. When they arrived at their destinations, truckers would have to just park and wait at the dock for someone to verify delivery.
Nobody has time for that now. Forrester reported that 73% of customers say that “valuing my time” is the most important action a company can take to assure their loyalty. Consumer apps tied in to mobile GPS can tell you exactly where the driver is in real time. Customers can communicate with drivers by text or voice. That is a baseline expectation now and to earn a “field service of choice” designation, you have to stay current.
2. Combine advanced planning with flexibility
Keeping track of employee schedules was hard. Keeping track of independent contractor schedules is nearly impossible without some automation. The best stay busy, so a company needs a way to efficiently book and confirm the best contractors well in advance, even though customers want maximum flexibility to book as late as possible and make changes on the fly.
Download enterprise apps that integrate with contractor schedules and keep the lines of communication open even when your field service members are out for delivery.
3. Get It Right the First Time
The No. 1 biggest problem that customers have with field service, according to a ServiceMax survey, is that too many times a field rep arrives unprepared. They don’t know what the customer needs, they don’t understand the problem, or they don’t have the tools they need to finish the job right there. If your customers have to give up some of their highly valuable time for nothing, and then have to set up another meeting at the end of it all, you will probably not see those customers again.
Communication is the key here as well. Gather as much information as you can in the home office, but also make sure the field service rep has a direct line to the customer so they don’t show up unprepared and waste everyone’s time.
4. Follow Up After the Visit
In the world of business, follow through remains one of the most powerful, least practiced strategies for achieving excellence in customer experience. Follow up requires discipline, commitment, and the right technology to keep you on track.
Technology can pick up the slack in many ways but you have to learn how to deploy it effectively. It can mean sending the customer useful information, taking the action that was discussed on a call, reaching out to a customer referral, updating your CRM so customers don’t have to explain everything all over again, or asking about their experience so far.
For customers, a lack of follow up is frequently experienced as a broken promise.
5. Empower your field service reps
After studying leaders in field service, Gartner determined that they share a few distinct characteristics. At the top of that list is a top-down demand for mobile capabilities that not just inform but empower technicians in new ways. Instead of just mirroring the old processes of a paper-based work order function, they have redesigned the workflow around mobile capabilities.
The Art of Staying Connected
The right software and applications can take the pressure off field workers, allowing them to focus on getting the job done and not having to worry about the details. They stay connected to the back office even when out in the field, and their smartphone becomes a lifeline for support. Customers can get the answers they need quickly, too, and find all the information they need with a click or a phone call. Businesses winning at field services implement technology that helps customers, workers and the back office stay connected and informed, even when network coverage is spotty.
Equip your field service team with the best mobile technology and software to maximize the value of their time on the road. At the same time, you'll be providing customers with proof that they made the right choice when they called you.