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Putting the customer back in control with self-service technology

Mar 10 • Features, Software and Apps • 4289 Views • No Comments on Putting the customer back in control with self-service technology

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As self-service technology experiences rapid growth in industries such as retail and financial services, research reveals that the field service industry have been somewhat slower to adopt writes Paul White of mplsystems. 

Given that the role of the consumer has largely changed over recent years due to the consumerisation of technology, customers are now expecting to be able to have more visibility and control when it comes to interacting with a business.

The role of the consumer has largely changed over recent years due to the consumerisation of technology, customers are now expecting to be able to have more visibility and control when it comes to interacting with a business.

Within the field service industry there is a growing focus on improving communication between the service desk and field engineer teams.

However, businesses are slowly realising that technology can also be used to improve communications with clients, offering a low effort experience that not only increases visibility and loyalty but generates cost savings.

Research carried out by mplsystems and Field Service News reveals that the number of organisations implementing self-service technology for their customers is slowly growing, with 40% of organisations offering some element of self-service technology to their customers.

However, it is clear that although there is a trend for self-service arising in the industry, many online portals and self-service technologies are still very limited in functionality with only 6.7% of respondents providing their clients with total self-service functionality.

It is clear that customer self-service technology is starting to make an impact in the field service industry, however the functionality of these solutions are still quite restricted and often do not provide the customer with the control they require.

Businesses need to make sure, when implementing self-service technology that they are integrated with other key business systems. This will provide the customer with all the tools they need to be able to action, amend and view their service requests, profile and billing.”

Therefore the key to successfully implementing customer self-service portals it to ensure they integrate with existing systems such as ERP, scheduling and engineers mobile technology. Without this integration, customers are unable to access the information they need and often continue to use the service desk to perform updates, changes and requests.

The key to successfully implementing customer self-service portals it to ensure they integrate with existing systems such as ERP, scheduling and engineers mobile technology

The portal needs to be able to provide the customer with the same level of service as the over the telephone, otherwise, as recent research by Software Advice concludes, introducing an online portal can do more damage than benefit if implemented incorrectly.

It is suggested that, despite the current popularity of online self-service portals, mobile app technology will rapidly become one of the most popular self-service solutions in the industry.

Research suggests that over 50% of smartphone users chose apps over phoning a contact centre and this will continue to rise as the influence of generation Y and the proliferation and innovation of mobile devices continues. However, only 5% of organisations currently offer their customers mobile apps as a communication channel into the service desk.

Over 50% of smartphone users chose apps over phoning a contact centre and this will continue to rise as the influence of generation Y and the proliferation and innovation of mobile devices continues.

Nicola Millard, Head of Customer Insight and Futures at BT Technology, comments “It is predicted that by 2020 web chat and messaging via mobile devices will account for 40% of customer interaction with the service centre, whilst channels such as phone and email drop to 38% and 4%. Businesses need to prepare themselves for this channel transition by equipping themselves with the right technology.”

It is clear that the value of mobile app technology can be significantly increased when messaging capability is included. As traditional browser based web chat extends to messaging on mobile devices, it becomes possible to bring field engineers, the service desk and customers together in a virtual world, despite location or device.

When clients are speaking to a service desk agent and need further assistance, the agent can quickly open up a 3-way chat session with the appropriate expert or field service engineer from any location. Often client issues can be resolved in this way without the field service professional actually needing to visit the client site, proving cost effective and efficient for both the business and the customer.

After an award winning construction & property maintenance company implemented an integrated customer online portal, they experienced 100% business growth by being able to take on more business without having to increase resource and by providing differentiation when tendering for new business contracts.

The online portal now manages 75% of the businesses reactive job requests, significantly reducing the workload on the service desk whilst providing instant access for customers to report problems.

It is clear that the field service industry can gain many benefits from introducing self-service technology and with research suggesting that customers will continue to demand more control and visibility, implementing this solution is becoming essential to remain competitive.


To find out more about customer self-service in the industry download mplsystems white paper: “Meeting customer demand: Evaluation of the top 3 customer self-service technologies for field service.”

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