With customer satisfaction now the top metric in defining field service success, the future of service and service revenue generation is in preparing the service organisation to have the right conversations with customers before, during, and after a service visit, says Aly Pinder, senior research analyst analyst, Service Management, Aberdeen Group.
Field service has long been a task oriented function of the organisation. Receive a customer call, schedule a technician, dispatch the tech, route the tech to the customer site, fix the problem, and then move on to the next job. Granted this is rudimentary recap of what happens, but I hope the picture is clear. A customer with a failed asset or piece of equipment, would then need the service organisation to reactively send a technician out to solve the problem with the goal of having technicians complete as many jobs as possible in a given day.
This model has been effective for quite a while, but a shift is occurring in field service. Aberdeen’s State of Service Management 2015: Connect to Your Customers (March 2015) research highlighted that the top metric defining success in service is customer satisfaction, not operational efficiency or cost containment. Furthermore, increased competition in service and heightened customer expectations demand the field service organisation enhance customer value. Unfortunately, too many organisations still view service and field technicians as reactive, fix it resources as opposed to agents building customer value and revenue opportunities. Top performers ensure they equip technicians with the support and tools to do both.
Service revenue opportunities cannot come at the cost of quality service.
Aberdeen’s recent Service Revenue: Unearth an Untapped Stream of Dollars report (May 2015), highlighted top performers are 56% more likely than peers to have met their service revenue growth goals in the previous 12 months. But does this mean organisations should turn technicians into field sales people? Do technicians have the acumen to be motivated by commission? I think these are the wrong questions. The future of service and service revenue generation is in preparing the service organisation to have the right conversations with customers before, during, and after a service visit.
- Before the service call, provide the dispatch team with insight in regard to in-warranty or under service contract customer issues. The back office should have access to customer history, equipment information, and contract and warranty insight. The dispatch team must review warranty entitlements and service contracts before scheduling a service job. Before a work order has been issued is the best time to discuss with a customer the work that needs to be done, what is covered, and how additional services can be added if desired. This proactive conversation will not only avoid sending a technician out who must complete uncovered service, but also provides an opportunity to renew a service contract.
Technicians are heroes, they want to solve problems and make customers happy.
- During the service call, make sure techs know if service is being given away for free. There are times when a service organisation is OK with giving service away for free. There will be errors made or opportunities to take a short-term loss in lieu of cementing a longer term profitable customer partnership. The problem is when technicians have zero visibility into the contract or warranty status of equipment during every service call. Technicians do not want to be the bad guy / lady who denies service because a service contract has expired. Technicians are heroes, they want to solve problems and make customers happy. For this reason, it is imperative that technicians have real-time access to customer information (i.e., warranty status, repair history). This insight doesn’t only help avoid delivering “free service”, it empowers technicians to have better conversations with customers while on site.
- After the service call, help move from resolution to a sales engagement. Mobile technology empowers the field service team to not only document and close a work order, but also to create future sales opportunities. Leading organisations have incentivised technicians to be the eyes and ears of the sales function to unearth future prospects for cross- and up-sell opportunities. The key is to ensure technicians prioritise solving the customer issue and not future sales. Technicians have to remain trusted customer partners; once they are viewed as sales people they will lose the trust of the customer.
Service revenue opportunities cannot come at the cost of quality service. These two goals must be complimentary. Top performing organisations equip the entire service team with the insight to make revenue generating decisions in real-time. But these companies understand the viability of the organisation demands that customers continue to value the service being provided.
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