As we continue our serialisation of the 40-page eBook The Service Manager Handbook published by Advanced Field Services we now look at what obstacles you must overcome and what plans you must put in place if you are to achieve service excellence.
Download the full 40 page ebook for free by simply clicking here and completing the brief registration form
It’s a given that the customer is your number one priority. Typically, service is affected by a combination of factors that result in the customer not getting what they want, when they want it.
However, there are crucial failures we see in many companies that can hamper them from even beginning to build a coherent strategy for achieving service excellence. These can of course vary from company to company but some of the most regular culprits in blocking a customer service strategy from ever becoming more than a tick box exercise include:
- A lack of integrated, real-time communication between the field engineer and the customer service representative – your engineers are the gateway to your customers, they are the ones who can make or break even the largest of commercial relationships. As such, give them both the tools and the training in order to not only just do their job but to do it brilliantly to ensure your customers remain loyal with you for the long term
- Poor visibility of current stock levels across multiple systems and manual entry – you can have the best engineers in the world, they can be experts in their field and fantastic customer service folks as well. However, if they can’t access the right part for the right job, right away, even they are going to struggle to keep your customers happy as they see their downtime escalating due to your company’s inefficiencies.
- Time-consuming manual processes hindered by unnecessary paperwork make it difficult to respond with agility to customer requirements. Nobody likes red-tape, your customers hate it, your engineers loathe it – they just want to get on and fix things, and in today’s age of mobile computing, endless paper work is simply unnecessary and a waste of your engineers’ valuable time.
- At the same time your engineers should also have all of the tools they need at their fingertips both to do their jobs as effectively as possible but also to keep your customers informed throughout any repair.
- Field service engineers without the ability to quickly see and advise customers in advance that a part may be delayed, or without the ability to order a part quickly and easily themselves whilst on site are likely to face an uphill struggle in today’s business environment.
However, whilst problems like the above can grow to become significant issues for some organisations, the good news is that the technology is in place to help support your business, allowing you to avoid such issues and firmly become part of your clients’ on-going business operations.
Here are six steps we believe are crucial to field service management in today’s market…
Keep the lines of communication open
Whether you operate in the B2B or consumer/domestic markets, you’ll need to consistently meet basic criteria, such as responding within a set timeframe or appointment window.
A field service solution helps you to deploy your engineers with maximum efficiency and equip them to do a proficient job.
Technology gives you the option to send the engineer’s estimated time of arrival – and alerts on any unexpected hold-ups – by SMS or email to the customer. They are more likely to tolerate a delay if they know the reasons why, along with the new ETA.
Capture live data onsite
The information your engineers enter remotely through their mobile devices should automatically feedback to your control centre and back-office reporting and billing systems.
Customers can be sent up-to-date compliance certification within minutes of job completion. Sending an invoice promptly while the job is still fresh in the customer’s mind will also avoid queries and delays further down the line. While not strictly speaking a customer service issue, having fast efficient billing processes reinforces your image as a professional service provider and helps speed up payments and improve cash flow.
Collect and analyse customer feedback
Without bombarding customers with survey requests, you can collect their feedback using standard forms on the engineer’s mobile device or schedule a survey to be emailed to them after the job is complete.
You’re showing you value their views and it’s an opportunity to capture valuable insight into your customers’ thinking and identify possible opportunities to upsell the contract and services, where appropriate.
Create a unified, shared view of the customer
A customer relationship management (CRM) solution, integrated with your service management software, will capture and share information across your whole business, giving managers access to critical information at all times while managing your sales pipeline and opportunities.
You’ll gather intelligence on your customers during the course of doing business with them. This will enable you to offer better service while providing your teams with organisational knowledge, information and the expertise to make complementary sales where appropriate.
“Due to circumstances beyond our control…”
Timely, consistent service delivery is essential. If anything impedes this, capturing data on the spot with time-stamped photos will protect you from becoming open to penalties and demands for refunds.
Improve service with self-service through a web-based customer portal
Many service organisations now approach many of their major clients as strategic partners, working in collaboration with them to build a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership.
A customer portal gives authorised representatives in the customer’s organisation the ability to create jobs, view their service history, access contract agreements and run interactive reports on their KPIs.
This type of self-service access will ensure your clients are kept firmly in the loop, cementing your status as a preferred service partner without adding to the workload of your service administrators. In fact, you free your call-handling and back-office staff to focus on the queries, issues and exceptions that genuinely need their skills and experience.