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Using social media as part of your customer service strategy in field service

Oct 22 • Features, Management • 2723 Views • No Comments on Using social media as part of your customer service strategy in field service

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Social media is no longer a simple channel for marketing your products and services it is now very much a recognised and legitmate communication channel for businesses to connect with their customers. John Cameron, General Manager of Trimble Field Service Management explores how and why field service companies should be using social media as part of their customer service strategies…

Over the past few years, the rise of social media platforms has provided consumers with more power than ever and many now take to the mass audiences of Facebook and Twitter to share their opinions on a company’s product or customer service performance. Indeed, the Institute of Customer Service report that there are 38 million active social media profiles in the UK and 1 in 5 social media users have admitted to using a social media channel to communicate with or comment on an organisation.

The increase in online communication has helped to fuel a rise in expectations for service excellence, with consumers increasingly expecting their field service provider to listen to and engage with them immediately over social media or risk damaging their brand reputation.

The increase in online communication has helped to fuel a rise in expectations for service excellence, with consumers increasingly expecting their field service provider to listen to and engage with them immediately over social media or risk damaging their brand reputation.

For organisations operating a field service operation, customer service is widely recognised as being the number one business priority with a proven link between customer satisfaction, retention and profitability. In order to meet customer expectations, the need for businesses to include social media as part of their customer service strategies is therefore becoming increasingly essential. Organisations are justified in approaching their social media strategy with some caution, however. Numerous high-profile cases have shown that the public nature of social media can bring risks to corporate reputation, if not managed appropriately and consistently as part of a coherent communications strategy.

The strategic importance of social media

A study recently commissioned by Trimble found that 51% of field service organisations think social media is an effective tool for helping them to manage customer relationships. However, its function is still misunderstood by a number of field service organisations whilst others aren’t as convinced of the potential upside of an online communications program.

The study revealed that 28% of organisations did not know if social media could be an effective tool for helping them to manage customer relationships whilst 21% regarded it to be ineffective. A major reason behind the conflict in opinion lies in how exactly field service organisations leverage social media as part of an online customer service strategy, as there are more effective ways than others to use it for business success.

Using social media for success

The Institute of Customer Service confirms that social media presents a great opportunity for organisations to listen to and engage with their customers on a one-to-one level, but organisations must ensure that they can manage and measure customer interactions seamlessly across a multitude of channels, as customers now expect to be able to communicate with field service organisations through a variety of social media sites of their choosing.

Whilst some organisations are doing a good job at leveraging social media; others are underestimating it and applying the old school approach of ‘marketing at’ customers instead of engaging in conversations that will enhance relationships with them. In order to influence how an organisation is seen by its customers in the social sphere, it must participate in conversations.

An Aberdeen Group report similarly found that 56% of top performing field service organisations are more likely to proactively capture feedback from customers regarding their performance as compared to peers.

Leveraging customer feedback via social media is also key to a successful online customer service strategy. The Trimble study revealed that 42% of field service organisations use the feedback they receive on social media to improve operations and customer service strategies. An Aberdeen Group report similarly found that 56% of top performing field service organisations are more likely to proactively capture feedback from customers regarding their performance as compared to peers. However, the research also found that nearly 15% of field service organisations don’t know what percentage of requests originate in the social sphere as they aren’t monitoring or engaging in support conversations on social media.

By not capturing customer feedback, organisations are missing out on the chance to obtain data on the volume, key topics or general sentiment of the content generated by their customers, which could then be leveraged internally to improve relationships with them through enhancing product quality and developing new offerings to meet their needs and expectations.

Social media and the new skills age

The landscape of customer service has shifted in recent years from a transactional economy to a relationship economy where value lies in one-to-one interactions. According to Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, “A ‘personalised service for many’ and a dialogue approach, as opposed to the traditional monologue, is now desired. This power shift has come about, partly due to customers wanting to be more engaged in the customer experience but also because of technology and the rise of social media.”

Trimble’s survey found that 35% of field service organisations believe social media use amongst consumers has influenced the need to train, or hire, field technicians with the desirable attributes to deliver a service which meets customers’ expectations.

Indeed, the open platform for communication that social media provides has empowered consumers more than they have ever been to share their customer experience with a field service provider. We are ultimately living in an age where customer service is incredibly important and there has been a big shift within the industry of employing service technicians based on their people skills, over their technical skills.

Trimble’s survey found that 35% of field service organisations believe social media use amongst consumers has influenced the need to train, or hire, field technicians with the desirable attributes to deliver a service which meets customers’ expectations.

Demand for staff who have desirable attitudes and attributes for customer service will therefore increase. In particular, there will be a stronger focus on the importance of being empathetic and emotionally intelligent alongside being methodical and patient to deal with the wide variety of customer service relationships and interactions.

For more key findings, expert third party opinion and real-life business experiences on how field service organisations are leveraging social media as part of their customer service strategies download our latest report here: http://ow.ly/TcCO9

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