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What do UK consumers expect from their field service providers?

Jun 28 • Features, Management • 3691 Views • 1 Comment on What do UK consumers expect from their field service providers?

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Operating a successful field service operation today is a challenging experience. A study recently commissioned by Trimble revealed the main factors UK consumers look for when selecting a field service provider, their expectations and biggest frustrations. John Cameron, General Manager Trimble Field Service Management explains more…

The findings were extremely insightful, revealing that today’s consumers typically expect more and are not shy of complaining, leading field service companies to have to look at new ways to balance service excellence with cost.

Consumers say fix it the first time

Getting a problem fixed on a first visit is the biggest expectation for UK consumers. Indeed, in Trimble’s study, which surveyed 2000 British adults, over half (52 per cent) considered fixing the problem on the first visit to be the most important factor in determining their satisfaction.

40 per cent of UK consumers complain that their technician did not have the appropriate tools or parts to fix the problem on a first visit

However, field service organisations are struggling to fully achieve this as nearly one in four UK consumers report that a return visit is required. Poor inventory and an inexperienced workforce are the most common reasons for this. 40 per cent of UK consumers complain that their technician did not have the appropriate tools or parts to fix the problem on a first visit whilst 27 per cent said that the technician lacked the skills to complete the job.

Problems such as this often transpire for field service organisations that schedule daily tasks based on a technician’s allocated territory. However, it is more effective to select the most knowledgeable technician, or one who has the right tools and parts in their vehicle. Adopting intelligent scheduling engines is therefore crucial as they incorporate technician knowledge, parts availability and capacity into the scheduling process to ensure that the technician arriving on site is actually the person who can resolve the customer issue on the first visit.

Short appointment windows a key factor in customer choice

Today’s consumers increasingly expect field service businesses to provide more convenient appointment options to accommodate their busy schedules. However it is apparent that consumers are failing to receive this, as long appointment windows and wait times are considered to be one of the nation’s biggest frustrations with using a field service provider.

In Trimble’s survey, more than 50 per cent considered 1-3 hours to be an acceptable appointment window, yet 36 per cent report experiencing wait times of far longer, in some cases up to eight hours.

By coupling an intelligent scheduling engine with a self-learner tool, field service businesses can look to improve service delivery times through enhanced schedule accuracy, improved productivity and workforce utilisation. The software tool uses a unique algorithm to learn preferences for each technician and will allocate tasks accordingly. This includes which mobile workers normally service particular areas and what skills technicians have and to what degree they are qualified to do certain types of work. The first step to managing productivity requires field service managers to get the right people with the right skills with the right assets to the right place within a set time, and a self-learner tool significantly helps in achieving this.

Price and customer service equally as important

When selecting a field service provider, customer service and price were revealed as being equally as important to UK consumers. Field service organisations must therefore look to balance these if they are to achieve customer satisfaction, retention and profitability.

Over half of UK consumers (55 per cent) said they would refuse to use a service provider again if they were delivered a poor customer experience

Over half of UK consumers (55 per cent) said they would refuse to use a service provider again if they were delivered a poor customer experience and with today’s consumers increasingly tech-savvy, it is very easy for them to complain to the masses. If left unhappy, half of consumers would complain formally to the company, 1 in 5 would complain to their technician and 1 in 10 consumers would take to social media to air their woes.

Consumers also find lack of communication with a company or service technician prior to arrival to be a major problem and consider being kept up to date on the day about arrival to be the most important factor when selecting a service provider. It is no longer acceptable to say anytime during the day. In fact almost half of consumers have to take annual, sick or unpaid leave to wait for delivery and service.

Field service businesses have a real opportunity to leapfrog the competition by providing excellent service to every customer and technology is available today that can help them to achieve this. The key is making and keeping commitments and then ensuring the customer is informed along the way.

To achieve this, more and more organisations are integrating their work management capabilities into mobile applications, which they can then offer to their technicians to allow them to share, store and view job data while out in the field, offering them a virtual link to the back office that helps to inform and empower them.

The range of information offered through a mobile application can include previous work history of jobs and upcoming work details. For example, if a technician is en-route to a customer, a quick look at service history on a mobile phone can inform them that the customer has complained multiple times to the helpdesk about a product/equipment failure.

This is vital information that can help the technician approach the customer with more care, helping to maintain a good customer service. Furthermore, when a technician reviews and accepts a job within a mobile application, the mobile device’s navigation tool can help them find the most efficient route. The technician can then pull up the customer’s details and call them to confirm when they will be arriving on-site.

The power of technology

To conclude, Trimble’s latest research looking into consumer’s biggest expectations and frustrations with field service providers ultimately suggests that success is achieved by managing productivity and ensuring field service managers get the right people, with the right skills with the right assets to the right place within a set time, whilst keeping the customer informed along the way. Having the appropriate technology in place to achieve this is therefore essential and key to helping businesses meet customer expectations and maintain ongoing brand recognition.

Trimble’s independent study was conducted by OnePoll, a worldwide market research agency. For a summary of the report, visit: http://ow.ly/MdyUU

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One Response to What do UK consumers expect from their field service providers?

  1. chrisdunnconsulting@btconnect.com' Chris Dunn says:

    Thanks for your excellent article John. Survey after survey makes it clear that customers value service providers that “fix it right first time”. The conundrum that you rightly highlight in your article is that delivering this key customer requirement tends to drive up operational cost.

    The way out of this dilemma is to increase service efficiency which not only augments customer satisfaction but also reduces operational cost. Your article points to the adoption of mobile technology as a way of improving field force productivity and providing greater convenience for consumers in the form of timed appointments and real time scheduling.

    Finally, thanks for providing a link to download the Trimble survey. Very useful indeed!

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