White Paper: Meeting Customer Demand: Evaluation of the Top Three Customer Self-Service Technologies for Field Service
Resource Type: White Paper
Published by: mplsystems
Title: Meeting Customer Demand: Evaluation of the Top Three Customer Self-Service Technologies for Field Service
About: This white paper will explore the transitioning role of the customer in field service and how the proliferation and popularity of smartphone devices has created a demand for self-service technology in both B2B and B2C markets. It will discuss the different self-service technologies available and suggest how best to implement these solutions to ensure businesses are achieving a true end-to-end field service management solution.
Download: Download the white paper by clicking here
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 this type of 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
Current use of self-service technology
The customer’s ability to arrange service calls or get status updates with a company is an important element of how a service organisation is viewed by its customers.
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, especially with online self-service.
Taking Customer Self-Service Portals to the next level
As customers are given more visibility and control in other areas of business through online channels, they are expecting this control in all areas of life. Research carried out by US based consultancy, Software Advice, reported that whilst access to an online portal for self-service tasks such as scheduling and bill paying had the second-strongest positive impact on respondents’ likelihood to hire a field service company the data also indicated that an online portal could have the most negative impact in customers eyes.
It is clear that out of all the customer self-service technologies available, online portals are currently the most used within the industry
One of the main problems that is limiting self-service portals providing the tools the customer needs is the lack of integration with existing business technology such as scheduling systems and field service engineer’s mobile device technology. This means that whilst the portal may provide the customer with basic information such as billing, service requests or appointment booking, they are often unable to make payments through the app, amend or cancel appointments or have real-time updates of their service delivery without human interaction.
Web Chat and Messaging
In a recent interview, Nicola Millard, BT’s Head of Customer Insight and Futures, references how web chat is set to become the dominant customer contact channel of the future. She comments, “Firstly, web chat is an immediate channel, like the phone, you can have a conversation. Secondly, the ability to manage multiple chat sessions means that the economics of chat is positive, assuming the volume is there. Thirdly, chat can be blended with other channels for example email and social media.”
However, whilst this channel is already being successfully implemented across many industry sectors, the field service industry has been somewhat slower in the uptake of web chat. Field service organisations have traditionally struggled to unite two key elements – the technical expertise of their field-based engineers with the availability of their service desks. Not surprisingly, engineers are always busy – either travelling to a customer location or already engaged onsite.
However, as the 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.
Business Clients Mobile Apps
It is reported 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
Only 5% of organisations currently offer their customers mobile apps as a communication channel into the service desk. However, it is reported 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. Mobile apps are a key technology in field service, but this mostly focuses around apps for engineers who are out in the field and need access to information from the service desk. But if we are able to provide engineers with integrated apps and scheduling capabilities, then why not offer this to business clients as a simple, quick way to check service requests, book appointments or access billing capabilities?
Integration and Interaction
There has been much talk around integration of field service management solutions to create a true end-to-end approach to the customer life cycle allowing full visibility across different areas of the company. However, when adding new technologies, such as customer self-service, businesses often overlook the importance of fully integrating this new technology with existing business systems.
On many occasions, businesses will introduce a third party supplier and then face multiple problems when trying to get each system to speak to each other. In the 2014 Field Service Software research report, it was confirmed that over a fifth of businesses were working with five or more providers to implement their field service technology.