Does your field service business need a customer portal? Yes, says Jenna Puckett, associate technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice.
Great field service management is the backbone of many businesses but in an increasingly connected and impatient world, it’s becoming harder to delight customers.
Consumers expect visibility and control when they interact with businesses, particularly when field service is involved. After all, in an age when customers can track the status of their pizza delivery from their smartphone, they expect to know when a technician will arrive at their home and how long they’ll be there.
Service companies must keep up with tech-savvy consumers in order to meet their ever changing demands.
Since FSM software varies greatly from vendor to vendor, it’s difficult to pinpoint which functionality can help your business the most. To many businesses, a customer portal may seem extraneous. But companies can experience myriad benefits by putting everything at the customer’s fingertips.
Let’s examine why this FSM software feature is not just an extra but a necessity.
- Increase customer satisfaction
Successful field service management operations play a critical role in customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customer portals can help increase customer satisfaction.
- Add convenience
A self-service portal allows customers to manage their account with your company. By logging into your website, consumers can perform a variety of tasks, such as:
- Request service and schedule appointments 24/7
- Track repairs, as well as appointment details and status
- Send messages directly to a technician
- Review their service history
- Find maintenance tips
- Learn about product upgrades
- View account info and manage payments
- Get support for sales and product questionsPlace your list items here
As traditional business hours become increasingly inopportune for communications, a self-service portal provides added convenience for customers. In fact, a CSG International study revealed that 86 percent of consumers would pay a premium off up to $25 for enhanced scheduling options, including the ability to choose a specific technician arrival time. By allowing customers to choose a time that fits their preferences you can distinguish your service from competitors.
- Provide transparency
Many customers have trouble staying apprised of FSM job details such as technician whereabouts. Providing consumers with a three to four hour arrival time window is becoming less and less acceptable.The same CSG study found that an overwhelming 89 percent of respondents prefer a tool that provides technician location and continually updated estimated arrival times. Over 70 percent also wanted the ability to see the technician’s name and photo. A portal that allows customers to see their technician can build trust and provide transparency into your operations. And if technicians are running late, a courtesy call, email, or mobile alert shows your customers that you value their time.
A portal that allows customers to see their technician can build trust.
- Reduce confusion
TechnologyAdvice’s recent field service customer satisfaction survey revealed 23 percent of respondents that had to pay for a visit were not told the amount during the visit. This can lead to confusion and frustration among consumers, who may feel inadequately informed or purposefully kept in the dark.To eliminate this confusion, businesses should focus on providing customers with any costs upfront through an online portal, or at least giving technicians access to back-office systems and customer account information. This avoids any surprise over the final amount due.
- Improve resource allocation
In addition to increasing customer satisfaction, a self-service portal can also help improve your business’s resource allocation. When a consumer request service or schedules an appointment, they fill out all the details online, which outlines the necessary skills and equipment for the job. These details can be used to determine the best technician for an onsite visit. Additionally, when customers choose their own appointment time, this information can be used to automatically schedule the rest of the technician’s route.
- Reduce costs
Best in class organizations are more likely than their peers to provide customers with the ability to accomplish the following via self-service portals:
- Create service tickets
- Order service parts
- Reschedule technician visit
- Leave post-session feedback
customers are able to track the job each step of the way.
- Boost revenue
Customer portals aren’t just for customers. By providing online access to account information, field service business can communicate with customers in new ways. A self-service portal also opens the door for marketing strategies that can increase the bottom line. For example, in addition to bill pay and service help, FSM companies can use a customer portal to automatically alert consumers. These notifications are an opportunity to upsell through product upgrades and cross-selling.
- Manage expectations
The proliferation of the Internet means consumers expect a modern service experience. Simply sending an email is no longer enough. Customers want to login to their account, troubleshoot their own issues, view their warranty, review past services, and read about similar issues in a community forum. Supporting this journey leaves your customers feeling empowered. If they still require help, they can request, schedule, and track the entire process from the same place.Self-service portals benefit both customers and your business. FSM businesses should focus on customer communication preferences and providing visibility into relevant job information, including cost, procedures, and technician status. It’s getting increasingly difficult to meet customer expectations and outperform the competition. By helping customers help themselves, a self-service portal can be your secret weapon.
Above all else, a customer portal is a way to set up customer expectations.