Written by 6:00 am Service Strategy

The field service team: the power to drive customer service forward

What is the value of a customer relationship? Is it worth it to over-deliver on SLAs just to keep a paying client? What role does field service have in keeping customers happy? Aly Pinder, senior research analyst analyst, Service Management, Aberdeen Group,  shares his views.

These are all questions which have put a microscope on service technicians and field engineers. Historically, the field service team was solely looked to in order to show up on time based on a 4-8 hour service window and fix a failure. But in this age of empowered customers, the field service team is expected to deliver real value to each customer interaction (while also, of course, fixing the failure).

But with this demand for increased value comes the opportunity to find new products and services that customers need and want to buy. As seen in Aberdeen’s Service Revenue: Unearth an Untapped Stream of Dollars research, eight out of ten top performers (81%) were able to attain their service revenue goals in 2014 and they also cultivate an environment of innovation for their service offerings to meet the needs of their customers. But how did these service organizations and manufacturers achieve these results? Did the money just fall from the trees? Of course not, these companies helped the field team excel at service and wow their customers into new opportunities.

The path to this level of engagement is outlined below and should be the centerpiece of any strategy to drive profitability from the field:

  • The carrot is often more successful than the stick in business. Incentives, if targeted the right way, have the ability to drive the behaviors which can transform an organization.This is true for the field team. If your organization only monitors or incents doing more jobs as quickly as possible, your technicians will neglect aspects of the service experience which could prove valuable to customers. Savvy service leaders implement incentives and performance goals which tackle both short-term operational objectives and long-term relationship goals like profitability, revenue, and customer satisfaction.
  • Give the sales team a view into the field. The sales team has a difficult job (and no, I am not pandering to the sales executives out there). They “always must be closing” new business. And one of their top challenges is having enough leads to close. This is where the field service team can help out. Service technicians are in front of customers every day, they’re in front of the equipment on site, and they even have access to the competition’s assets. But in order to connect customer insight with the sales team, the field needs the mobile tools AND the training to pass along the right information. Technicians need to ask the right questions while on site with customers and have their eyes / ears open to gaps in the current products and services being used. Passing these leads on to sales can drive the top line for the entire organization.
  • Don’t give service away for free. Too often organizations send technicians out to customers to service equipment and assets which are no longer under warranty or within a service contract. This is a missed opportunity. Top performing organizations ensure their service team delivers service which is being paid for. And when contracts expire or are close to, technicians don’t have to refuse service but they will have the knowledge to give the customer a small nudge reminding them their bill is due.

The field service team has a special place in the hearts and minds of customers. Technicians show up when there is a problem (or before), fix it, and leave with a smile. But this relationship has the opportunity to garner insights that can turn into new revenue opportunities.

I don’t think technicians should be salespeople, but they understand customers, equipment, and assets. And this insight makes them invaluable in finding the next dollar while ensuring customers remain happy.