Customer experience. It’s the key to any successful business, and that’s not changing anytime soon. Putting the customer first and providing seamless service are table stakes across industries, but nowhere are they more prevalent than among businesses with field service organizations. Customers depend on the men and women who service their machines — from HVACs to oil rigs — to keep their homes, jobs, and communities running. Delays in service can result in frustration so great it can devastate your bottom line.
So, what’s a field service team to do? Luckily, technology is evolving every day with customers as the focus. As industries and field service organizations transform and embrace a more technologically connected future, field service organizations are poised to deliver outstanding customer experience in innovative ways. Here are three approaches that you can adapt to enhance your company’s field service experience.
Be proactive with service delivery
Field service organizations were once pen-and-paper operations. They were reactive, and often slow. The companies that were quickest to get on the proactive trend thrived, and years later we see that the demand for responsive, painless service hasn’t changed at all.
What has changed? Service organizations’ ability to offer proactive service. Realizing the potential for the Internet of Things to transform their business, field service providers can now monitor their equipment and collect better data to predict and prevent failures. In other words, they can eliminate issues before a customer even thinks to ask. As a result, better technology and proactive service have ushered in a new industry standard for efficiency and productivity, saving customers precious costs and time.
Take, for example medical device company Elekta, responsible for radiation machines and medical equipment in hospitals across the country. The danger of an outage is massive in this industry — it could be the difference between life and death. So, Elekta orchestrated a proactive service model, monitoring data streaming in from its connected devices to discover patterns, anticipate outages, and, ultimately, lower downtime.
Focus on the outcome
Stemming from this transition towards proactive service is a novel focus on what we call outcomes-based service. In this model, manufacturers sell a business outcome rather than simply a product that includes service. It makes sense — a company doesn’t buy wind turbines because they make for beautiful landscapes (though, many would argue they do!). They invest in the equipment because they want to use the energy that it generates. They invest in the outcomes.
By aligning service delivery with signals and data around how well the system is performing, technicians can be on hand to proactively service the wind turbines before they break down, and ensure that there is no down period for what their customer ultimately wants: energy. When technicians focus on the outcome, their customers are less likely to face the frustration and loss of business that would otherwise result from their machines breaking down and their outcomes being delayed. The result of this shift in strategy for field service teams is that the customer relationship is strengthened, and everyone wins.
Remember to be human
Technology is evolving and transforming field service for the better. But when it comes to building lasting customer relationships, data will never replace human-to-human interactions. For field service organizations, the technician is the first point of contact between the customer and the brand. The best, most proactive service should fade into the background — the more seamless the experience, the more invisible it is to the customer because it’s so painless.
Field service has never lost this human touch, and no amount of technology — be it mobile apps, AI, or automated data collection — will ever replace the human connection and trust on which this industry is built. At their core, field service teams are human teams. These are the relationships that grow and scale a business, and these are the faces that will continue delivering outstanding customer experiences into the future.
About the Author
Patrice Eberline is Vice President of Global Customer Transformation at ServiceMax, from GE Digital, where she uses her years of service delivery experience working with prospects and customers to fully leverage the value of ServiceMax to their field service organizations. Previously, Patrice was with SuccessFactors, serving as Global Director of SMB Professional Services, as well as SuccessFactors University. Prior to SuccessFactors, she was VP of Professional Services at Infor, where she led a global staff of consultants across four discrete Corporate Performance Management practices and hosted operations.