May 22, 2017

How Self-Service Improves Customer Success in Field Service

Written by
Manuel Grenacher
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Field service providers have to start seeing customers for who they have become: self-reliant individuals connected to an abundant source of knowledge who value convenience, speed, and control.

A positive field service experience for empowered customers is one that includes them in the entire process, from start to finish. The best way to achieve this is to offer self-service options. According to a report by Aberdeen, 55 percent of the best-in-class companies offer a customer portal to facilitate self-service.  

ALSO READ: How the IIOT is Changing Field Service

There are a variety of field service functions that can be resolved using self-service tools. When implemented, these tools provide for more successful customer integration and satisfaction. Here are a few ways that self-service improves customer success:

24/7 Service 

This can be in the form of an online form or perhaps even an online chat with chatbots. The idea is that the customer has the ability to report problems and issues round-the-clock and make appointments with a field service technician thanks to intelligent workflows. This kind of access helps the customer feel like their problem is in the process of being solved.

AI-Powered Schedulers

Field service call scheduling tools that rely on artificial intelligence (AI) have the capacity to quickly and accurately sift through information to determine the best appointments for field service technicians. Artificial intelligence can determine how best to consolidate appointments based on location and time needed for the service call as well as the necessary skill set.

Customer-Controlled Scheduling

Since customers are in complete control of the appointment selection, they are less likely to cancel at the last minute or be away when the technician arrives. That means fewer pointless field service trips and repeated visits for technicians.

Status Updates

Allowing customers to access regular updates on the status of their service call via mobile device keeps them in the loop and provides a sense of security that the issue is being addressed and resolved.

Access to Documentation

Knowledge is power. Giving customers access to device manuals and product guarantees on their personal devices not only helps maintain transparency, but also makes it easier for them to understand potential issues, explain them to field service technicians and, in some cases, perhaps solve them by themselves.

Real-time Evaluation

By making it possible for a customer to evaluate a field service call as soon as the work has been completed, field service providers gain valuable insight into the customer experience and can immediately instigate improvements. The customer also feels like a valuable contributor to the entire process.

This is where mobile devices become an integral part of the equation. By offering a one-stop, user-friendly app that incorporates all of these elements, customers can become a crucial component of the field service experience.

This is what a standard workflow might look like using self-service tools — the four S’s of satisfaction, so to speak:

  1. Scan: The customer scans a QR code or other identifier (RFID, NFC, BLE, iBeacon) on their device. The field service team receives a real-time alert about the issue as well as a history of the device including guarantees, manuals, and previous service calls. This is an instantaneous transmission of data that eliminates the unnecessary and annoying loss of valuable time.
  2. Select: The customer chooses the best appointment to suit his or her schedule from the various options offered by the artificial intelligence scheduler.  
  3. Status: From here on, every step of the process can be tracked using an app. This includes real-time data about the field service technician’s location and arrival time, the work being done, and when the work is completed.
  4. Survey: Now that the job is finished, the customer, prompted by a survey of questions, can offer feedback. And the field service managers can get to work optimizing and refining the entire process.

The central aim of field service is to satisfy your customers. Happy customers are loyal, and they generate additional revenue through referrals and repeat business. Field service providers should prioritize the customer/company relationship by getting customers involved and maintaining consistent communication. Yes, field service is designed to solve problems, but how you get the job done matters. If your customers feel integral to your business, your business will remain integral to them.

Manuel Grenacher is CEO of Coresystems, a leading provider of mobile and cloud-based field service and workforce management software for field service organizations of all types and sizes.

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