One of the most important trends that came out of field service this past year was the re-emphasis on customer service. We were curious about what customers had to say about their service software in 2014 and how things can continue to improve for 2015. We decided to team up with Software Advice, a company that researches field service technology, in order to go over their latest survey report where over 8,000 consumers of residential services were surveyed on how and what types of software could be better utilized by service organizations. One of their head researchers for this report, Justin Guinn, helped answer a few questions on what exactly they found from the report.
1. According to this survey, consumers believe 41% of residential service companies do an “average” job utilizing software in terms of customer experience. What do you think are the 3 most important components to look for in terms of an “above average” field service software for 2015?
The three most important components for “above average” software in 2015 will be more intuitive scheduling, dispatching & routing (which would enable technician tracking capabilities), more intuitive and mobile friendly customer portals, and seamless bill paying.
2. How can companies improve their customer facing technology in order to continue to please more mature generations as well as millennials?
The functionality of the technology needs to be easy to use and seamless across any device. For ease of use, typically when a customer is interacting with a field service company, they’ve already had one unexpected, negative and inconvenient experience by another company. The last thing they want is another poor experience with the company they’ve hired to remedy the original experience. You don’t want difficult-to-use technology creating a bad experience and deterring customers from future business.
For a seamless experience, online access no longer means laptop, so ensuring your customers and field technicians have mobile access is key. Even if it’s just to a mobilized webpage, if it’s where your customers are, it’s where your business needs to be.
3. How can an optimization component within field service software help improve service times and provide a better customer experience from start to finish?
Much like servers at a restaurant, if you’re able to optimize the back-end components, it frees up technicians and customer service reps to really do their jobs to the best of their abilities. Problems happen when software difficulties and other typically non-customer-facing issues leak into the forefront of customer interactions.
4. Why are companies slow to adopt field service software? What are some facts that can help persuade them that it’s the right move for their organization?
The saying, "It’s the way we’ve always done things," is a tough barrier to overcome -- however, it’s no excuse. So when your service customers begin questioning why you’re capabilities are nowhere near your competitions, what will you say?
Some facts to potentially help persuade those who are slow to adopt technology, would include the finding that 58 percent of respondents from our report said the use of technician tracking would have a positive impact on their likelihood to hire a company. Additionally, 35 percent said the use of an online portal would have a positive impact on their likelihood to hire a company. Those don’t even begin to explain the operational benefits of implementing some sort of software.
5. Will mobility continue to play a role in field service in 2015?
Mobility will continue playing an increased role in field services. A lot of software available today offers mobile functionality for communicating, tracking, completing work orders, and pulling documents in the field. There’re also a lot of innovative capabilities being built out that utilize mobile. For example, there’s software out there now that allows field technicians to send a live video back to their headquarters for advice on what to do. This is just one of the interesting concepts that will continue to be built out in field service in 2015.
6. Based on the survey and research, what do you suggest field service organizations do to be more prepared to meet demands of customers in 2015?
Moving forward in the new year, residential service companies must consider the positive benefits that can come from adopting customer-facing software; not just in terms of business operations and processes, but also as a means of gaining more customers. The forward thinking companies will see that the industry should be targeting customer pain points, and recognizing that we now have the technology to fix these headaches. A perfect example of this is utilizing GPS technology so customers can track where the technician is before they arrive at their home. With the proclivity of smart phones today, reducing the window of arrival can, and should be prioritized for the consumer. Some businesses have adopted this, and I expect to see that those who have will likely gain some of the market share over those who haven't. Apart from notifying customers about updated arrival times, tracking functionality can have numerous operational benefits as well that service providers should consider when finalizing their budgets for 2015.
Check out the full report by Software Advice and check in again soon for more field service tips.