A visit from a field service technician isn’t typically something that a customer looks forward to. It has historically involved a pre-arranged appointment during an inopportune and large window of time, which requires re-arranging of schedules and a lot of sitting around and waiting. This creates a perfect storm of opportunity for customer dissatisfaction.
So how long will a customer wait for a field service technician before the appointment – and relationship – goes sour?
The length of time that a customer is prepared to wait, and how they feel about a company as a result of the service provided, depends on 3 factors.
- The value the customer places on the appointment. For example, most customers will wait several hours to have their internet connection or TV fixed, but are less willing to wait for a smart meter installation that may result in a higher utility bill.
- How well-informed they are kept about when the appointment will occur, as well as the ability to confirm, cancel, or reschedule that appointment.
- Previous interactions with a field service company. For example, a customer’s tolerance for waiting is affected by whether a previous appointment was accomplished early, on time, late, or was canceled.
Repairing the field service technician’s reputation through mobility
So what can be done to improve the field service technician’s reputation and improve customer experiences?
Measuring and predicting when an appointment will take place and making that information available to the customer are both extremely powerful in improving and growing customer satisfaction.
Advancements in smart devices, increased bandwidth, improvements in programming languages, and the advent of data-driven decisions have laid the foundations for today’s connected field service technician. Thanks to this revolution in cloud-based technology and mobility, the mobile employee can now be connected to a much broader scope of resources. These connections save time and costs as well as dramatically increase the number of first-time fixes.
More importantly, mobile employees are more connected to the customer. They have the ability to not only connect face-to-face, but through the technologies that encompass all types of media—from the traditional e-mail and text to the use of social networks. Below are the points of connection for today’s mobile employee, and the benefits that each connection provides.
Improving schedules and job information
A connected field service employee has instant access to updated schedules and job information, including:
- Location of the job
- Promised and expected arrival time
- Customer information
- Required tools and inventory
- Expected job duration
- Location of the next job (and subsequent jobs)
The schedule should also indicate timing updates, including the impact of delays, reschedules, early completions, and cancellations. When users can connect through the schedule and see what’s happening in real-time, this allows visibility into when events will occur and what actions, if any, must be taken to keep the schedule on track. For example:
- Field supervisors can see how their teams are doing against their assigned work, or who has the capacity to help a colleague.
- Dispatchers can assign new jobs to mobile employees or reassign jobs in jeopardy.
- Technicians can alert everyone in the service cycle if they have a problem or are falling behind schedule.
Gathering and implementing post-appointment feedback
Gathering customer feedback post-appointment is also critical in maintaining levels of satisfaction. Feedback should be collected immediately after the appointment to confirm that the service is working. If all is working as expected, this feedback can reduce return visits, which is a positive for both customer and technician. And if the service is not working as expected, addressing the issue swiftly will help maintain trust.
Over time, through a sample group of customers, field service organizations can gauge the overall performance of the field force and improve critical measures such as Net Promoter Score (NPS).
To learn more about technology’s impact on field service, read The Future of Field Service and the Connected Mobile Workforce ebook.