Whose Needs Come First? The Customer’s or the Field Service Rep’s?
It’s the classic chicken or the egg scenario….a field rep or technician is the face of your service operations, so does meeting their needs enable them to improve their ability to provide customer service or does focusing on the needs of the customer lay the groundwork for better service in the field?
Here is the conundrum. If a field rep doesn’t have the parts or skill set required to complete a job on a customer site, your customer will be dissatisfied. If the technician arrives late due to traffic or weather and the customer is left waiting and wondering what time they will arrive, the customer is going to be unhappy. If the repair requires a tool that your crew didn’t know to bring in the truck, the experience is often disappointing.
The other side of the coin is thatcustomers expect 24x7 service. When a mission-critical service call is needed, they don’t want to sit on hold or wait until 7 am for the service department to open. They are looking for instant gratification. They want to self-service. They want an app. They want to be able to review their repair or billing history with the swipe of a finger at any time of day. They want recommendations on how to try to fix the problem themselves before they pay for a service call. They want paperless, auditable receipts and to be able to give feedback immediately after the service is completed.
The challenge for businesses is that the needs of both customers and field service are critical to profitability. If you must choose between modernizing your customer experience or your field service experience, you can’t – and you shouldn’t. The answer is to bring your data into a single platform, where the data can be accessed and transactions can occur at any time through a native mobile app available to everyone.
Architecting a solution that meets the needs of both field reps and customers is achievable – and should be the goal if your business depends on delivering outstanding field service. Depending on their log-in credentials, customers can now see the slice of the data and real-time information that is pertinent to them, such as where their technician is on the road and a real-time ETA (like Lyft or Uber). They can access their service history, billing and times slots available for service at any hour of the day or night, with surge pricing charges should they need service after hours or during times of heavy service volume. They can provide instant customer feedback and statistical data that allows your organization to respond to issues within minutes.
For your field reps, consider intelligent chat bots and low-cost, virtual assistants. With the advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) your field reps can receive real-time recommendations before they even leave the warehouse or office. They can now receive information that includes what tools and inventory are highly likely given the service requests they are scheduled to complete. They can video call an expert when they run into a unique problem and see the inventory on-hand, knowing what inventory needs to be transferred from the warehouse or another truck to their vehicle before they leave in the morning. With dynamic scheduling, AI can automatically reschedule their jobs (and message customers) when weather causes unsafe conditions or when traffic causes delays. The efficiencies gained from using AI are quickly becoming the key to responding to the customer’s needs as they evolve and staying connected with customers.
It’s very difficult to reach operational optimization without focus on the needs of both your customers and your technicians/crews/reps. Utilizing a digital platform on a native mobile app that incorporates AI into the workflow, companies can engage 24 hours a day with both customers and technicians, allowing them access to the data they need anywhere, any time on any device.
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