Wednesday Jun 03, 2015

Applying a Retail Best Practice to Improve Field Service

While in college, I worked as a cashier at a local garden center. During the busy season, I would furiously scan, type and swipe, getting customers through the line and out the door as fast as humanly possible. But no matter how quickly I completed the transaction, my manager encouraged me to always ask one simple question: “Did you find everything you were looking for today?”

Asking that question may seem obvious, as the garden center wanted to add a few extra dollars to every sale. But this simple thing also contributed to a better overall experience for customers, whether they knew it or not.

Minimizing disruption to the customer as they make purchases and consume services is paramount to modern customer service.

At the garden center, taking the time to ensure the customer had everything they came for, and possibly a few things they didn’t consider, minimizes future disruption – aka the need to return for a forgotten item and wait in line again. We generally appreciate a relevant and friendly reminder for something we want or need at a retail store or online…

So why do we ever accept anything less for transactions that happen in our own homes?

Field service professionals travel to us in order to minimize the disruption of a transaction on our lives. (There are many accounts of disruption caused by long wait windows and no-show technicians; however this is a separate problem that can be solved with a predictive approach to field service management.)

I recently spoke with an HVAC professional to understand how mobile employees manage the flow of seasonal repairs and ongoing maintenance work. I expected his biggest challenges would be how to efficiently source and match parts and inventory to the appointments and execute within SLAs.

Wrong! In an interesting twist, what’s really needed is a process that could help remind the technician at the job site to do that little extra to make the customer happy and the business more profitable – much like the retail cashier’s “Did you find everything you were looking for today?”

What if HVAC technicians had the same sort of analytics-backed technology in hand that powers online shopping recommendations, offering a reminder to check the coolant levels on a customer’s air conditioning (AC) unit while on site? And then, made it simple to capture payment for that service? Or book a follow up appointment? This is the ultimate in minimizing disruption through more intelligent service.

“Did you find everything you were looking for today?” might be commonplace in retail sales, but it’s not yet a widespread practice among field service operations. Yet there is an opportunity to infuse this type of mindset into almost any field service organization.

For those interested in making the transition, here are some of the benefits:

1. Happier customers: Great customer service today means giving customers what they want with minimal disruption. The responsibility is on the technician to make sure that customer has everything she needs on the first visit, before he walks out the door.

2. Higher sales per transaction: Capture revenue before you lose the moment. I recently had a new dishwasher delivered and had forgotten to request the installation service along with it. I was willing to pay the fee, but the technician was not allowed to accommodate my request.

3. Consolidated efficiencies: Why roll two trucks, for separate appointments when the service representative on site can simply give the customer what she wants? Field service applications that provide real-time visibility for dispatchers and the ability to adjust job lengths as things change enable the flexibility to offer additional services in the home.

4. Seamless follow up: In the case where a follow up appointment is absolutely required, it’s no longer acceptable to put the burden of scheduling back on the customer. Instead, empower field service employees to book follow up visits – you may be returning a second time, but it will be at a time that’s convenient for the customer.

The field service technology is there – it can provide the context, information and technical capabilities. Now it’s up to you to design field service processes so you can give customers everything they want.

Monday Sep 22, 2014

Do your customers know more than your agents? Shift the equation with this webcast Thurs., Sept. 25 at 2 pm ET featuring Amberleaf

Have you ever called a contact center and known more about the company’s products and services than the agent? Or been bounced around to several different agents before you got the right answer?

That’s a recipe for customer service disaster. Don’t let that happen to your organization.

Tune into this webcast on Thursday, September 25 at 11 am PT / 2 pm ET to become the Master Chef of modern customer service with best practices from Amberleaf President John Kariotis. 

Over the last 15 years, John has helped hundreds of companies transform their contact centers into modern customer service organizations.

He’ll share customer success stories – and pitfalls to watch out for – so you can accelerate your own success.

Register here

Friday May 02, 2014

The Art of Easy - Part 5 of 6: Knowledge Makes It Easy For Everyone by Nav Chakravarti

Once there was a time when the question  “What’s on TV?” was just as easy to ask, as it was to answer. There just wasn't much on – it could be printed on one page of newspaper! Now try asking that question today? It’s no longer simple – “Do you mean on Apple TV, WebTV, Google TV, Hulu, Cable, On Demand…?”And by the time you figure out what’s on and what you want to watch, the show is over.

This complexity of choice from what we do and how we do it manifests itself not only in products, but also in business processes across global industries. Not surprisingly customers have ever more questions about buying, using, and maintaining these increasingly complex and sophisticated products and services.

It’s not ‘simple’, but the expectation is that you make it ‘easy’. Customers expect that you will answers their questions easily and in context, in a manner relevant to their needs, with answers that are reliable and accurate. That is why knowledge management is now at the forefront of the customer experience problems that businesses are looking to solve.

1. Start Small but Plan BIG

If you are just embarking on a knowledge management strategy then it’s okay, even advisable, to start small with a simple knowledge base to support a particular product, service line or customer segment where better answers will make a huge difference. To do that, you need a solution that can deploy rapidly, but also grows to with your enterprise knowledge management needs. So it can be infused into everything, rather than being left as another silo.

2. Understand What You Have

The 80/20 rule of knowledge is that 80% of what’s needed is best addressed with the 20% of your most valuable content. So even if you can’t answer all the questions, collect the answers that you are able to identify and verify as most used. We call this “what you know you know” content explicit knowledge. You can bring the remaining 80% of your content into the fold over time as your initiative grows, as long as your solution supports connecting multiple sources and content types.

3. Understand What They Need

Don't just focus on the content; you also have to understand what and how customers and employees are looking for it. You might be able to train a few, but you can't force the majority of your customers to hunt for information with specific words/symbols, or perform a series of navigation clicks to get to a place that has what they need. They will simply resort to the path of least resistance, which may be to use a higher cost channel. Or worse, buy a competitor’s product. So it's important to accommodate the various ways that people ask and look for information. You need a solution that can match your terminology with the way customers ask for help, in their own style and language; a solution that can deliver multiple navigation paths, as well as connect them to one answer. And can validate and course-correct the experience using decision tree navigation and assistance.

4. Learn What You Don’t Know

In Step 2, we covered collecting explicit knowledge. Well, as it turns out, knowledge constantly evolves and what we know about it changes. So it’s critical to get feedback along the way and give the people who do know, the chance to share what they know. Make sure the people who have the knowledge are able to rate, suggest or even create new knowledge. We call this sort of knowledge that is trapped in people’s heads, implicit knowledge, “what you didn't know you knew” This is why you need analytics that let you easily identify gaps through reports, gather direct feedback, and augment explicit knowledge with implicit knowledge.

5. Keep Making It Better

Knowledge has a shelf-life. It grows stale over time because things change. Every piece of Knowledge has an ongoing value in both investment and return. So knowing performance metrics, by segment, is key to knowing whether to invest further, or not. This is especially important for any content that gets translated where the cost can be multiplicative unless it’s delivering value. You don’t know how well you’re doing unless you measure it, so having a solution that easily delivers you the required data and analysis is critical. Knowledge Management is a commitment to constant improvement.

By now you have figured out that the art of making Answers EASY takes time, effort and investment. But if you try and short cut it with a silo approach, you’ll just end up making it more complex and costly. The Oracle Service Cloud makes Knowledge Management a foundation for your Modern Customer Service organization.

Tuesday Mar 25, 2014

Part 1 of 6: The Art of Easy: Make It Easy To Deliver Great Customer Service Experiences by JP Saunders

Modern Customer Service is helping businesses to differentiate and grow in today’s competitive market. Why? Because your success gets accelerated when you take care of the people that make you successful. Modern Customer Service is about just that, taking care of your customers, and your people that support them.  To do that, you need to make it EASY to deliver great experiences, time and time again.

Businesses that make it “look” easy, stand out, because they consistently deliver experiences so memorable that their customers feel compelled to share them. But ask any of them how they do it, and you will quickly learn that the ART of EASY really isn’t EASY at all - or we would all be doing it! The most common business challenge stems from underestimating the complexity of simplicity, which can be devastating to the customer’s experience.

EASY is an ART. And it requires a deep understanding to get the right results - understanding of your business and of your customer, which can be applied in your cultural skills. Your canvas is the combination of every engagement channel you have where the picture of your brand gets painted. Your pallet of colors is the collection of your people, knowledge and data. Your brushes are the technologies that blend all together. In order to make “EASY”, beautiful and repeatable, you need solutions that provide a paint by numbers approach.

In this six part blog series, we will help guide you in managing the complexity of your customer service business challenges, while avoiding the common pitfalls, and deliver the type of great experiences that your customers will want to share with others. Experiences that are easily repeatable by you, and hard for your competitors to replicate.  We will show you how Oracle Service Cloud empowers your business to care, take action and succeed in your Web, Contact Center, Knowledge, Policy, and Cloud customer service initiatives, to become a Modern Customer Service organization.

Saturday Nov 02, 2013

Webcast with Brian Griffin, Ancestry, 2013 Winner 10 Best Web Support Sites

The web is one of the fastest growing channels for providing service, support and information, as seen in The Service Council's (TSC) latest multi-channel research survey. Join TSC's Chief Customer Officer Sumair Dutta as he shares key findings from his current customer experience research from over 200 organizations.

Sumair will be joined by Brian Griffin, Senior Program Manager, Global Support Experience, Ancestry.com who will show how Ancestry is using the web as a powerful tool to enhance self-service opportunities and increase customer engagement.

Smarter Web Service Educast

Thursday, November 14th

2 pm ET / 11 am PT

Register:
http://bit.ly/1cwz4Ns

 

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