By Kayleigh Fitch-Oracle on Jun 03, 2015
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.
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.