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The Role of Data in World-Class Field Service

Today, companies already have more data than they can handle, but only a few have figured out how to manage, consolidate, and activate all the different data sources to personalize experiences. 

Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) are increasingly used to achieve this. The basic premise of Enterprise CDPs is that a wide variety of customer data sources can be ingested at scale and processed to do something useful with that insight. 

Typically, marketers use this to help craft more accurate customer segments for personalized messaging across channels. However, we believe that there is much more value in customer data than just using it for marketing segmentation. Previously we talked about how customer intelligence can be used to drive revenue in customer service. Now, let’s talk about another area of service that is often overlooked when it comes to using customer data: Field Service.

The right information increases field service efficiencies

Field Service is an integral part of the customer experience. When all else fails, this is the final effort to ensure that the customer gets their problem fixed correctly while not interrupting their life or business any more than it already has been. It requires simplifying complex operations and coordinating resources in the field while juggling cancelations, weather, traffic, and now a pandemic. Field Service is also an area that will disproportionally impact your brand’s image. We’ve all been the customer standing there in our pajamas talking to the field service representative who is repairing your HVAC system - this is the most intimate of service experiences.

Field service operations alone rely heavily on data, in both the data it receives and sends out. This data is critical in identifying the best course of action to quickly and effectively solve problems in the field. This applies to the planning, scheduling/assigning, and forecasting of fieldwork. Data is used to answer questions like:

  • Who is the best mobile resource to send to the job considering factors like work skills, work areas, SLAs, inventory, and more?
  • How can we automatically plan the optimal route for our field resources? 
  • What parts are available and where?
  • How can we automatically communicate the status of the work in real time (ETA, delays, updates, etc.) to the customer?

Now imagine a field service organization that is scheduling and executing tens of thousands of jobs per day. It becomes clear that the amount of data needed to run these operations smoothly is tremendous. Let’s call this operational data. But, in addition to that, there is a tremendous opportunity to leverage customer intelligence for field service — the idea that the more you know about your customer, the better you can serve them fits nicely into this space. 

Let’s have a look at some examples:

One of the key value propositions of an Enterprise CDP is a dynamic 360˚view of the customer. This becomes truly valuable when used in real-time by the people interacting with your customers face-to-face. Think about it — how valuable would it be for your mobile resource, who is about to walk into your customer's residence or place of business to solve their problem, to be equipped with a snapshot of the key data points about your customer?

At a glance, your field service workers could view the full service history of your customer, who was the last person to visit, any relevant notes, a list of all assets, contracts, warranties, and more.

Field service organizations find a deep understanding of a customer’s history, complex problems, or when it’s time to recommend an upgrade or an upsell is extremely valuable. This type of data creates empathy for your customer, and guides your mobile workforce during these crucial face-to-face interactions, improving the overall customer experience.

I have worked with field service organizations for the last decade. You’d be surprised by how many field service organizations struggle with this still. But when done right, it can transform not only your field service organization but your overall business. See here our customer Badger Daylighting Ltd. talk about the role of data in field service at a recent event

Data powers better customer experiences

Being a data company, Oracle’s view is that there is much more relevant data available to streamline experiences. Consider this when looking at marketing data, for example: 

  • How much more consistent would your business seem if your field service organization gave the same marketing messages as the customer receives over emails and on your website?
  • What if the mobile resource could see attributes like customer lifetime value relative to other customers or propensity to purchase a new service or product?
  • What about a quick snapshot of the recent product pages the customer browsed online recently?
  • What if third-party data could inform the mobile resource that the customer is passionate about snowboarding, gaming, and outdoor cooking to help guide a conversation and build a stronger human connection?

The possibilities are endless when it comes to providing field service organizations with this level of customer insight and intelligence.

Another use-case that drives value using these rich customer data points is around the intelligent scheduling of jobs. 

  • What if you could schedule your mobile resources based on affinity with the brand of internet modems?
  • What if you could reschedule your best mobile resource to a job with a customer that has a high propensity-to-churn score?
  • What if you could send the mobile resource that is best skilled in upselling to customers with the highest disposable income?

Imagine you are running the field service operation of an HVAC servicing company. What if you could leverage data from a public, online real-estate repository to get the estimated construction date (year) of the house. 

Why is that relevant? If you know the year the house was built, it becomes very easy to approximate the original HVAC systems' end-of-life. Leveraging this data during a field service visit lets the system automatically understand that a more sales-skilled resource is needed to help make a sale on a new HVAC unit. This is a great example of using available data in a smart way, and the sky is the limit when it comes to using data for more intelligent scheduling.

Another overlooked area with high potential in the field service space is around feeding insights to your intelligence platform. Your field resource is literally standing in your customer’s home or place of business. They are talking face-to-face (in many cases, they are the only face-to-face interaction) with your customers and can read the room (i.e., subtle facial expressions, body language, etc.). They can deeply observe your customers’ environment and context for the duration of the job. You can't get more intimate with your customers than that.

Customer intelligence helps close the gaps

Just imagine the tremendous wealth of observed insight your mobile workforce can collect that would be highly valuable for your marketing department and overall business. Offering your field resources an intuitive way to collect and share those insights is an area that offers a lot of opportunity to close the gaps.

When it comes to customer intelligence and field service, the possibilities are endless. In the end, it comes down to how your business reviews the available data and how to consolidate and activate that data across all customer touchpoints, including the most intimate touchpoint of all—the field service visit.

A good first step to start driving better field service with customer intelligence is to create an inventory of the different data sources with relevant information available in your business today. 

Discover field service in this product demo. Oracle will be more than happy to have a conversation about how we can help drive next generation field service experiences with customer intelligence.

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