A few years back, the digital marketing world was abuzz with a new concept called the “micro-moment.” It describes the single, critical bursts of digital customer touch points that help to determine how that journey ends. It’s a sound concept to understand the customer journey and the tipping point that leads to a purchase, engaging them at the right moment to complete the purchase.
Sometimes that touchpoint is so obvious it’s often overlooked – for years. Let’s take for example service organizations that require field service technicians to complete a customer transaction. We’ve all dealt with house alarm or cable providers to companies that service our air conditioners. Unfortunately however, the longer the customer relationship, the more likelihood there’s a history of frustration that erodes customer loyalty, increases churn and customer acquisition costs.
But, just as digital transformed commerce, field service is transforming into a customer-focused line of business by understanding customers across every service and digital touchpoint to maximize loyalty and customer value. It’s an exciting shift when routine field service visits turn into memorable customer experiences and increased satisfaction. So, what exactly is fueling these changes? What does it mean for service providers and customers? Our 2019 list of top field service innovations spotlights what’s new and what’s next.
1. Automatic Dispatch and Internet of Things
Ten years ago, being proactive in field service was a dream. But today, millions of connected devices provide companies with valuable data that help predict when field service assistance is needed and can diagnose problems before customers even realize there is one. This trend is fueling a new type of service interaction that re-sets the bar for customer experience and customer expectations in field service.
2. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
Machine learning (ML) utilizes statistical techniques that allow systems to learn from data as it runs. ML is a vital component to a new generation of routing and scheduling capabilities that improve service using a time-based, predictive, self-learning routing engine. In addition, ML optimizes other aspects of field service including job assignments without human intervention. AI is wrapped around this to allow customers and employees to access information via chatbots and receive personalized recommendations relevant to the service call.
For a manufacturer, automation inspires visions of robots and assembly lines. To a marketer, it means building complex, dynamic digital marketing programs that engage audiences until a desired action takes place. In field service, automation enables service reps to be more efficient and drive revenue. Key customer and inventory data connect to front and back office applications that allow people to ask questions and get answers without speaking to a human – freeing up valuable time for higher value customer interactions.
Field service has always been mobile to some degree. What’s changed is the proliferation of customer mobile devices and the customer data that field service technicians can leverage to re-define the experience they deliver to customers. With real-time and offline data, field service technicians can deliver value-add services directly from their mobile device without the customer calling the service department back to order those same services, enabling a seamless and smooth customer experience.
5. The New Millennial Field Service Worker
Baby Boomers are retiring. Gen X is in upper management and Millennials are filling the Boomers’ void. These new field service workers are natural collaborators, results-focused, and have a very different view toward customer experience compared to the Boomers they’re replacing. They provide the perfect vehicle for effective onboarding while setting the stage for delivering exceptional service – digital.
But don’t kid yourself. Even though technology is being used to reshape field service, customers are still behind the preverbal driver’s seat as they demand more from the companies they do business with. The key to success is marrying the right technology and people to effectively transform your field service in line with customer expectations.
6. Customer Data Centricity and Monetization
As the field service industry shifts to a predictive maintenance model, leaders will continue to drive productivity and ultimately, revenue, through new technology investments. This means honing their data analytics capabilities around customer insights and connected devices. According to Aberdeen, best-in-class organizations that adopt next gen Field Service technology typically see service profits increase by 18 percent, customer retention increase by 42 percent, and SLA performance increase by 44 percent!
New and strong customer expectations have changed the game for field service organizations. The new technology landscape allows service providers to either truly impress or disappoint. Successful companies will deliver on the set of new customer expectations by removing the friction from all digital and in-person touch points to provide seamless, informed interactions to customers.