By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service
I was reading a Forrester 2019 Customer Experience (CX) predictions blog last week and this quote stuck out to me, “Meanwhile, customer expectations have been rising slowly but steadily. In the current favorable economy, it’s likely that this movement will continue, pressuring firms to improve CX just to keep from falling back even further. It’s like what the Red Queen said in Through the Looking-Glass: ‘. . . it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.’”
While many field service organizations may feel they are running in place with their efforts to advance CX, it is important to keep the forward motion. As you work to further your CX initiatives, self-service is a critical topic. You can’t provide a stellar CX without strong self-service capabilities, and the demand from your customers to take control of their service experiences is only going to increase.
I spoke recently with Aly Pinder Jr, Program Director, Service Innovation & Connected Products at IDC Manufacturing Insights about what he feels 2019 will bring, and the expansion of self-service offerings quickly came up. “I believe customers will play a bigger role in their own service experiences. Customer portals will go beyond an FAQ tab to empower the customer to interact with the service organization, peers, or even the front-line technician. This added access will transform the relationship between the customer and service organization, adding visibility, value, and a bond that will be tougher to break by a competitor,” he says.
So, what is important to your customers with regard to self-service, and why? Here are three general areas in which you need to ensure you are meeting ever-increasing demands and empowering your customer-base.
- Seamlessness: Customers want to be able to reach you when they want, how they want. If they call, they want someone to answer. If they prefer mobile, they want to be able to communicate through an app. Some like email while others choose chat. The goal is to be there when they need you, in whatever way they want to reach you. And, most importantly, to ensure that interactions are captured and communicated company-wide so that customers don’t have to repeat themselves or do redundant work.
- Control: Customers want to be able to take matters into their own hands. In today’s tech-savvy culture, most customers won’t tolerate having to call and wait on hold to schedule an appointment. They want to be able to log on to a portal or use an app to schedule and modify appointments themselves. Self-scheduling is a must-have capability. Customers also want the ability to view information about their account and service history, to make changes to preferences or appointments as needed, and to view information on additional/alternative products and services at their leisure.
- Real-Time Insight: As consumers, we are so accustomed to being able to access any information we need at any time. From a service perspective, providing the ability for your customers to peruse their account information, history, and scheduled appointments is only step one – but that’s just the beginning. You should also be considering how to provide customers with real-time updates on scheduled appointments, technician details and arrival time, and immediate access to the service summary and invoice upon completion. IoT presents another opportunity to provide real-time information to customers on equipment you’re servicing, and this data is often valuable enough that you can leverage it to increase service revenue.
There are a wealth of solutions available to you today that can help you deliver on your customers’ self-service demands by augmenting your customer service function. Making the investment in strong self-service capabilities is worthwhile, and arguably essential. Your investment will pay off in higher customer satisfaction and NPS scores, as well as providing a competitive edge if you can deliver a truly seamless experience that provides the control and insights your customers are seeking.