Customers are the most important aspect of any business. Without customers, your business won’t survive in the long run. Your organization must therefore provide an excellent experience from the point of sale through post-sale product support. Top-notch service and support build customer loyalty, creating brand awareness and future opportunities for repeat purchases. Unfortunately, some organizations fail to provide excellent service to their customers, not meeting expectations or creating confusion. So how does a field service organization provide best-in-class customer service?
How to Deliver Best-in-Class Customer Service
Nothing makes an already displeased customer madder than a poorly trained customer service agent (“CSR”). Customers expect your team to be experts. Train them to be the experts.
Each CSR must be trained not only in how to use entitlement software and on the products themselves, but on soft skills. CSRs must be able to find the customer and their product and clearly explain what services they are entitled to receive. Each must have access to the skills and knowledge to help identify and eliminate confusion.
For example, products have many features, including those which are cosmetic in function. Not all customers are aware that often, cosmetic pieces are not covered under an onsite warranty. Often they are considered self-service items or are not covered at all which can cause frustration if the CSR lacks the skills to handle the conversation.
Train your CSRs on coverage and service levels. Train them to speak politely and efficiently with customers.
Field service techs and third-party contractors also need to be trained. Train them to use the parts, tools, and information at their fingertips, like device collaboration tools (chat and video) and mobile applications to ensure they fix the issue, the first time onsite.
Customer support can be divided into phases, so communication at each phase is critical to setting customer expectations. CSRs need to be careful in communicating what’s expected in each phase, and its timing. The information should be delivered clearly and repeated for understanding. Grammar and accent should also be considered part of the communication equation. Customers tend to doubt or discount a valuable resource if they can’t speak to it correctly.
The same goes for your in-the-face field techs and contractors. They are the face of your products to your customer's post-sale. Don’t send in a newbie who isn’t versed enough in how to fix the product, sell accessories, or service/maintenance contracts. Train them to do all of the above, but also train them how to communicate. We’ve all been on the receiving end of a field tech that disses the competition, the CSR team, even his own company, who also can’t explain what he or she is doing or will do to fix the product and get out of your house or facility.
Customer Touch Points
Today, none of us rely solely on the toll-free number to contact support or service. As a matter of fact, some organizations don’t even offer a phone number, such as Hootsuite, or offer solely pay-by-the-drink phone support after the warranty period. Because consumers tend to carry connected devices, in high percentages, they expect your field service organization to communicate with them in the channels or with the tools with which they are most comfortable. This means your website, a company app, email and text, and social media channels. Your field service process needs to provide the same level of information and service options that the telephone was relied on for in the past. Additionally, as the economy becomes more and more international, if your customers speak another language, you must support their preferred language of choice.
Be available to your customers in the same ways they communicate with their own networks.
Reliability is perhaps the most important issue to address. In this day and age, it’s just not effective to manually schedule field-based work. Nor is it most effective to rely on one labor force. Use automation software to intelligently schedule jobs. Use communication software to inform the customer when they are scheduled, and intermittently confirm and communicate changes to the schedule. Mix contractors and employed labor to get someone on-site as quickly as possible, and preferably, using the newest in IoT and M2M technologies, get there before the customer experiences downtime.
We’ve all been there. We’ve had to take off work to be available for a field tech. We’ve had to wait a week for a tech to even be scheduled.
Reliable field service organizations schedule jobs using automation, and most importantly show up when they commit to showing up, fix the product and get out.
The effectiveness of all the methods is proven and any business owner or customer care agent can try to be a star to your customers! Train your people. Communicate well and often over the channels that your customers use every day. Use technology that makes your organization more efficient. Mix labor to achieve the best service levels and quickest cycle time. And, most importantly, do what you commit. Show up. Fix the issue. And then get out and on to the next job.
Looking for new ways to delight your customers? Explore how to improve customer retention in the field service industry.