In the long interval after a purchase, the company that made the sale and the manufacturer have to rely on the mobile and remote worker to form the reputation and the customer experience with the product.
Impact of Customer Experience with Field Services:
When a family recently bought an expensive gas range, they found that some of the burners didn't light. They called the manufacturer, which is an international company with an office in the United States. The manufacturer did not have a remote service staff in the United States, but contracted their service to an "authorized representative" company which they said was trained to repair their brand. The service man came to the family's home, but was unable to fix the new range. What's more, he said that the range could not be repaired without an expensive part installation. In examining the range he stripped one of the screws that anchored the stove top to the body of the range. That was his entire contribution to the repair. He provided a little helpful advice and billed the family $90 for the service call. This contact seriously damaged the reputation of the manufacturer in the eyes of this family.
That is the kind of impact those remote service employees who represent manufacturers or sales companies have on a brand. If a product is perceived as reliable and it doesn't work as promised, that immediately hurts the brand. If the remote service worker representing the brand is seen as incompetent or uncaring, that can complete a fully negative attitude toward the brand in the customer's mind.
Under-Regulated Field Service:
Field service is often a company's weakest link. Markets around the world have seen increases in the workload and the costs of the field service technical staff. As the field services become less connected to their core employer, employers feel less connected to their company and often operate as if they were autonomous. Field service units operate with low expectation for efficiency and engagement. Unionized field service workers are sometimes inflexible and resistant to change. They are often skeptical of process and look warily at recommendations from corporate headquarters. Furthermore, as technology changes, real skill gaps emerge in the many field staff workforces. The difficulty that companies have in assessing the actual productivity of their field staff makes it hard for headquarters to account for them.
On the other hand, the customers who cut their eye teeth on online purchasing and technology demand that support, after-sales, and field services make one-stop service calls that fix problems on the first visit, make deliveries that meet or exceed promised times, are accurate and damage-free. Field service people should strongly represent their companies and should be able to up-sell customers on the spot. Field services should be proactive, rather than following a trail of broken-fix calls and routine maintenance.
The Full Customer Journey:
Business (especially B2C companies) are paying a lot of attention to the idea of the full customer journey. That includes the experience of the customer during his or her complete contact with a company and its products. Remote service workers are the key to the full customer experience. In the end, the way the customer perceives the brand depends on many touchstones of contact between the customer, the product, communications, and after-sales service for the extended period of the life of the life of the product.
A company may receive millions of phone calls about their product and must handle each one well. If asked months later, about the experience, the customer will never describe the call merely as a product question. A company that cares about complete customer journeys must do its best with each transaction and address root causes of problems customers face. Customers care about each face-to-face interaction with the company. Most of the face-to-face interaction will come in the person of field service employees.
Schedule and route optimization, complete real-time communications, and service and maintenance contract management systems can enable your employed and contracted field teams to deliver a better experience to your customers.