Customer satisfaction and loyalty are hard won, but proactive customer service can assure your brand never goes out of style.
What is field service management, and how can it help your company’s field service be the best it can in order to solve customer problems quickly and efficiently?
We’ve all been on the receiving end of field service. We’ve all waited for a technician to arrive at our home, office, or factory to investigate and fix a problem.
Sometimes it can be a quick process that enjoys smooth sailing and great communication. Other scenarios can be frustrating, time-consuming, and riddled with errors.
What is field service management: Definition and examples
Field Service Management (FSM) is the coordination and optimization of field service operations, which are components of customer service performed outside of the office. FSM includes invoicing, scheduling, dispatching, parts information delivery to the field reps, and field technician interactions and tracking.
Examples of field service management include:
- Repair and maintenance
- Sales and quotes
- Customer support
When field service management (FSM) is done well, technicians can serve as front-line agents that create a better customer experience and inspire long-term loyalty among busy customers who’ve developed high expectations for a quick fix.
Great FSM can deliver on the promises made during the sales process and by the larger brand, rather than undermining that effort.
Benefits of field service management
Sales organizations are often well-oiled machines, delivering the right product at the right time to customers. To keep customers happy after the sale can be more challenging, providing customer care that positively reflects the promises made during sales and by the larger brand. Field service either delivers on these promises, or undermines these efforts and brings down customer satisfaction.
Successful field service delivers the right people to the right jobs and is backed by the right parts and knowledge to get the job done. Ultimately, customers should consistently get the results they need regardless of whether service is over the phone, in the field, via chat, online messaging, social media, or via email.
There are tremendous benefits of field service management software. FSM can help build a successful field service model to provide excellent customer service throughout the customer lifecycle:
- FSM makes your customer service proactive
- Boosts trust and satisfaction via transparency
- Streamlines communication and data flow between front and back office
- Field service management provides flexibility and real-time support
- FSM helps organizations understand and action data to improve customer satisfaction and operational efficiencies
FSM has become particularly popular in industries like telecom, but also in healthcare, where home care workers track information about patients, and specialized industries like mining to provide workers with precise location information.
1. Proactive service
A proactive field service model offers more to the customer–lessening the time between insight and action, while providing greater product knowledge for maintenance and repair. From knowing what service level agreements are needed, to having remote sensors tip off field service techs when a repair or maintenance action is required, proactive field service stays ahead of the customer. This intelligence relieves the customer of work, and increases satisfaction with service.
Field service technicians encounter unpredictable situations–stalled equipment, overheating equipment, malfunctioning systems, and insufficient safety protection. Even when unpredictable problems arise, customer insight and data that is accessible to field service more ably addresses any issues and prevents further equipment damage.
2. Transparency and trust
Scheduling field service is often the first hurdle customers and managers have to overcome.
Nothing creates customer dissatisfaction faster than repair delays, which cause operational outages and lost revenue.
In oil and gas, for example, idle equipment can cost millions. The right systems create transparency between customer, technicians, managers, and other key parties, so the mystery of why a tech is running late, or a part isn’t yet delivered, is solved. A tool that gives customers, technicians, and managers insight into scheduling go a long way to smoothing out scheduling problems, both in terms of technician workload, and in terms of reducing customer wait times.
By offering your customers the ability to schedule appointments based on their availability, to then sync this to the technicians’ calendar, which is also synced to manager’s calendar, removes a significant roadblock to customer trust and satisfaction.
3. Data flow: On-site and off-site collaboration
Providing linkages between off-site field service technicians, and in-office expertise and data is critical. At a customer site, field technician calls plagued by limited access to customer service history, parts and repairs knowledge, and predictive maintenance data, are more costly for the customer. The faster and more effective field service can deliver customer service, the happier the customer.
Create systems to streamline and automate collaboration between mobile technicians, managers, and in-office experts. Give technicians access to service history, equipment knowledge, and all the tools they need to make the repairs and move on to the next customer. Get control of field service by leveraging technology to create bridges between knowledge silos within an organization.
4. Flexibility and real-time support
It’s the on-site technician who is the first point of in-person contact with the customer.
The ability to access service data, check stock, take surveys, generate billing, get relevant signatures, access knowledge and communicate directly with the right people at the right time requires access to the right tools. Having the flexibility to respond across channels to real-time issues is invaluable.
Field service technicians who can only access needed data online, but find themselves outside the reach of wireless routers, deep within the insides of an HVAC system, are stuck.
A technician armed with the mobile tools they need regardless of the ability to access online resources is better prepared to meet whatever contingency arises.
5. Actionable performance improvements and improved operational efficiencies
Excellent customer service is constantly improving, responding to changing circumstances in the wider industry and within a customer’s organization, is able to identify and address logjams, and fix them in short order.
Identifying KPIs and measuring them consistently is one thing. Turning them into actionable performance improvements is the more difficult task.
Measuring service delivery (time on site, customer satisfaction, predictive and preventive maintenance outcomes, cost of repairs over time, field service safety etc.) against targets, highlights problematic areas, people, and products, and helps organizations identify solutions more quickly.
Resolving field service technician performance problems, critical equipment supply issues, ongoing safety concerns, and systemic service delivery revenue shortfalls are only a few of the issues field service organizations face. Creating the right KPIs with the right feedback loops, increases efficiency and ultimately increases customer satisfaction.
Getting control of field service management isn’t easy. Taking actions on these considerations lays the groundwork for operational improvements and increased customer loyalty and happiness.
The key to building lasting customer relationships? Learn how to unlock real-time customer insights and pain points based on data with a CDP.
The challenges of field service management
Keeping any field service organization running flawlessly is no easy feat, however.
There are plenty of challenges facing field service management, including:
- Customer expectations that are higher than ever
- The need to manage a boatload of moving parts
- The need to constantly reevaluate and reallocate resources
Cloud-based technology is transforming FSM
This massive shift in field service management over the past decade is evolving quickly, thanks to the latest mobile, IoT, and AI technology. With integrated, cloud-based software, field service management can create a supportive, agile environment for technicians that increases customer satisfaction.
Not surprisingly, a whopping 60 percent of FSM companies are planning on implementing IoT in the next 10 years.
In this interconnected, integrated universe, companies can graduate from devices that indicate a need for service only after a system failure to devices that proactively schedule a maintenance call with a field service technician.
A truly mobile field service management operation can also take advantage of a liquid workforce, harnessing technology to create a flexible, adaptable, change-ready, and responsive workforces. With machine learning and IOT integrations, your field service efforts also become proactive to prevent issues, rather than simply reacting to problems.
Cloud computing trends for 2023 show sovereign cloud solutions, FinOps, XaaS, AI, and cloud-native strategies are all on the rise.
Maximizing field service management with data
The ability to be mobile is key to maximizing performance in field services management. But it’s access to the right data — and the useful insights that can be drawn from the data — that can be a boon to organizations every step along the way. This includes improving and speeding up the resolution process, extending a company’s customer reach, and generally becoming a more lean and productive organization.
Also, the valuable links between onsite and offsite data can really help FSM soar.
No field technician is thrilled by limited access to customer service history, parts, repair knowledge, and predictive maintenance data. And customers certainly frown when they realize repairs could be more costly than anticipated.
The best, most useful data leads to faster and more effective field service that encourages far more smiles from both technician and customer.
An efficient, supported field service technician can significantly increase revenue for your organization, as well as customer satisfaction.
Customers agree: Field service offers endless business results
Digitalization of field service enables companies realize remarkable benefits in terms of efficiency, productivity, and cost savings.
90% less admin work, 54% more efficient processes, 5 days faster invoicing: that’s what field service management can do for your company.
Countless customers agree: automating and optimizing your field service processes and providing speedy, reliable service to your customers via FSM is a win-win.
Ready to rock FSM?
A strong end-to-end customer service experience is a must in today’s competitive, customer-centric landscape. That means supporting the customer throughout the purchase lifecycle, including after the sale.
During that post-sale period, all the promises that were made can’t suddenly be broken with poor support. Through field service management, every interaction brings insight, expertise and precision, which increases customer satisfaction.
Getting field service management right has become table stakes. No organization can ignore the options available to ensure an unbroken chain of customer experience.
FSM is about putting the right tools in the right hands so that first-class service with as little interruption as possible is assumed – throughout the entire customer lifecycle.