It may seem surprising, but your field service technicians are often your best salespeople. People often think of field service as a cost center—a necessary part of the overall business, but one that costs money and doesn’t directly control the revenues it helps generate. This is not always the case.
In fact, 68 percent of companies reported they operated field service teams as profit centers. How? Companies that change their approach to field operations (and embrace emerging technologies that enable improvements in how they provide those services) can cut costs and increase revenue.
These four tips are recommended starting points for organizations looking to turn field operations into a profitable part of the business.
1. Empower field service teams to surprise and delight customers
Providing a strong customer experience is one of the most important things a company can do, especially in today’s expanding service economy. According to the US Department of Commerce, the service sector became the largest and fastest-growing part of the US economy in the second half of the 20th century—representing a full 80 percent of the economy. Field service teams are invaluable to a business, as they're poised to provide excellent customer experiences (and by 2020, customer experience will be the key brand differentiator for a business). How the field service team interacts with customers is a key component of building good customer engagement and competing in the service economy.
A tenet of good customer service is the "surprise and delight" model, where organizations make every effort to do unexpected, positive things for customers while exceeding those customers' expectations. Surprise typically involves adding value to a customer experience; delight involves going above and beyond what a customer expects you to do. The same action can accomplish both. Your field service teams should be empowered to surprise and delight your customers.
Some questions you should address:
Do my field service teams have accurate, up-to-date data that puts the customer at the center of the business?
Are we able to leverage the right resource with the skills and inventory to ensure a first-time fix—every time?
Can my teams anticipate customer needs and act proactively?
2. Use collaborative technology
Companies can waste an inordinate amount of time on tasks that produce very little. It will come as no surprise to most readers that emails and meetings are two of the most cited culprits. Organizations that use mobile-enabled solutions like Microsoft Dynamics CRM are empowered to be more productive and speed resolution using a comprehensive set of tools and resources, including integrated rich media knowledge and a platform for collaborating real-time with peers.
Field service organizations are naturally shifting to collaborative technologies, especially as tech-savvy employees increasingly seek flexibility and mobility, and to use the latest technologies they often use in their personal lives. Collaborative platforms allow service agents to work more effectively, and to have ready access to internal resources—from data to support documents—that help them "surprise and delight."
3. Focus on mobile and the Internet of Things
Mobile technology has fundamentally shifted how field service organizations can perform their roles. Field service organizations who go mobile experience a 7 percent increase in productivity. By optimizing for and making resources accessible from mobile devices, including offline mobile capabilities, you make the work easier for your techs—and help keep your customers happier.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is also a game changer for customer service providers. By linking a device with a data-providing sensor, field service teams can receive valuable data about that thing's performance—including knowing when the thing might break before it actually does. This shifts the idea of field service from reactive, after something fails, to proactive, addressing failures before they happen. This reduces downtimes, saves valuable resources, and delights customers by anticipating and addressing their needs.
4. Optimize scheduling and inventory
Consider two field service scenarios. In the first, a technician doesn't know where to go, doesn't know what the customer's problem is, and lacks the right parts to fix the problem on the same day. In the second, the service organization’s CRM has matched the skills of available technicians against the issues the customer is experiencing and automatically dispatches the best person for the job. The technician arrives early, knows exactly what the problem is, and has the know-how and the parts to fix it on the truck.
The second experience is what field service organizations competing in the service economy should aim for. Microsoft Dynamics CRM matches proficiency and competency requirements against available resources, optimizing resources to intelligently balance workloads.
By ensuring the right skills and resources are matched with every job, empowering every field resource with mobile-enabled tools and insights designed for high-touch interactions, and embracing emerging technologies, such as IoT, you can transform your field service organization from a cost center into a profit center—one that can compete and win in a service economy.
Begin your Service Transformation by calling Atrio!