From The Editor | April 21, 2015

How Do We Make Field Service More User Friendly?

Sarah Nicastro

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
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I had a conversation about Uber the other day that really got me thinking about the state of field service today versus where it needs to be. I can’t imagine any of you not being familiar with Uber at this point, but just in case, it’s a mobile app that connects riders and drivers. In many larger cities, the service has become preferred over traditional taxi services. Have you ever used Uber? It’s very user friendly. The app is intuitive, it’s easy to locate a driver near you, all payment is handled through the app itself — not to the driver directly, you’re sent a photo of the driver and the make/model of the vehicle in advance, and so on. Uber has gained popularity so quickly because it’s effective and easy to use.

As people become more and more accustomed to that level of service, it amazes me the contrasting levels of service those same people have to tolerate when it comes to traditional field services — residential services, deliveries, etc. For instance, I ordered a piece of furniture recently and was told that delivery is available from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Was I surprised? No. Was I frustrated? Yes. The four-hour service window just seems unacceptable to me at this point, especially when consumer-facing technologies and applications like Uber are showing us how easy it is to provide timely, efficient service.

I’m not alone in my frustration, and I’m not the only one with evolving expectations. It’s understandable that service organizations can’t completely change overnight, but I think it’s critical for companies to make sure they’re thinking about how they can provide service that’s more in line with what we’ve become accustomed to — the type of service enabled by all of the technologies in use today. Many times your customers will settle for service that’s less than ideal because it’s the best of the “bad” out there. That isn’t something to strive for! You should be working toward providing a level of service that’s not only leading your industry, but leading in general.

Steps Toward Better Service
The best advice I can provide for how to do this is threefold. First, ask your customers what they’d like from you — not what they’ll accept, but what great service would look like for them. You may not be able to meet every request and that’s fine, but this will give you a good idea of what to work toward. Second, look at what your competitors are doing. At a minimum, you want to stay a step ahead of them. Ultimately, you want to truly set yourself apart. To do so, examine how some of the best service providers in the world — regardless of industry — are providing the quality of service they are. You may not be able to mimic what they’re doing, but this exploration will serve as good inspiration and will likely spark ideas that you may miss by only looking within your own industry.