By Aly Pinder, Program Director, Service Innovation & Connected Products, IDC
The concept of a 360-degree view of a customer has become less of a hot topic and more of a given when businesses think about customer service. That level of visibility is table stakes, and it is expected that an organization can integrate buyer behavior data with sales and marketing activities. But much of this insight comes from customer feedback surveys or through web traffic and social media activity.
What if manufacturers and service organizations could connect to customers through the interactions of the field service team? Now this, too, should be a no-brainer, but today not many organizations provide technicians with the applications and tools to capture customer data and make that available to other teams in real-time. Many of the tools being used are specific to the work order and not to broader behavioral inputs. Much of the knowledge technicians have regarding customers and the assets on customer sites remains tribal knowledge and does not become shared insight.
How do we close the chasm to ensure shared intelligence? Service organizations and manufacturers should consider a couple of ways they can tap into field technician knowledge to create a true 360-degree view into the customer.
Make technology easy for the field to adopt. This isn’t just about a cool application, but instead providing a tool with a UI and UX that is seamless for a technician to use as part of their everyday tasks, or that can even run in the background while they complete tasks. Too often, technicians are either provided with a glorified paper process on a mobile device or a set of cumbersome workflows that take too long. Either of these approaches will lead to technicians finding workarounds just to get their jobs done, and result in that chasm of shared knowledge getting larger. Field service technology must enable the field team to capture data seamlessly while also allowing for more robust customer data points, ensuring a clearer picture of the customer can be gathered and acted upon across the organization.
Educate the field team on the impact their interactions can have. The field team is often off on an island doing great work. Unlike other functions of the business such as sales or marketing, field service technicians usually don’t have the luxury of a shared space where they can discuss how their actions have benefitted the organization or even other customers. So, organizations need to create channels of communication that can recognize the value technicians create for customers and the impact that capturing customer insights has on the broader organization. Does your organization update the field team when enhancements to the product or the process is made based on their feedback or on the information they captured from direct customer interactions? This type of validation and proof that creating a link between the technician, customer interactions, and the organization have an impact will go a long way to fostering a culture of collaboration. Educating them on the value they can create will communicate the importance of capturing customer insights, ensuring this aspect of the interaction isn’t the one that gets bypassed for expediency.
The field service team must become more than the 'face' of the service organization. Technicians should be the link to truly capturing a 360-degree view of customers. The value of their interactions goes well beyond driving incremental sales in equipment or turning another wrench – it should power the innovations of the future for the organization.