By Brian Albright, Field Technologies
While field service customers want a more “Uberized” experience, many service organizations are struggling to meet those expectations according to a new global survey by software vendor ClickSoftware.
The company surveyed both consumers and field service organizations (FSOs)/suppliers. Customers ranked ease of booking and real-time communication as the highest indicators of good customer service experiences. Service companies still have trouble making this a reality, however. The study found that suppliers are not meeting customer expectations because most of them use siloed, manual communication tools for interacting with customers.
For customers, convenience is king. According to the survey, 37 percent of consumer respondents in the U.S. said the key benefit of real-time communication with field service suppliers is “avoiding wasting time while waiting for a technician to arrive.” In Australia, 46 percent of respondents agreed (and other geographies showed a similar response rate). The second-ranked benefit was “not having to take time off of work to wait in for a field service engineer.”
Roughly two-thirds of respondents said that long wait times between making the appointment and the actual visit resulted in a bad customer service experience.
“The Amazon and Uber business models have broken the customer service mold. Now all service encounters are held to the same bar, no matter if e-hailing a cab or scheduling a cable repair,” said Tom Heiser, CEO of ClickSoftware. “The voice of the customer is loud and clear; increased convenience and a more on-demand experience is necessary to reach the bar and companies that embrace next-generation customer experience through enhanced field service solutions will succeed.”
Sixty-one percent of suppliers, meanwhile, ranked customer satisfaction as a key measurement of their success, but the survey indicates that these companies often don’t understand their customers’ needs. Just three percent of suppliers indicated that response times or optimizing service delivery were important.
For example, the telephone was the top method of communication across all regions, even though customers want a more automated or online (Uber-like) service experiences. According to ClickSoftware: “Optimizing the scheduling of the field service team did not rank high for suppliers despite a clear indication of the value placed on not wasting time by consumers.”
Less than 5 percent of consumers said they had received an Uber-like communication via social media, mobile tracking, or interactive voice recognition. Even though meeting rising customer expectations was listed as the top communication driver by suppliers in most regions, they have yet to take the steps necessary to provide the level of service (when it comes to communication) that their customers expect.
Asked what their top communication challenges were, suppliers listed real-time communication and tracking the field service team in real-time as the most vexing.
Some service companies have taken this to heart. As we wrote about in a recent issue, both DISH Network and Comcast offer this Uber-style functionality when it comes to tracking technician arrivals.
In terms of technology, field service organizations in Australia, the U.S. and the UK said that the Internet of Things (IoT) was the most likely future field service trend. In Europe, suppliers listed wearables and business intelligence technologies as more likely.
More than a quarter of consumers said that they expect access to “direct and live communications” with technicians and a more on-demand experience within the next five years. In the U.S. and UK, 35 percent and 37 percent of consumer respondents respectively said that real-time tracking of service professionals would be common in the next five years.
For more information on the study, visit ClickSoftware.