By Ivan Moore, COO, Jolt Consulting Group
Service organizations with 150 field technicians (or less) can have the same difficulties delivering service as larger enterprise companies. However, due to their smaller size, they have limited resources in critical areas; financial, personnel, expertise, versus larger competitors. So how does a service company of this size not only stay competitive but thrive in today’s marketplace?
Jolt Consulting Group has identified three main success factors to excel in today’s marketplace:
So why the cut-off of 150 or fewer field technicians? Although this number may appear arbitrary, it’s actually rooted in Jolt Consulting Group’s experience working with service companies of various sizes across 14 different verticals; this number is a reasonable cut-off point for most industries. Additionally, companies at this particular size account for the majority of service providers in the United States. For example, in the mechanical and HVAC service space, 94 percent of companies in the U.S. are 150 technicians and less.
Exceeding Customer Expectations Is Paramount
With the increasingly competitive marketplace and the immense amounts of information customers have at their fingertips, they select, or maintain, a service provider based on a major factor beyond products, services, and pricing…that is customer experience with that particular service provider. Today’s savvy customers require interaction with a service provider that is, simply stated, easy and frictionless.
Adding to this challenge are customer’s elevated expectations including tighter (smaller) appointment windows, updates and notifications of their service event status, and a consistent experience across all channel interactions (web, phone, email, chat, etc.).
Service organizations that embrace and are successful at exceeding customer expectations insulate themselves from competition and achieve superior financial results. An Aberdeen Group study found that best-in-class organizations (top 20 percent) achieved a year over year change of 21.3 percent in customer satisfaction and 45.3 percent in annual company revenues.
Invest In Service Technology
The days of schedule/dispatch boards created in Excel or scribbled on a whiteboard and field technicians filling out paper forms are of a bygone era. Companies that do not invest continually in service technology will find themselves at a significant disadvantage in the future. Why? Because their competition is making these investments and will be better positioned to exceed customer expectations, reduce operational expenses, and scale their service organizations to grow and meet future challenges.
Fortunately, the cost of service software is no longer a barrier to acquisition; smaller service companies, with tighter budgets and less internal IT resources, are increasingly selecting cloud deployments as their preferred alternative—regardless of how the software is ultimately licensed—to reduce the internal hardware and IT infrastructure footprint.
Most service software applications can adequately manage core service delivery chain activities of an organization including call receipt, schedule/dispatch, field technician mobility, and reporting. If selected and implemented correctly, these solutions can provide operational efficiencies and a positive return on investment.
Focus On Your Core Competency Of Service Delivery
Smaller service organizations typically do not have the financial resources to build out internal expertise in all functional areas of their business. These organizations should focus their resources on their core competency of service delivery. Companies are advised to prioritize dollars towards exceeding customer satisfaction and business growth; for example, marketing campaigns plus adding sales and field technician resources are often prioritized over boosting IT infrastructure.
It is difficult, if not impossible, for smaller companies to gain a competitive advantage by bolstering their IT team when competing against bigger companies with larger and more sophisticated IT infrastructure and resources. However, there are two different roadmaps for a smaller organization to successfully implement an IT strategy.
The first is to select and implement service software that is cloud-based since it will not require internal hardware, infrastructure, and the related internal IT resources to maintain.
The second option is to shift the management, administration and ongoing upgrades of the software to a third party who understands the complexities of both service operations and service technology. Cloud-based solutions allow easy access for third parties to administer, maintain, and enhance the software. The net result is that the service organization maximizes competencies from the service management software and ultimately will impact the level of customer service an organization can deliver, which in today’s marketplace needs to be excellent.
Smaller service organizations not only have the ability to compete but thrive against larger, resource rich companies but they must prioritize their investments and strategies.
In order to be successful, these smaller companies must compete in new and different ways and must focus on a) exceeding customer expectations, b) investing in service technology, and c) focusing on their core competency of service delivery.