Is customer service about getting a customer off the phone quickly or cementing an on-going partnership? This may seem like a fairly simple question with an equally clearly apparent answer. But many organizations still treat customers like easily replaceable commodities which are a nuisance to their ability to run an operation cost effectively.
This mindset is changing. Service organizations no longer want field technicians turning more wrenches in a day without understanding their impact on customer relationships. One service executive at an Aberdeen Chief Service Officer event highlighted how her technicians were actually encouraged to spend as much time as needed on site with a customer to make sure all service needs were addressed, not just the one that triggered the initial call. Recent Aberdeen research on Field Service Workforce Management showed how reduced margins, changing customer dynamics, and competition have made service organizations re-think the value and importance of building partnerships with customers through field service.
If your organization still primarily looks to the field to lower your cost of doing business or improve operational efficiencies, I recommend you take a look at four ways top performing service organizations have turned this model on its head, starting with the customer and letting profitability follow:
The goal of service is to resolve customer issues, not exclusively lower costs. In Aberdeen’s recent field service research, top performers prioritized the increase of customer satisfaction as compared to looking to reduce travel time or improve response time. The customer really doesn’t care what your cost structure looks like.
Is anyone home? Even the most optimized schedule will be rendered moot if the asset or customer is unavailable when the service technician shows up. The Best-in-Class ensure that schedules are created with the customer’s availability taken into account. The right part and right technician are wasted if the customer is not available to receive the service visit, leading to a costly second truck roll which satisfies no one.
The value of service with a smile, but without a failure. Waiting for a break to occur puts the service organization at a disadvantage. Preventive and proactive service creates value for the customer; equipment failure equates to $0 for the customer! Customers have de-valued the break / fix model because it is putting out fires leading to lost dollars, but as service organizations mature into a proactive operation the value of service will be re-established in the minds of the customer. No failure leads to increased asset availability / uptime ($$).
Shrink the service window to speed service for the customer. Nearly half of all top performers (45%) in Aberdeen’s field service research provide 2 hour or less wait windows for customers as compared to only 33% for non-top performers. And in the spirit of continuous improvement, a quarter of these top performers (24%) strive to shorten wait windows to provide customers with the peace of mind of knowing when issues will be resolved (0% of the top performers are looking to lengthen wait windows). Customers have “day jobs” too, they should not have to wait for service.
Service excellence is not a cost game. The customer as king should not be a marketing message but instead the service strategy to build an organization around.