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We’re not the first to say that field service management is highly complex. After all, we are in the business of offering solutions to smooth out much of that inherent complexity. In short, we feel your pain! If work is happening off company property, it’s a matter of field service management, and every step of the field service workflow presents many unique challenges. Safety risks, new compliance procedures, unpredictable demand, multiple remote teams working across vast geographies, new back office processes and, perhaps most significantly, increasing customer expectations. Failure to meet these modern challenges head-on can severely affect your SLA and KPI adherence, driving up costs while lowering mobile workforce productivity. In the worst case, your success and customer satisfaction could be hindered.

Companies operating across industries rely on field service for growth more than ever, and successfully navigating these challenges is the goal. This is especially true when delivering customer-centric field service that consistently delights and exceeds expectations. To remain competitive while overcoming staff retention issues & quiet quitting in field service, service leaders have to build new operational strategies that drive employee engagement and accelerate innovation while focusing on revenue generation. 80% of decision-makers say field service is key to their overall strategy, with 75% of decision-makers describing field service as the primary revenue driver. This focus on exceptional field service delivery combined with heightened customer expectations requires a customer-centric approach to field service at every level. Let’s look at how organisations can make field service customer-centric while improving the working lives of those employees responsible for delivering it.

Challenges of the field service management environment 

Seamless field service that exceeds customer expectations is a tall order, especially when facing challenges related to:
  • Long waiting times & low first-time fix rates
  • Poor customer communication & service
  • Field technicians who are inadequately briefed.
These factors not only frustrate and disappoint customers but can also increase the need for costly and inefficient return visits. This can leave mobile technicians stressed, further magnifying potential or pre-existing employee engagement issues.
For many field service organisations, the afterglow of the pandemic meltdown has prompted many to reconsider safety standards for staff and customers. Many organisations adopted new solutions, such as video-based remote support and enhanced customer phone support. However, two out of three consumers preferred in-person service, even during the pandemic. These solutions, therefore, do not provide a complete solution even though they are a great addition to your field service arsenal. This is undoubtedly a problem. How do you meet new safety requirements while keeping customers happy and optimising mobile workers to perform at their highest capacity? Here are five tips you should know.
One: Consolidate field service data using cloud-based software
That title may seem very specific… because it is! Getting the correct data to your mobile workforce as and when needed is essential. Being able to provide excellent customer service becomes nearly impossible without having a combination of:
  • Customer-specific details (address, site, equipment, warranty).
  • Comprehensive job information & context.
  • History of the asset and previous repairs completed.
  • What parts or equipment is required to complete a job?
  • Availability & duration.
Briefing mobile workers with this information will reduce the risk of a failed first-time fix or a costly SLA breach while optimising field worker time on site. Consolidating this information takes a platform which connects the contact centre with dispatchers, inventory, asset management and maintenance software, and even sales to provide field workers with a complete picture and context. By centralising assets and information into one platform, organisations can ensure connected, consistent customer interactions that deliver value at every service touchpoint.
Two: Empower management with real-time field service intelligence
Tracking a dispersed workforce is the primary challenge facing field service organisations. As technological complexity increases, so do the complexity of the jobs a field service organisation can complete. When managing such complex services across geographies, lacking control & visibility leads to operational inefficiencies and frustrated field service management.
Field service managers require complete schedule, task and asset visibility to perform their jobs well. Service managers can leverage this visibility to update customers and manage field technicians correctly, ensuring they have the right equipment, parts, skills and time to complete a job.
Field service managers work most effectively using an integrated service platform with real-time field service intelligence. Such platforms identify performance issues, highlight negative trends in field service performance before consequences manifest, and dynamically maximise their team’s productivity as field service is delivered daily.
Three: Field technicians are engineers and brand ambassadors.
Field service employees must demonstrate more than just exceptional technical skills. As was mentioned earlier, two-thirds of customers still prefer in-person visits and communications over digitally delivered means post-2020. It is essential, therefore, for mobile workers to:
  • Meet safety compliance standards at all times
  • Positively represent their organisation’s culture and values.
  • Clearly and competently communicate issues & solutions to mixed audiences.
  • Listen & be sympathetic to customers’ needs or issues.
Mobile technicians must be viewed as your brand ambassadors; I see this as an organisation’s most significant opportunity to excel at field service delivery. It’s a net win-win and a worthwhile investment, even if mobile teams need thorough training to deliver this. Empowering field service managers and employees to optimise efficiency and performance while focusing on developing client-facing skills will only strengthen customer loyalty and trust. This positively impacts net promoter scores and may help secure expanded or higher value future contracts.
Organisations can use digital training and centralised assets to update mobile workers on the go with up-to-date safety regulations and field service best practices. This keeps employees consistently well-trained, heightening technical and customer-facing abilities and greater job satisfaction. To learn more about why mobile staff may underperform or disengage in the field, read my latest article on this exact topic.
Four: Improving field service management with real-time communication.
When it comes to job scheduling, convenience for the customer is critical. It’s only natural that customer satisfaction will be hurt if an appointment they booked time for is cancelled without warning. Many will understand the slight delay. Most of us will be patient and understanding, especially if we’re regularly updated and kept in the loop. Uncommunicated changes or cancellations, however, can be a deal breaker.
Organisations can track field worker locations using mobile workforce management solutions. These solutions can be used to provide customers with real-time updates. By informing customers regularly, it aligns their expectations with mobile worker capacity & timing. This results in fewer frustrated customers for field workers to mediate and a happier working life for the technician.
Five: Maximise efficiency with automation 
In field service management, many aspects of service delivery are very time-consuming. Costly inefficiencies often mount upon simple errors and mistakes. Mounting inefficiencies can originate from unnecessary duplication of field data, inconsiderate route planning and poor first-time fix rates.
Automating critical processes can go a long way toward streamlining field service operations and boosting competitiveness. Automating workflow management provides mobile workers with a clear overview of their work. This information often includes the background details of each visit, the time and date of an appointment, and the location provided with a dynamic route plan. Travel times can be reduced with optimised routes and live traffic data, sending field technicians to the correct site as part of an integrated workflow that prioritises efficiency. In contrast, automated scheduling reduces errors and frees employees to pursue customer-facing activities.
Organisations can reduce the burden on teams in the field by enabling customers’ self-service or remote assistance options. For instance, with Remote Assist, customers can book phone and video appointments to provide a remote diagnostic function. This enhances the standard of remote support provided while reducing the number of unnecessary site visits by fully briefing a technician before arrival.

Closing Thoughts

I believe the customer experience is one of the most important aspects of field service delivery as, ultimately, the customer is always right. Customer service is also essential to doing business, particularly in business-to-business (B2B) operations or within maintenance and facilities management organisations. Making the most of customer touchpoints and your mobile workforce builds solid customer relationships. This is essential to customer retention, brand differentiation and a strong financial bottom line.

Transforming Field Service

I’ll leave you with this; consulting firm Bain & Company notes that “…deriving strategic advantage from loyal customer relationships requires true differentiation.” One way to claim a distinction in this highly competitive market is to provide an outstanding customer experience throughout your field service delivery. Check out our Transforming Field Service Management eBook below if you are beginning a digital transformation of your field service management. It dives deep into what makes for excellent field service delivery, outlining how your organisation can take incremental steps towards enhancing customer service and maximising operational efficiency.

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Edward Bell

Edward Bell, Totalmobile's Content Strategist, shapes and delivers compelling content spotlighting their unique SaaS solutions. With 6+ years in MarComs, his journey spans diverse marketing roles, driven by tech passion. Edward fuels Totalmobile's mission, educating and advocating for impactful solutions across sectors, ensuring ROI for customers.