In preparation for this year’s upcoming Compete Through Service Symposium, I took time to reflect on the trends that will impact field service over the coming years. After sifting through analyst reports, notes from customer meetings, and other industry insights, some major themes kept surfacing – and one overarching idea emerged: what affects field service ultimately impacts all aspects of customer service. Lessons learned in the field can have major implications for contact center employees, the design of self-service portals, service management, and vice versa. Keeping the concept of the holistic service organization in mind, here are three major themes to monitor.
Self-service is not just for customers
One of the biggest trends impacting service organizations is the customer’s increasing desire for self-service. Whether it’s through a web portal or in a vibrant online community, customers want the freedom to search for answers quickly and efficiently, using methods that give them complete control. This phenomenon includes not only customers, but also actual service providers. Contact center personnel and field technicians prefer to look up the answers on their own rather than call for assistance. In addition, self-service is never a one-time event, and most millennial-aged service providers prefer to look up an answer multiple times before committing that answer to memory. Taking these concepts into consideration, it’s not enough to merely enable customer self service – organizations must also allow agents and field technicians to self-serve as well. This phenomenon is one part of a greater industry concept commonly known as “the consumerization of IT.” Service providers expect the same level of self-service in their jobs as they do their personal lives.
The closer you get to the customer, the greater the expectations
Today’s customer lives in a world of instant gratification. As a result, they expect each person they interact with in a service organization to play every position. Nowhere is this more apparent than in field service, which is often the last mile of the entire service experience. If your customer wants to use a different credit card than the field service agent has on file, can the field worker update the customer’s profile on the spot? Can your field service representative independently schedule a follow-up appointment for the customer, eliminating the need for another inbound call? Could the field service representative also upsell and offer new products during the appointment? Does he know everything about the customer’s account and their current issue or need? That is the new expectation.
Machines are customers too
What is the difference between man and machine in regards to the impact they have on a service organization? Both can contact your organization by phone, SMS, email or web. Both probably have specific contracts and entitlements. And both can have a detrimental impact to your business if they are not serviced properly. Many of the field service technicians I speak with even go as far as saying every machine they work on has its own unique personality, just like human customers. As a result, whether your customer is a person waiting at home or a gas line running through the middle of the desert, both will require the same levels of attention. Service organizations will need to gather as much information about a machine as possible, pre-diagnosing problems before a field agent is dispatched, just as if that machine reached out to the contact center. In addition, information about the machine, future service requirements, and other critical data, must be gathered by every field service representative. Leveraging technologies, such as the Internet of Things, is allowing your machines to follow similar if not the exact same processes as your human customers.
Field service is just service
In the world of field service, we are constantly looking at the trends that impact the worker of the future. How much power can we give that worker? How easy can we make his job? What kind of customer will he be servicing – a real human being, or temperamental and complex machine signaling that it needs some attention? As we develop the tools to meet these challenges, we can learn how these changes will not only impact the field, but the entire service organization. I look forward to discussing these topics in more detail this November at the Compete Through Service Symposium. Hope to see you there.
Jeffrey Wartgow leads outbound product management for Oracle’s Field Service Cloud. In this role, Jeffrey works closely with both Oracle’s customers and technology teams, helping enable the design products that modernize customer experience. Jeffrey came to Oracle through the acquisition of TOA Technologies, an industry leader in cloud based field service management solutions. Before joining TOA, Jeffrey spent two and a half years as a Director at FTI Consulting in San Francisco, where he was charged with developing the company’s first formal partner program. Prior to FTI, Jeffrey served seven years with Dell Inc. During this time he managed Dell’s Strategic Alliances for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Dell’s Competitive Intelligence team. With more than 15 years of experience in diverse roles across the technology industry, Jeffrey is an expert on mobility, predictive analytics, enterprise cloud computing, technology ecosystems, partnerships, and the dynamic relationship between hardware, software and service in enterprise IT architecture. Jeffrey holds a BBA from the University of Notre Dame, a MBA from the University of Colorado at Denver, and a MIM from Thunderbird School of Global Management.