Customer experience is the top priority for field service

Customer-ServiceThere’s a new mantra pervading business: ‘deliver the optimal customer experience’. It’s hardly surprising then that customer experience has been cited as one of the top priorities, along with customer retention, among companies that operate field-based workforces.

Field workforce management company Trimble commissioned Proteus Research to survey Australian organisations that operate field workforces to gather information on their attitudes to a range of issues. The main conclusion was that customer satisfaction and customer retention were the top priorities for these businesses, particularly in light of the fact that customers are increasingly willing to shop around to get the best price and service.

Eighty eight percent of respondents ranked ‘improving customer satisfaction’ as their highest priority, followed closely by ‘improved customer retention’ with a 74 percent rating. These figures put these goals well ahead of ‘increased productivity’, rated as the number one priority by 45 percent of respondents, and ‘profitability’, rated highest priority by 34 percent.

What was perhaps even more surprising was that companies providing field services did not appear to appreciate the nexus between increased customer satisfaction and innovative solutions like FieldTec’s FOCUS that make use of the latest communications and location technologies. The need to invest in new technologies and equipment was ranked as number one priority by only 16 percent of respondents, putting it in equal fifth position with improving sustainability.

(Bottom of the ladders was ‘improving safety standards’, ranked highest priority by only five percent of respondents. One can only hope that all other respondents consider safety standards to be already top notch.)

Ninety six percent of respondents said that greater emphasis needed to be applied to improving job scheduling and job completion, and 73 percent said that better communication with customers was required such as providing customers with more accurate and timely information on job status, in particular making sure they were told “when a job was going to be late.”

These goals can all be met by mobile workforce management technologies, but not without investment being made into technologies, implementation, configuration and staff training.

And it was clear from the survey that implementation and use of state-of-the-art field workforce management systems is relatively low. Just 16 percent of respondents’ companies had installed fully automated systems. Sixty five percent said that their technology was a mix of automated and manual systems and 20 percent said they relied on manual systems.

The report concluded that these figures “reinforce the notion that there is a low level of understanding when it comes to the value proposition of field service management technology.”

“Businesses”, it said, “need to understand that meeting customers’ increasing expectations in regards to standards of service, responsiveness, and the prompt resolution of problems can be achieved with the deployment of the latest technology solutions. The ability to provide customers with accurate information on scheduling, delays and arrival windows can go a long way to improving an organisation’s customer satisfaction and retention levels.”

The report said that these ideas were generally recognised but respondents acknowledged that: “there were numerous impediments to increased investment in this area. In many cases, it was perceived that the organisation did not have the adequate skills to manage the implementation of new technology and the change management processes required for a smooth transition.”

About FieldTec

FieldTec are leaders in field workforce and asset management solutions for local Government and utilities. Their dedicated mobile workforce management solution FOCUS provides organisations the ability to collect data about both planned and reactive works at the worksite, and view that information in the office in real time resulting in better operational decisions and improved customer service.

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