Written by: Sarah Nicastro, Editor in Chief, Field Technologies Magazine
Today’s leading field service organizations have recognized the importance of customer experience, and realize that to remain competitive service delivery needs to evolve to become more modern and user friendly. However, recognizing the need to become more customer-centric and actually becoming more customer- centric are not the same thing! Here are three critical steps to get you started on your quest to provide a stellar customer experience.
When it comes to determining the type of experience your customers want from your company, there’s no substitute for asking them. It’s not uncommon for service organizations to make the mistake of assuming they know what their customers want, need, or expect – and I strongly advise against that. Getting real data and having actual conversations is the only way for you to form the insights you need on what you need to do differently to satisfy your customers. Data can be gathered through surveys, but having in-depth conversations is an irreplaceable tool if that’s possible for you to do. I’ve also spoken with companies that have done what they call “customer journey mapping” where they walk through a customer experience step-by-step to examine all possible failure or frustration points, and then compare this with the description of the experience their customers want to determine the changes they need to make within their service delivery processes. However you do it, getting firsthand data from your customers on what they want and determining where you’re falling short will give you the insight you need to develop a strategy for improvement.
Once you have an informed plan for improvement, you can start taking steps toward your end goal. Depending on your company’s current service delivery model and how vastly it differs from your customers’ expectations, your path to improvement may be fairly simple or incredibly complicated. Regardless what end of the spectrum you’re on, the evolution will involve the alignment of your people, processes, and technology use.
It’s imperative to have agreement from the top down on how important customer experience is, how it will be used to drive the business, and what steps need to be taken to improve. You want to help your employees at all levels – and particularly in the field – understand why you’re making the changes you are, and exactly what you expect of them. Give them an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback, and make them feel invested in your overall mission.
Chances are the service you’re delivering today isn’t as good as it could be. Customers’ expectations are rapidly evolving, thanks to experiences like Uber, Amazon, and Netlfix. Modifying and refining your service processes is how you’ll improve upon the customer experience – so you need to look for the areas of opportunity to change processes to remove friction in the customer experience. Process changes aren’t easy because they become so ingrained, but a thorough examination of where you’re falling short or where you could be doing better is what it really takes to take your customer satisfaction from bad to good or good to great.
Today’s technologies are great enablers of change, but they can’t do it all for you. Meaning, you have to have your people on board and your processes clean before you can layer on technology to drive further impact. With engaged employees and efficient processes, technologies like telematics, field service software, mobile apps, IoT, AR, and AI can give you the edge over your competition when used intelligently. Take technology one step at a time, though. If you try to take on too much at once, it can impair instead of empower.
It’s important to understand that customer experience is a moving target – you can get it right today, and it’ll change again tomorrow. The process has to be ongoing. This means that you need to find a streamlined method to gather feedback on an ongoing basis. Surveys that measure satisfaction, like NPS, are valuable tools when used smartly. Many people have told me that if you’re going to use a survey, it needs to be delivered immediately following the service experience – and ask for quick feedback first, followed by more detailed feedback if they’d like to provide additional perspective. Another thing to consider and prepare for is how you’ll handle negative feedback. The companies that are excelling at customer experience have a system in place for following up on negative feedback almost immediately, and having empowered employees that feel comfortable resolving problems handle those conversations. Keep in mind that gathering the data is important, but taking action on the information you’re gathering is essential for it to have any impact.