What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing customer service department in regards to field service?

Field service is a particular challenge for many service organizations due to the many silos of customer information and the different systems that have to come together to provide a complete and relevant customer experience. What makes field service complex is that often dispatch systems are powered by different technology than what’s being used inside the contact center. To truly deliver connected field service, it’s a big task for the IT department to glue the dispatch system and the general customer service management system together.

Field service technicians are often a company’s greatest service ambassador – they are the individuals that are out there interacting with customers face-to-face every single day. But some companies often don’t view their field service staff in this way, and as a result, don’t empower them with the resources they need to deliver amazing customer experiences. In order to be the best ambassador possible, field technicians need to have the same customer information available to them in the field that the call center agents have on their desktops. This is often referred to as phone to field — information should flow seamlessly from the call center to the field service agent.

It seems like a lot of companies are leaving money on the table with ample opportunities to drive greater efficiency. How does Field Service Lightning help?

In general, it costs a company between $2 to $4 dollars for a person to answer a phone call, but it can cost them over $200 to dispatch a field service truck — that’s almost 100 times more expensive. In order to manage costs, it becomes really important to think strategically and intelligently about how you dispatch. When an agent can see in the agent console where technicians are out in the field they can dispatch more efficiently and save money — that’s what Field Service Lightning provides.

For example, imagine a new call just came in for a customer that needs field service. The agent can quickly identify that a field technician is finishing up a service call only a mile away, and then dispatch that technician using geographical context. It’s clearly more efficient and cost-effective than the alternative, which involves the field technician driving back to the office in order to clear paperwork and receive their next assignment. Mobility is absolutely key for keeping the costs of field service — and the whole customer service department — down, but also in providing a better customer experience. When technicians have the right intelligence at their fingertips, they arrive to a field assignment with the resources and information they need to get the job done right the first time.

As Internet of Things continues to gain traction, what are the implications for field service?

When things are connected and intelligence is applied to those connected things, a lot of diagnostics can be done without dispatching a field service person.

Here’s an example: A lot of service calls that cable companies receive is in regards to simple complications with routers and set-top boxes. These cable companies end up dispatching trucks and technicians when all that really needed to be done was unplug a router and plug it back in. Considering the $200 minimum cost for sending a field service truck, that’s an enormous cost for a simple fix. In an Internet of Things world, that router would be able to talk to the service department and provide its own diagnostics, and then the agent can walk the customer through the necessary steps to fix it without sending a technician, at 100 times less cost.

This is truly a win-win — the customer doesn’t need to wait for an appointment with the technician to get their internet working again, and the business receives huge cost savings in return.

We talk a lot about proactive service as really being the future of customer service. How can companies start taking steps towards delivering proactive service today?

I think the first step is rethinking proactive service as the customer experience. Customer service has been conceived from its inception to deal with problems, but customer experience is a much more layered approach. Customer experience (or what many call proactive service) is thinking about the reasons why a new customer would call, instead of just what to say to them when they do.

Nordstrom is one of the leading customer service companies every year because of the way they think about customer experience from the moment you enter the store, or visit their website, etc. As any person that’s ever bought clothes, particularly online, knows, fit is always a concern. Nordstrom eliminates those concerns by offering in-store tailoring services and shipping the tailored pieces for free. That’s an example of proactive service, but they don’t call it proactive service — it’s all part of the Nordstrom customer experience.

Leaders that are doing customer experience right are thinking through the actions you take as a new customer — like when you get your first bill — and the questions you might have at each step. The top performing customer experience brands are addressing those questions and concerns ahead of time — it can even be as simple as including an FAQ document along with that first bill — that’s proactive service.

Read more: The Future of a Connected Field Technician