Studying the Customer Experience feedback for companies that utilize a field service delivery model reveals some interesting insights. The most interesting of which is the importance of the field engineer. The impact of their performance comes not only from their technical ability to perform the install or repair task, but also their ability to interact with clients. When you consider that your field engineer may be the only face-to-face contact that your customers have with an employee of your company you can understand why their customer experience (CX) skills have such an impact on the overall CX.
#1: You only get one chance to make a great (in-person) first impression; nail it!
The customer has already dealt with a sales person, and they’ve worked with someone to schedule installation, but when the technician arrives at their home or business the interaction is much more crucial than I expected: while the installation is taking place, the technician becomes the face of your company. How did they present themselves? Are they respectful of my home or workplace? Did they answer my questions? The experience your customer has with their technician can mold their opinion about your company, and these opinions tend to stick.
Recommendation- Impress upon your field service team that they are the crucial final link in a delivery chain and that their work in the field significantly impacts how customers rate the overall experience (and be sure to keep this in mind when hiring new employees).
#2: Show up on time and with the equipment needed to do the work.
These sound obvious, but even our most CX-oriented clients struggle in these areas. As the technician (literally) has boots on the ground, they are responsible for managing the customer’s expectations if they are late, if they don’t have the equipment the customer requested, or if circumstances unique to the customer’s home/business makes install more difficult than expected. The amount of difficulty or “effort” the customer experiences during the installation process ties directly to their likelihood to recommend your company; i.e. your company’s Net Promoter Score. A seamless process is more likely to generate Promoters and any problems experienced during the process has a substantial negative effect on their likelihood to recommend your company. All the good sentiment built by marketing, a smooth sales process, and anticipation of a great new service can be destroyed by a disappointing or effortful install process.
2a. Data shows that great personal interactions during repair and maintenance contribute significantly to customer’s likelihood to renew their contracts.
Maintenance, resupply, and repair visits represent great opportunities for your company to create a stronger relationship, and a chance for one of your talented employees to go above and beyond the customer’s expectations. We have seen with several clients the customers who rated technicians to be helpful and excellent at solving problems were more likely to renew their contract; to these customers, the technician is a differentiator with regards to how they rated their Customer Experience.
Recommendation– It is worth the time and money to make your scheduling as smooth as possible: give your techs the ability to give upcoming appointments a status update, or employ a scheduling team to do so. Invest in GPS, tablet, or apps to help when possible.
P.S.- Measuring the customer’s effort to initiate service also includes the time following the engineer’s departure. Does the customer have the right training and materials to use their new service? If they can’t get up and running quickly you are not likely to earn a 9 or 10 on your NPS survey.
#3: Don’t make promises you can’t keep (AKA do what you said you would do).
Survey data shows that a key breakdown in communication occurs between field services and other departments. Customers will ask the field engineer for more information about the product or service; when field service team members say that “they will have someone contact you,” and then the call does not occur, this breakdown in communication creates a very negative customer sentiment.
It is not field engineers job to pass messages to other departments but in the customer’ mind everyone works for the same company. A communication breakdown creates a frustrated end-user.
Recommendation- Improve inter-departmental communication capabilities so the Field techs can direct requests to the right departments like billing, sales and customer service.
Because interaction between the engineer and the customer has such a large impact on NPS and customer experience, it is essential for field service companies to monitor and to measure these interactions. You probably aren’t surprised to hear that we think a Customer Experience Management solution is the best way to accomplish this; customers answering short surveys provides a critical feedback loop to see where your team can improve and to recognize where your process works well and your employees are already doing great work.