It’s 2 pm on Thursday, and you’ve been waiting 3 hours for a service technician to arrive at your home to fix a broken internet modem. You’ve got two kids to pick up from school and take to soccer practice, groceries to buy for dinner, and a proposal to write up for a potential client. You don’t have the time or patience to wait around, hoping the cable technician will arrive shortly. You want to know when they will arrive, and when the job is done correctly.
The way large service companies communicate with customers is problematic. Quite frankly, the lack of effective, responsive communication destroys customer satisfaction and trust.
So how do service companies rectify this long-standing detrimental trend? One way is investing time and precious budget into customer service technology to orchestrate field services, match the right job with the right resources with the right skills, and schedule appointments and dispatch field techs. But because most service companies are very low-margin businesses, executives often prefer to cut as much cost as possible while also claiming they strive to provide a good customer experience and focus on customer satisfaction. Budgets are tight, and the technology and service needed to better orchestrate and communicate may be complex, but trust the customer, it’s all worth it.
Earlier this year, Salesforce launched Field Service Lightning, a Service Cloud offering that focuses on managing external (in the field) customer services, complementing the in-bound customer service that a company’s contact center traditionally handles. Field Service Lightning’s objective is to make the intake and organization of service requests, issues, and cases from customers easier to process and effectively assign the right technicians with the needed skills and location to perform those services.
There are several components to Salesforce’s Field Service Lightning:
These are all great capabilities that will undoubtedly help companies with field service organizations improve efficiency and ultimately service delivery. But what about customer engagement?
For example, let’s say you are on vacation and service is needed on the exterior of your home (maybe a broken solar panel system). You may wonder: Was the service done? When was it done? Was it completed? Was there an issue? When are they going to come back? What was the problem? Customer Engagement is probably the most critical part of all! Wouldn’t that 4-hour service window be so much more tolerable if you received a notification during the window that your tech will arrive in the next 30 minutes?
A well thought out customer service engagement strategy starts with personalization. Engaging with customers on their preferred channel goes a very long way towards effectiveness of the communication and customer satisfaction. A well thought out and designed Preference Management system is key to the service engagement strategy. Companies should ask how customers wish to receive information, notifications, and communication: Phone call? Text message? Facebook message? And who else should receive these notifications? Spouse? Sibling? Neighbor? Babysitter? Preference Management is essential, giving the customer the choice on how they’d like to be reached. It allows customers and their inner network to understand what’s going on, so they feel secure with the service. As a result, providers are proving they are considerate, recognizing that a customer’s time is extremely valuable.
When the status of a particular case is changed from scheduled to dispatch or from dispatched to completed, an outbound notification can be triggered, based on Preference Management, to the customer to say, “Hi, this is ABC Company, your tech is on the way!” or “Hi, this is ABC Company, your service has been completed successfully. Please take a short survey and let us know how we did!” Simple, yet powerful in the context of service!
Notifications are great, but they aren’t enough in all situations. For example, going back to the example of waiting for the tech to replace a broken internet modem. Let’s say the mom waiting at home gets a call from school because her daughter is sick and needs to come home immediately. Now the mom has multiple problems, and the Internet provider does now too… The mom is going to leave to pick up her daughter, and the tech may arrive as she is away from home. The mom will need to reschedule, but the Internet Provider just wasted time and money sending a tech to a location where the service will be cancelled and rescheduled. This a common situation, and one that can be resolved by providing the customer with an easy way to reach out to the company in real time to notify them of an issue with the appointment. What if the customer received a text message that said: “Hi, this is ABC Company, your appointment for service has been schedule for Thursday between 1-4pm. If you need to reach us, just reply to this message. Thanks!” And what if the customer received another message that said: “Hi, this is ABC Company, your tech is on the way and will arrive in the next 30 minutes. If there is an issue with this appointment time, reply back now. Thanks!” These “in the moment” communications give customers more freedom to go about their daily routines and the company a way to avoid unfortunate reschedules and wasting of resource time. A win-win.
While these intelligent communication solutions are not a part of Field Service Lightning, they can be accomplished using capabilities of other Service Cloud features and applications and should be considered in each and every Field Service Lightning implementation!
Notifying customers with real-time updates on service and potential problems is a fundamental aspect of satisfaction which directly influences customer retention. This ability to enhance communication is incredibly powerful, allowing service providers and customers to communicate easily in real-time and increase operational efficiency. But remember, service is all about the customer!