It seems every week there is another article discussing how this is the Age of the Customer, detailing all the ways in which the customer experience matters more than ever before. It’s not that customer service wasn’t a thing, it’s that how a customer received and felt about that service or experience was not as highly publicized.
The ubiquity of social media changed all that, and for the better. Today, customers have access to more information than at any other point in history. (Technically, that is true each subsequent day, considering we produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily.) So, while this is the Age of the Customer, we are also in the Information Age.
With all this information at their fingertips, your customers research you before you even know they exist. Here, we take a look at differing opinions on what it takes to improve the customer experience. Then, I tie it all back to what I believe is the one thing you need to do to improve your field service customer experience.
Be Open to Learning from Customers, Rather than Expecting Perfection
In an article from Field Technologies Online, Fail Forward: Mastering Customer Experience Doesn’t Mean Expecting Perfection, editor in chief Sarah Nicastro discusses how perfection is not the goal of a great customer experience. She argues what matters more than anything else is learning how to fulfill customer needs and manage failure effectively. Instilling a culture of learning from failure isn’t the only point she conveys, though. She includes an excerpt from the Gartner report, Is Your Organization Customer Centric, where the near-incessant focus on the customer and their feedback—actively listening to what your customers have to say—is part of the overall process.
Real-Time Customer Experience Analytics Are Your Best Friend
Another perspective on the customer experience is the article from Forbes, How to Improve Customer Experiences with Real-Time Analytics. Filled with insightful statistics from the Harvard Business Review conducted study, Real-Time Analytics: The Key To Unlocking Customer Insights & Driving The Customer Experience, the crux of the article centers on the premise that today’s consumer expects their experience will be personalized because the sheer volume of data, buying habits and patterns of any given customer makes it possible.
Pulled from the Forbes article, the following graphic depicts the growing importance analytics have today versus two years from now.
The roadmap at the end of the article is one of the most interesting takeaways I’ve read recently, in regard to improving the customer service experience. In particular is number six:
Innovating around the customer using data from products thanks to sensor & IoT technologies and usage stats from cloud-based apps (Voice of the Product) and Voice of the Customer programs are how market leaders course-correct roadmaps and continue growing retention, loyalty, and revenues relying on analytics to deliver new, valuable insights.
Such Voice of the Customer programs are akin to feedback mechanisms, which ties back to the previous Field Technologies Online article.
Know the Impact of Your Company’s Voice on the Customer Experience
Similar to the Forbes piece, Bill Pollock’s article in Field Technologies Online discusses the voice of the organization playing an important role in customer experience, stating:
However, in recent years, an organization’s ‘face’ may no longer be merely visual. In fact, what has historically been the service provider’s ‘face’ is increasingly being transformed into a ‘voice’ – and that voice doesn’t even have to be a human voice anymore as a result of the forthcoming proliferation of AI-powered chatbots.
Leverage Customer Experience Feedback at Every Opportunity
Finally, CIO contributor Otto Berkes’ Digitally Remastered column and opinion piece, Ensuring Your Customer Feedback Looks are Built to Change, reinforces the notion that, at least in the realm of SaaS technology, feedback mechanisms are critical to developing a successful, useful product. At the end of the day, the service customers receive is just as important as the experience they have with your software.
So, What is the One Thing You Need to Do to Improve Your Field Service Customer Experience?
At the start of this article, I said I would tie this all back into the one thing I believe you need to do to improve your field service customer experience. That thing: Communicate, communicate and communicate. All the feedback mechanisms and learning from failure programs in the world won’t matter if you don’t communicate.
It may seem overly simplistic, but of all the customer experience strategies mentioned in these articles, communication is the heart and soul of any great improvement plan. You may be shaking your head saying you already communicate with your customers. You may even think you currently run the risk of over-communicating, which is a thing by the way. There are a few key tactics you can employ to better communicate with your customers.
3 Key Tactics to Employ to Better Communicate with Your Customers
It’s easy to get into the trap of thinking only about more traditional forms of communication, such as email or phone. With the proliferation of mobile devices, social media and chat bots, the methods by which you can keep in touch with your customers spans the gamut today.
If you aren’t already employing these methods, below are just 3 other key ways you should consider communicating with your customers:
#1: Automated alerts or notifications
Depending on the technology you offer, sending automated alerts or notifications in real-time is one of the quickest ways to level-up your customer service experience. This is particularly true for field service organizations where sending technician status updates helps customers to better plan their day and keeps operations managers apprised of what’s happening in the field.
#2: Text message
At this point in time this may seem unprofessional or inappropriate, but it’s quickly becoming a preferred method of communicating with customers due to the real-time nature of this type of communication medium. For instance, in the HR/talent acquisition space, today’s recruiters actively communicate with potential candidates via text messaging, along with email.
#3: Social Media
As mentioned, social media is ubiquitous. Those folks who said 5-10 years ago they’d never join social media, if they aren’t rethinking their strategy, have already joined one channel or another. Leveraging social media is a necessity for most businesses today that rely on public reviews to fuel their sales. Being able to dialogue on social keeps your public relations program in-check, while also demonstrating you pay attention and are more than a logo; you have caring people behind your brand.
Really, you should employ whatever method or methods it takes to ensure your customers are top of mind. You have to make your customer feel like they are the only person on Earth, that their issue is your issue and that you will work tirelessly to solve it and solve it better than anyone else can. Get that right and you’re almost golden. All you need now is a way to thank them, which is a topic for another post.
In the next article, we’ll explore how to take these ideas and transform your field service business processes or workflows to improve your field service customer experience.
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