Exceeding customer expectations is not just for enterprise-level companies. Customers are demanding the same level of service performance whether their service provider is a large multinational corporation, or a small, local field service company. But how can SMB service teams compete with their enterprise counterparts in this era of increased competition and empowered customers demanding perfect service?
Recent research from the Aberdeen Group found that trends were emerging among SMBs that have put a roadmap in place to ensure better service. These are their top strategies for driving service:
- Increase the availability of service knowledge in order to diagnose and resolve service issues faster. (51%)
- Develop real-time visibility into field assets (i.e., people, parts, vehicles). (48%)
- Improve forecasting of and planning for future service demand. (41%)
- Invest in mobile tools to provide technicians with better access to information in the field. (38%)
- Develop standardized scheduling processes. (35%)
- Increase frequency of training for field technicians. (32%)
These strategies fall into four main points to help SMBs deliver better service.
Diagnose and deliver
One of the most important metrics for customers is how long a repair will take - or “mean time-to-repair.” This metric shows just how effective the service team is at resolving customer issues. But to fix an issue quickly, engineers must be able to diagnose what’s wrong; determine what they need to fix the problem, including knowledge, the right tools and parts; and figure out the correct procedure to follow. As equipment grows more complex, not every engineer will have the ability to do this “on the fly.” It’s important then to give engineers the tools to quickly identify a problem and understand how to fix it.
Provide real-time visibility of service activities
If there is one top driver for sustained revenue growth in service, it’s executive visibility. Aberdeen’s research has found that having a view into the field helps management, the back office, and the service team react quickly and deliver service at the speed necessary to excel.
No matter how top-notch your engineers, without real-time insights, the field team will still have to scramble to meet fluctuating demands. However, the increase of IoT technology is aiding service teams, by helping them identify problems quickly. But IoT is not yet a widespread reality. Aberdeen found that even in top organizations, only 53% of machinery is IoT-enabled for asset management, tracking, service, and maintenance.
Invest in the right tools and team
As machines and equipment become increasingly complex, service teams need the correct technology to help them solve more difficult issues.
The last piece of the field service puzzle comes down to the engineers themselves. As Aberdeen points out, an SMB can make the leap from paper to mobile, and put the right tech tools in their engineers’ hands, but service teams themselves must be engaged, skilled, and most importantly, incentivized to perform.
What are some concrete steps SMBs can take to ensure a better performing service team? We’ve listed three steps below.
Put a CSO in charge of your SMB field team
Haven’t heard of the term Chief Service Officer? Most SMBs are not yet familiar with this C-Level title that’s only recently started to infiltrate enterprise-level organizations. To ensure service excellence spreads throughout the entire firm, large enterprises are hiring CSOs to ensure that a strategic service vision is carried out, with accountability and incentives put in place across the entire organization.
Train your entire company to value service
Typically, most companies focus on equipment sales. But service should not be an afterthought. At best, customers expect equipment to work flawlessly; at worst, they expect service to know when the machinery or part will fail and solve the issue effortlessly. Service can be an opportunity to drive new revenue opportunities, but only if every team from marketing to sales to service can communicate the value they deliver to customers.
Make real-time visibility your goal
Small field service organizations are investing in technology because they see the benefit of increasing their efficiency and want to understand where they can add further value. However, the goal of investing in technology should be to give your entire firm real-time visibility into field service performance and the customer experience. As customer expectations increase, only companies - both big and small - that provide preemptive service can expect to survive.