According to research conducted by Gartner, customer effort is the “strongest driver to customer loyalty”. In other words, the harder your customers have to work to get your attention, have devices repaired, purchase new products, the less likely they are to be loyal to your brand. That is why successful field service companies are getting more specific about how they measure their KPIs, and taking into account a new metric: the customer effort score (CES).
Here are the five areas of your customer service business you should be optimizing to ensure customer satisfaction and retention, and a high CES:
1. Be Faster
We’ve all got our tactics for dealing with those long wait times in phone queues. Washing the dishes, making the bed, vacuuming. While our phone is on speaker within safe hearing and reaching distance most likely playing some version of elevator music.
The problem is that malfunctions and breakdowns tend to be acute issues. They disrupt normal business operations and threaten profit margins. Field service providers need to react and respond quickly, ideally in real-time, to customer service requests.
If you provide field services in an industry that is prone to bottlenecks, you might have to consider alternative solutions to ensure that you always have an extensive team of skilled and available technicians on call for such situations. SAP Field Service Management Software, for example, makes it possible to integrate a crowd service solution, which lets you pool and connect your employees, partners, subcontractors, and freelancers. Access to an expansive expert labor force will ensure that you always have someone available to assist your customers.
2. Get it Right the First Time Around
As mentioned, any disruption to service is detrimental to operations and, as such, to customer satisfaction. That is why it is not enough to respond quickly to customer service requests. You also have to respond knowledgeably. Providing your service technicians with all the information they need to perform repairs and maintenance the first time around is critical. With SAP Field Service Management Software, you can ensure that your technicians have access to important customer and device history and data, manuals, checklists, and video tutorials that help them solve whatever the issue might be.
3. Predict Problems Before They Occur
Digitalization has made it possible to anticipate your next service steps with incredible accuracy. Thanks to sensors and IoT connectivity, it has become possible to detect system failures before they occur. By monitoring individual parts and entire machines, service providers can schedule repair and maintenance ahead of catastrophic breakdowns. Averting a problem before it occurs is a surefire way to boost customer satisfaction.
4. Be Accessible Always and Everywhere
The first step to providing service is being available for service requests. Many field service providers understand that their customers want to know they are always available and listening. That is why many now offer their customers multiple communication channels: apps, web platforms, chatbots, social media. These are all excellent tools for interfacing with customers. However, it is essential that service providers cross-reference these channels to gain a comprehensive overview and insight into customer issues and concerns. If you want to offer numerous modes of contact but are unable to ensure consistent messaging, your customers are the ones who will bear the burden. Remember, your customers have neither the time nor the patience to keep repeating their issues to different customer service agents. Furthermore, they expect that promises and offers made on one channel will be honored across all other communication channels.
5. Give Them a Chance to Help Themselves
Many service providers have realized that their customers are more than willing to help themselves if given the opportunity. As such, they are empowering them with self-service tools. And this is becoming increasingly simple and effective as artificial intelligence advances chatbot technology. These automated and dialogue-based platforms make it possible for customers to communicate, assess, and solve technical issues on their own. This not only gives customers increased flexibility and control over their service experience, it also frees up service technicians for more challenging tasks and customer interfacing.
Focusing on these five areas of your customer service operations is a great way to raise your CES. However, don’t forget that your customers know best. When in doubt, go right to the source! Customers not only appreciate when you take their feedback seriously, it will also help you offer the best possible service.