Field Service and the Importance of Customer Satisfaction

Posted by Rachael Pullen on December 12, 2012

So last week my washing machine broke down. I called the company who advised me an engineer would be with me the next day -great. The engineer would be with me “sometime in the morning, between 8am and 1pm” which meant I had to take half days leave from work – something I really could do without in the run up to Christmas. The engineer arrived and looked at the machine and promptly advised me that he didn’t have the part that was required to fix the machine and he would have to come back another day. As the customer, I am left having to take more time out of my busy life and I am still left with a washing machine that doesn’t work and a mountain of dirty laundry!

Then whilst I was discussing this with a friend, she told me that the same thing had happened to her recently, but what a contrast – the company advised her that the engineer would be with her between 2pm – 4pm and would contact her when he was en route. He arrived, had the correct part for the job and within 30 minutes her machine was working. This got me thinking about the importance of customer satisfaction within the field service industry – just how important is it?

The answer is that in today’s competitive market customer satisfaction is key. It is now noted as one of the primary objectives for a field service organisation. Customers, like me, have higher expectations than ever before and therefore maintaining loyalty is difficult, particularly in an environment where customers are no longer loyal to a particular brand.

In this social media age, where word of mouth feedback reaches millions with the touch of a button on Facebook or Twitter, just how do field service organisations ensure that they maintain customer satisfaction and meet the ever growing expectations?

If a field service organisation looks at the key issues affecting customer satisfaction they can often improve these factors with technology – transforming the mundane and often frustrating customer experience into a social one with real time information and updates. The organisation can distinguish themselves from their competitors and not only maintain their customers but attract new ones.

In a recent survey conducted by Service Management and Trimble, 88% of the companies surveyed stated that the biggest customer complaint is not being notified of delays. This is no surprise; what could be more frustrating than waiting endlessly for an engineer to fix something that you just want working with the minimum fuss?

Improving customer satisfaction has also become a significant driver in technology investments for service organisations and is now a real differentiator. In the survey, 86% of companies interviewed were intending to invest in technology to improve their field service operations.

So how can you increase customer satisfaction by improving the appointment booking experience?

Think about how customers would react to being offered an appointment that could be scheduled within 2 hour time slots instead of the standard 4-6 hour window. What if you could provide customers with updates via mobile phone or tablet to keep them informed about engineer arrival times or delivery delays? What if technologies could give you real time feedback on customer satisfaction and allow you to deal with issues swiftly? There can be little doubt that the customer experience can only be improved by these measures, as well as creating the impression of a service organisation keeping pace with the radical changes in consumer behaviour and technology. The way forward is clear – field service organisations who don’t embrace this trend and invest in technology to improve customer service will be left behind in an already competitive market place.

As for my washing machine, it is now working, so no excuses for that laundry pile any more. I just wish that an experience which, for me, was already a headache and an inconvenience, could have been made that bit more bearable by my service provider seeing the situation from my perspective.