Original article by Julio Hartstein
For years, a major business attitude was about the power of your “brand”. This can be a huge factor and can assist in overcoming some of the obstacles businesses might face; executives were often tasked with “protecting the brand”. In recent years, though, research has shown that the value of the relationships you hold with your customers might be much more important than “your brand”.
We know these things logically:
- You can’t run a field service organisation without customers.
- You want to make sure customers become return customers.
- You want to also attract new customers.
How do you ensure your customers are repeat customers and how do you attract these new customers, though?
The big concepts: Surprise and delight
There are thousands of books published every year on customer satisfaction, retention, acquisition and customer experience strategies. Most of them come down to two core actions executed in different ways:
In the field service management space, adopting both mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies can lead to both of these actions. Consider these examples:
- You check with customers on one of their devices before they contact you about it.
- On service calls, come prepared with all the necessary parts.
- Rather than handing a customer several documents to sign, they can sign on your phone with their thumbs.
All these examples are of such a nature that field service customers wouldn’t necessarily expect based on previous interactions with other field service organisations, but you can stand out from the crowd and provide better services by device monitoring (IoT), inventory management (mobile) and accounting and invoices (mobile).
When you design any process that will require direct face-to-face customer interaction, you need to find ways to surprise and delight them. Those are the two most important parts in ensuring your customers come back for more.
The role of emotion
A Harvard Business Review article on “the new science of consumer behaviour” is of the opinion that there are 10 behaviours that drive a customer’s surprise and delight across a wide variety of industries:
Notice that 40% of the list starts with the word “feel” and that the most aspects on the list revolve around standing out from the crowd, having a sense of well-being, having a sense of freedom, being the person you want to be, feeling secure and succeeding in life. These all relate not to the product itself, but what the product can actually do for the person.
In short, you may think field service management is a process-and-logistics-driven organisational environment; but when dealing with customers, you still need a degree of emotion and “feeling” to make them want to keep doing business with you.
Some business leaders even believe that companies don’t sell products and services – it sells better versions of the people and companies who buy their products or services.
As a result, think in terms of this question when you plan processes and ideas:
- How is my field service management organisation going to make a customer’s life better?
- The answers to that question should be the core of your marketing, sales and operations plans.
What other tips have you been successful with, even at the granular home visit or field appointment level? We’d love to know more so we can build on this.