“Uberization” is the flavor of the season, and is entering almost all industries fast. As early as 2014, a CSG study revealed a whopping 89% field service customers desiring an “Uber-like” tool that provides them with the exact location and arrival time of the technician. About 70% of customers also wanted the technician’s name and photo.
However, field service providers haven’t been able to match the pent-up demand in a way Uber has achieved for taxi hire and Airbnb has done for accommodations.
Here are the key considerations to embrace in the roadmap towards Uberization of field service for the enterprise.
Customer satisfaction is the undisputed top metric for field service providers. Field service providers have no option but to fine tune or overhaul their processes to meet the fast-changing customer demands.
A key dimension of customer satisfaction in today’s world where instant gratification is the norm is the speed of service. More than 60% of customers are put-off by long wait times between field service appointment booking and the actual service. Today’s customers seek speedy resolutions, and in today’s age of tech neutrality, the speed of service is poised to be the key differentiator between firms.
Merely offering visibility into whether the technician is at any given point of time is not enough. It doesn’t help if the customer is made aware the technician is slacking, or help up at one place for hours on end. The challenge before service providers is to optimize or balance field service team schedule to best meet business and customer demands.
With greater transparency comes great responsibility. The deployment of automatic bots which analyses the nearest available technician with the appropriate skills or expertise for the job in question, and factoring in hours on the fly, leaves and other considerations, to assign the best technician who can attend to the service call at the earliest possible time, helps in a big way.
Siloed communications tools and data repositories still rule the roost in many field service management enterprises, with ad-hocism still in vogue to integrate various facets of operations.
Customers expect service providers to adopt the latest innovative and cutting-edge field service management software solutions. However, most field service providers invariably play catch-up with technology. There is still considerable opacity with regards to the status or the particulars of the field service technician. Likewise, booking an appointment is not entirely a smooth process in many enterprises, though great strides have been made compared to before.
Field service providers are now forced to embrace a quantum leap in technology, considering Uber has raised the bar for customer expectations significantly.
Smart enterprises give priority to streamlined communications when opting for a technology upgrade. Streamlined communications spare customers from wasting their time waiting for the technician. Live tracking of an engineer’s location is already commonplace. Today’s customers demand more, with many of them wanting direct and live communication with their field service representative. As such service providers who offer live Information about service timing, location of the technician, the name and particulars of the assigned technicians, and more stand to gain a significant competitive advantage over their competitors who do not offer such options, or offer inferior options.
Very few of today’s customers have the patience to take valuable time away from work, waiting for a technician to arrive. They would rather call someone else who is readily available, or at least not renew the contract when the time comes.
The onus is on field service providers to not just make the booking process simpler, but make it available across a plethora of channels, such as mobile, web, and phone-based booking
An important point to consider is one size does not fit all. Customer preference and experience vary by region, making the task of optimizing business processes to match customer expectations very difficult. For instance, in an area where internet coverage or penetration is low, assuming everyone will prefer downloading an app and book appointments through it is akin to shooting oneself in the foot. Success depends on sanitizing global solutions to local preferences.
One dimension of “Uberization” getting non-professionals to rent out their property or services, as Uber and Airbnb has done successfully. The success of such a model, however, depends on developing and providing in-house exclusive community and infrastructure upfront, where others can “plug and play.” This is a far difficult business proposition in field services field service industry, where skill sets, experience and even familiarity with the customer matters a lot. Rather than offer a tool to connect independent-contractor technicians with customers, field service enterprises need to develop a system to connect their customers with the right technician, under their own brand umbrella.
Field service providers would do well to emulate Uber’s original value proposition when it started out. Uber did not start out as a platform to get customers into the back seat of any car that happened to be in the vicinity. It rather was a service designed exclusively as a black car service, pricier than an ordinary taxi. Uber’s value proposition was a slick and easy app for appointments, ratings, and payments, which was way convenient, reliable, and cost-effective compared to using the yellow pages or relying on a dispatcher. Field service providers would do well to take inspiration from such a business model. They need to identify the value proposition they offer, be it in terms of exclusive service, premium service, or anything else, and then roll out intuitive customer-friendly apps which facilitate fast, easy, and seamless transactions.
Facilitating the customer’s demand for increased convenience through a more on-demand experience is not easy. It requires an overhaul of the field service backend systems and even fine-tuning operations, to achieve seamless sync among disparate systems which power these operations. Done right, it delivers unprecedented customer satisfaction, which in turn enhances the value of the brand manifold.