26 May Make field service digital and easy with these key insights
Manufacturers have an additional source of revenue not all industries can claim: field service. In fact, 75 percent of decision-makers at organizations with field service say it drives a significant portion of their revenue. But the key to making field service a long-lasting and strategic revenue channel is making field service digital and easy for customers to interact with. And it’s not always pivoting a traditionally very in-person, hands-on service into, well, not. But digital field service can save your agents’ time, reduce organizational costs, and boost the bottom line when done correctly.
Based on our experience with clients in the manufacturing space, we’ve noticed five key insights that best prepare organizations for digital field service and a more cohesive customer journey: proactive service, self-service based on customer feedback, remote options, partnerships, and service as a revenue center. Let’s dive into each facet:
Make proactive service your agents’ standard
The first foundational step to making digital field service a reality is instilling a culture of proactive service with your agents. This means your reps are actively looking to solve problems before the customer even notices them rather than only addressing surprise issues or troubleshooting on the spot. This doesn’t mean never going on-site to resolve requests, but it means agents go into every job with an eye toward the future: what was the last maintenance check date on this equipment, and how are the replacement parts functioning?
Coupled with a single source of truth for customer data—something that combines ERP, CRM, and any other relevant data platforms—the proactive approach empowers agents to anticipate needs and visualize potential future issues so the team can prepare solutions in advance. Ultimately, this makes the customer journey much more circular and brings cost-effective benefits to the organization at large.
Use customer feedback to build up self-serve functionality
Another powerful way to transform your organization for digital field service is to channel direct customer feedback into a robust self-service system. What information are customers most frequently searching for? What guides or questions do they want answers for? With or without a self-service portal in place, 81 percent of customers will attempt to solve issues on their own before making any direct contact with the company. If you can provide the answers and self-servicing so they’re on standby and ready for searching customers, you’ll boost customer loyalty and satisfaction instantly.
These self-service portals can also serve to feed information to virtual appointment assistants or troubleshooting chatbots. By constantly building up this library of common customer problems and solutions, you’re giving your digital field service tools more information to provide more accurate, timely solutions to customers. Integrated with your CRM and ERP, these virtual assistants can also provide customers with personalized service history and agreement information upon request.
Develop remote assistance options
While in-person visits still certainly play a role in your field service, digital field service does naturally eliminate the need for many onsite resolutions in favor of faster (and more effective) remote assistance options. Manufacturers are beginning to employ virtual assistants with AR, robots, and video conferencing, which gets solutions to the users faster and eliminates the need for pricier onsite visits. Robots and AR can provide step-by-step and intuitive guides for machine troubleshooting. Customers are happier to have a response if not a complete solution faster and the organization is better positioned to thrive with agents that have more time to be proactive rather than chasing service requests by car.
Champion strong partnerships to further support customers
Another critical path to pave the way for digital field service is supporting your partners to complete the end customer’s experience with assistance at every step. In manufacturing, you likely work with an abundance of suppliers and contractors who are all ultimately serving the same end customers. A great field service experience with one partner is great, but it can be quickly overshadowed if an associated partner provides different information or subpar assistance in comparison. Share your digital field strategy with relevant partners, and empower them with the customer and asset data they need to make the customer experience pleasant and cohesive no matter which partner is servicing them. Customers can tell when partners are working in unison, and it’s a major sales uplift for all brands involved.
Change your perspective: Service as a revenue center
Finally, digital field service in manufacturing won’t truly succeed until the company culture around service changes. Service can be a critical revenue channel and not just an obligatory customer department. Between warranties, service contract subscriptions, and cross-sell or up-sell opportunities, the service lifecycle has many avenues for generating revenue with existing customers. Additionally, when service is seen as a priority revenue center within manufacturing organizations, it’s easier to acquire the department budget to support innovations like AI and machine learning for field service to use data more strategically, such as to replenish parts in the inventory more proactively.
If you’re looking for guidance and firsthand consulting experience elevating your field service team, look no further. Simplus has worked with countless manufacturers to transform their cloud strategy for optimal customer outreach and complete visibility. Learn more today.