Article

Smart Field Service

Connecting customers, assets and employees

The nature of the field service is changing. The importance of a field visit in establishing and growing a successful customer relationship is increasingly vital. At the same time, the tasks traditionally performed by field force can now be better delivered remotely, supported by increased asset connectivity and artificial intelligence. The focus is shifting – from running an efficient operation to delivering outstanding customer experience, increasing customer loyalty and driving service-based sales. This report looks at the new field service eco-system – aligning the business to support the field technician in having the most important conversation between the business and the customer.

Overview

In the digital world, emotional connection makes a difference between customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

In a world where customers increasingly choose digital channels to interact with the businesses, the opportunity to have a human conversation is rare. Customer interactions migrate to digital channels, and are supported by artificial intelligence solutions. Digital is often the experience that customers prefer, and businesses find cost effective and easy to manage. 

Digital meets reality in a human interaction. The human touchpoints of the customer journey disproportionately affect brand perception and loyalty, and can make or break a customer relationship. As customers prefer to purchase and experience products and services in the comfort of their homes, a field visit often becomes the only human interaction between the customer and the business. A field technician can achieve something that artificial intelligence tools are incapable of – empathy and emotional connection. It is the emotional connection that can take a customer interaction from satisfactory to delightful. 

The importance of a field visit in establishing and growing a successful customer relationship is increasingly vital.

Field visits are becoming the main human touch-point, taking the business to the customer. It is an opportunity to build strong customer relationships and grow customer lifetime value.

As the connectivity of devices and customers is increasing, the nature of the field service is changing. 

Increased asset connectivity means that some of the core tasks that have been traditionally performed by a field-based workforce – such as asset maintenance and data collection, and assessment of the state of the asset – no longer need to be delivered by a field engineer. Machine-to-machine communications enable more frequent, remote and automated data collection.

Advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence solutions enable a model of predictive asset maintenance; where the probability of fault can be detected before it happens. Maintenance tasks can be performed remotely, and in those cases requiring a field visit, the decision to intervene is automated.

The focus in the field is shifting from the installation and maintenance of physical assets to delivering differentiated customer experiences. Businesses expect more from their field operations –it is about growing customer lifetime value as well as efficiency.

However, this critical moment of the customer journey is frequently overlooked. The success of a field visit is still often measured by how effectively and quickly an installation or repair of a physical device is performed – not by the quality of the customer experience.

As the field technician is entering the customer’s home or business premises, he or she needs to be trained, equipped and supported to have the most important conversation between the business and the customer.

Getting this right requires a customer-centric, emotionally intelligent field force backed up by the power of technical and customer insight accessible within instant reach.

Key takeaways

Turn your field force into customer service agents: focussed on delivering outstanding customer experiences and growing customer lifetime value

Tailor field experiences to the customer needs and preferences, by making information on customer persona, available service offerings and on-going campaigns accessible on the technician’s mobile device

Recruit and train your field force to be customer-centric

Create the right experience for the field technician, by turning their van into a mobile office where they can truly feel a part of the company

Reduce reliance on the field for asset maintenance and repairs, using sensor data, artificial intelligence and automation tools to detect and resolve faults remotely

Trigger the right field service interventions when required, supported by automated faults triage

Create insight hubs supporting your field force: both asset and customer data collected remotely and supported by advanced analytics and artificial intelligence allows making better decisions at the centre and making them instantly available to the entire field force

Deloitte Expert Viewpoint

• “Field service is becoming a part of an inter-connected eco-system of customer service.”

• “The increased reliability of assets shifts the commercial focus from selling an asset and a maintenance contract to continually generating value-add services.”

• “Your most technically advanced people are best placed outside of the field, in centralised insight hubs, solving complex technical problems and generating insight that can be made accessible to everyone in the field.”

• “Emotional intelligence is becoming a core competency of a field technician.”

• “Creating the right experiences for your field technicians is essential in delivering the delightful experiences for your customers.”

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