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Transparency in the Field Improves Customer Perceptions of Great Service

In the digital age, providing service in the field is in a constant state of change. Innovators leveraging advancements in mobile technology and more integrated systems are creating omnichannel experiences that track and engage with customers from first touch to post engagement feedback loops. New business are being built around emerging technical capabilities and setting customer expectations at new levels. Uber is the most prominent but definitely not alone in redefining how today’s consumer expects to be served by the brands they engage with.

Today’s connected world makes meeting these new expectations vitally important. Social media can give disgruntled customers a virtual megaphone to spread their gripes across cyberspace. Also, switching costs are low as the same products and services can be acquired through multiple digital channels. New Voice media conducted a study that found that 49% of consumers switched vendors due to poor customer service. This number increases for 24-34 year olds where 62% of consumers have switched to another business because of subpar customer service. Younger consumers are much more experience oriented and less loyal to a particular brand. This generation has grown up with much greater customer information and control and to be successful in the future brands need to meet their elevated expectations.

Creating great customer experience is becoming the best way to differentiate in this interconnected world. Poor service will just drive customers away.

Customers hate to wait or do they…..?

Two of the biggest factors leading to poor service in the field service segment is clients waiting for service providers to arrive and not having them be on time. Trimble’s Field Service Index found that 51% of customers said that their biggest frustration is failure of technicians to show up on schedule. Customers get frustrated because their time has value. Another study conducted by CSG found that 89% of respondents were willing to pay more for shorter time windows.

While there is much data that shows that customers don’t like to wait, in many cases this is unavoidable. Examining additional data and digging a little deeper it may not be the waiting that drives frustration but service providers not respecting customer’s time? Another study by Forrester found that 73% of consumers say valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good customer service. While respecting customers’ time is always a good idea, the perception that service providers respect customers’ time may be even more important. Yet another study conducted by Harvard Business School asserts that customer satisfaction is based on transparency and letting your customer see that you are working on their behalf. The study showed that customers who waited longer for results from a web search that scoured travel options but were shown the process of sifting through different possibilities were more satisfied than the ones that saw nothing and waited a shorter amount of time. Essentially the customers that observed the computer working for them were more satisfied than the ones that did not.

Field Service platforms need to provide real-time transparency to enable customers to view the process and status of service calls to meet the growing expectations of discerning digital customers and compete in today’s service economy.

How to be transparent

Glympse’s field service platform is helping service operations set and maintain customer expectations in real time so customers know they are working hard to meet and exceed their expectations. The platform helps service providers be as transparent as possible throughout the process in six phases of the engagement. With this strategy, Glympse has helped their clients rise their Net Promoter Score (NPS) by a much as 14 points.

Making an appointment is the first step in the field service process and the first opportunity to set expectations and perceptions. Once a date has been set, immediately sending an email confirmation and laying out all the information that they will receive and in what format is key. This not only helps customers get prepared, it shows that you have already started working on the problem the minuet that you schedule the appointment.

Finding out your customers preferred communications channel, SMS, voice, email or a Myaccount app is also important to show you respect your customer’s time. By learning how your customer wishes to communicate you are signaling that you don’t expect them to adopt your workflows but will accommodate theirs. Enabling customer to integrate the appointment on their digital calendar with a simple click of a button also shows you are thinking about how they can save time.

With the number of engagement channels constantly growing, establishing an optimal line of communication also reduces the chance that notifications get overlooked. By effectively leveraging the right channel to push notifications, brands can also provide links to more information in a more passive and engaging interface to deliver more information and greater transparency. Even if you provide a wealth of information, if the customer can’t find it you will not be perceived as transparent. By providing a web based interface users also don’t have to be bothered with downloading an application.

Providing an ETA or an arrival time window only once in the process is not going to cut it. Customers need to be constantly updated and ETA’s need to be accurate. By pulling location data from in-vehicle GPS, agent’s phones, sensors or Field Service apps, combined with and accurate the customer’s geo coded address, precise ETAs can be calculated continuously. Integrating various internal systems and field service apps into your calculations also enables technicians, managers or other parties to provide inputs that might affect ETAs. Not only do ETAs need to be accurate they need to be actionable. If a situation comes up that significantly changes the ETA, customers need to be notified.

Creating a two way communications channel or web experience where technician and customer can engage directly to share updates and schedule changes can provide another level of transparency . This is also a good place to provide details about the technician. By providing a common space for the technician to engage with the customer not only enables exchange of details or status updates it also lets the customer know there is an actual person who is assigned to them and is working hard to get through jobs in their queue to make the appointment on time.

Last-mile visibility with map view and real-time ETA provides even greater transparency that tracks the technician traveling to the customers address and plots it on a digital map. Just visually seeing the technician making incremental progress can provide the customer the assurance that work is being done on their behalf. With a virtual doorbell that alerts the customer when the technician is at the door not only shows the customer last steps of the journey but provides greater security.

A final way to show customers that you respect their time is to ask them if you met their expectations. This way you not only show that you care but can capture data on ways to improve the experience.

Transparency also improves operations

Transparency not only creates the perception that a service provide is not wasting customers’ time it also can also improve operational efficiency. When customers can track the service rep and is confident with the ETA, they are much less likely to waste the reps time by skipping the appointment. Glympse found that the greater transparency provided by their app reduced failed calls due to customers not at home by 10%. By providing details and information to the customer before the visit also enables them to be prepared when the rep arrives reducing time wasted by the technician.

Customers in today economy have high expectations and field service operations need to make sure that customers know that they are working hard to meet these expectations. Respecting customers’ time and making sure that they know it is key. Greater transparency can provide that perception. It can also help improve operations.