In today’s customer-centric marketplace, B2C field service (FS) organizations face growing expectations for quicker resolutions, shorter arrival times and a better overall customer experience.
To ensure they meet these challenges, Gartner predicts that by 2021, more than 50% of B2C FS organizations will rely on applications or technologies from small field service management providers.
While the basic concept of field service is the same for both B2B and B2C organizations – to resolve the customer’s problems as quickly and thoroughly as possible – there are several significant differences to note.
B2B vs. B2C – Differing expectations
With B2B field services, a positive support experience is usually built on long-term business relationships with multiple people at different levels of both companies.
With B2C field services, a positive support experience is dependent on the customer’s perspective regarding a single interaction with a single technician.
These differing viewpoints impact a number of factors that field service organizations must consider as they develop their strategy and choose the supporting field service technology.
Flexibility on time
Businesses are generally open during normal business hours, which allows for a wider service window opportunity or flexibility with changing appointment times.
Consumers must take time from their personal schedules (losing work time, etc.) while waiting at home for a technician. Arriving during the allotted time slot is non-negotiable, and minimizing the service window is critical for a better experience.
Level of technician expertise
Oftentimes, businesses have onsite IT personnel and are likely to be more knowledgeable about the product, only calling a technician when the issue is complex and requires an expert.
B2C FS organizations generally have a high volume of dispatches that are often quite simple to resolve, resulting in a lower barrier for entry for the technicians.
Service type: proactive vs reactive
B2B contracts often come hand-in-hand with after-sales support or proactive maintenance SLAs. With B2C customers, a service call is initiated only when the customer contacts the company with an issue — and are often demanding in their need for urgent service.
Risk of churn due to bad experience
For business customers, replacing a service provider is an enormous undertaking. They will work hard to choose the right partner and be more tolerant when something goes wrong.
End consumers are less tolerant of sub-par service and much more likely to churn based on a single bad experience. (some may even publicize their experience on social media, causing additional damage).
Key Field Service Technologies
With those differences in mind, there are a number of emerging field service solutions that aim to address the end consumers’ needs.
Messaging apps – moving to your customer’s preferred channel
With the number of global mobile phone users expected to pass the five billion mark by 2019, B2C customers are easy to reach. Field service organizations can capitalize on this accessibility by utilizing mobile messaging apps for easy and quick communication with customers. As most personal communication has already moved to chat apps, and B2C communication is following suit (led by platforms such as Facebook chat), innovative B2C FS organizations should adopt this technology as well.
Chatbots – automating basic communication for better engagement
For simple interaction, chatbots are a powerful way to keep your customers updated (“your tech is 30 minutes away”) or respond to simple requests “Can I reschedule?” or ”Where is my technician now?”
Real-time availability via chatbots go a long way in providing convenience to the consumer.
Post-service surveys & reporting – listening to the voice of the customer
The ease of use and scale of chatbots and messaging apps represent an opportunity to listen to your customer. Getting feedback immediately after a technician visit via a simple, quick, automated interface can help organizations better understand their customers. This tool enables organizations to optimize their service, enhancing what works and changing what does not.
Remote Visual Support – ensuring the issue is fixed the first time
Visual Support represents the usage of a visual communication channel – live video, recorded video, photo stream or photo chat messaging – by a service organization in order to facilitate issue resolution.
A preliminary visual review of the required service using the technology allows the technician to be apprised of the situation in advance. This enables the FS technician to prepare properly for the dispatch, arriving at the job fully prepared with the right equipment and parts.
In the event that the technician encounters a complicated scenario and needs expert assistance in the field, the technology enables the technician to receive remote support from the expert via augmented reality, eliminating the need for a follow-up visit.
Geo-location apps – saving valuable customer time
The ability to track the field technician’s location in real-time allows B2C organizations to provide a narrower service window and to deliver updates in the event of a delay, both of which reduces wasted time for consumers and improves their experience.
Field services can rise to the B2C Challenge
Regardless of the industry a business is operating in, top-notch field support should be a priority. Recognizing that consumers require a different service approach than businesses, field service management must step into their customers’ shoes and understand their needs, fears and emotions, and tailor the field service experience accordingly. Tapping into the technological innovations that are becoming a must-have for consumers in today’s always connected mobile world, consumer-facing field service organizations should explore relevant technologies that can help them successfully achieve an enhanced customer experience.