No one’s ever doubted the value of investing in customizable software. The control allowed to a business when something’s created to fit its specific needs can lead to massive gains in terms of efficiency and value. It’s the main reason why custom-made tools are still in demand, despite the development and maintenance costs associated.
However, when field service specialists assess a potential tool, whilst they do pay attention to the customization potential, they can often limit their research to admin-facing screens. This begs the question: What about customer experience? Sure, we’re already used to customization tags which allow us to write “Dear James” rather than “Dear customer” in our emails and other such details, but with more flexible software, the overall experience a customer has can be greatly improved.
For example, consider the challenges of the “new normal”. Are customers able to tell how seriously your company is taking their safety from your deeds, rather than words alone? Whilst no software we know comes with a “Global Crisis” feature, the way to weather novel challenges is to remain flexible and prepare so you can be ready to go above and beyond for a remarkable customer experience. If you can manage to offer the latter, even in difficult circumstances, you’ll have earned yourself loyal fans – which, according to research, are worth their weight in gold.
So, what exactly are these benefits your field service customers will be gaining? How will they keep them coming back to your business? What features should be customizable, but rarely are? Keep on reading to find out!
1. Pre-job and post-job reports will ensure your technicians are always providing a premium service.
Consistency is essential when a company wants to claim they provide a premium service. Hiring technicians for their soft skills certainly plays a role if you’re committed to making customers happy, but what happens when simple human error can downgrade your service and lead to negative reviews?
For example, a tired technician can easily forget to offer recommendations for best use practices after installing a new pump, leaving the customer with no idea that they need to plug in the pump often and clean the inlet every 3 months. No wonder it breaks down less than half a year later and your business reputation takes the fall in the customer’s mind, since they’ll blame you for either not installing it properly (even though you did!) or for not telling them how to take care of the pump.
A post-job form can easily remedy this, just like a pre-job form takes care of the age-old problem of techs not taking their shoes off. No wonder it’s a feature that many field service software offer. However, when reaching the best one for you, keep in mind the level of form customization you need. Check if you can have pre-set templates linked to specific jobs, customer types, or even individual technicians. This can eliminate a whole lot of admin work, all whilst allowing you to continue offering your customers a remarkable experience.
At the same time, how customizable are these forms exactly? Make sure to check if you can design your own, whether that’s according to state legislation or personal vision, and if there’s a cost associated with them: and we don’t just mean money. If you find yourself having to wait for weeks for a provider to create a COVID-19 specific form so that customers feel safe and technicians take the right precautions, you can easily disappoint clients, as well as employees.
2. Custom workflows improve admin efficiency and create a frictionless customer journey.
A customer journey is different from a customer experience. When it comes to the latter, it’s not you who decides if the experience was a positive or a negative one – that’s up to the customer – but what you can do is create journeys that help to move the customer through a positive narrative, therefore increasing the odds of a positive experience.
Whether it’s the journey of booking a job, processing a payment, or meeting the technician on-site, each of these touchpoints can lead them to have a good or bad experience of your business. Eliminating the friction from these individual journeys (e.g. via an automatic booking portal or payment link) is what pushes the customer experience to assign a “positive” value to their experience.
At the same time, a workflow also supports your admin team by taking over their more repetitive tasks, thanks to automation. As a result, a good workflow frees them up to handle high-value activities that require human creativity and acumen.
Now, a workflow in and of itself is nothing new. Having a feedback-request email go out automatically when an invoice is paid is a workflow. So is sending a reminder when the terms of an invoice are breached, as is sending another one two days after to let the customer know they’re going to inquire a penalty; and it can be extended in other ways. It’s important to keep in mind other use-cases as workflows are excellent, but not infallible. With the right input though, the level of customization you can input is really going to push your field service business into the premium company tier.
3. Automated portals fulfil the latest customer expectations.
Whether you specialize in B2B contracts or work more with residential customers, the fact of the matter is that the decision maker will always have their own expectations of what good service looks like. These expectations will have been shaped by every other company they interact with, whether it’s a field service one or not.
For example, when a customer wants to book a job with your technicians, they expect a booking process similar to any other they’ve encountered. Perhaps a little strangely, this means that your competition is not another plumbing or HVAC business, but mammoth companies like Booking.com or OpenTable. Because they’re created awesome booking journeys for their customers, they’ve set a standard that customers expect elsewhere. The same goes for payments or after-sales care.
A few years back, this was the kind of problem that involved website redesigns and expensive coding experts, but that’s not the case anymore. Depending on how in-tune your software solution is with the end-customer’s experience, you can easily activate features—sometimes called online portals—that can mimic the processes found on other websites.
Booking an appointment is the easiest to picture, although the same applies for payment or quoting portals: instead of having a contact form or (worse!) just a telephone number, a good field service scheduling software will offer you the option of embedding a booking portal on your website. If customers booking themselves in without help from your admin sounds like a recipe for chaos, make sure your management software uses intelligent scheduling algorithms to calculate the best appointment slots, all in accordance with your existing schedule. This makes booking a breeze both for the customer and for your admin.
4. Job management customization.
We’ve mentioned pre and post-job forms as a perfect helping hand to field employees who want to deliver a consistent, premium service for every job. However, each field service business has different requirements, in addition to government-mandated forms specific to their individual industry. Therefore, having the ability to customize forms is paramount to running an efficient business that can adapt to challenges. For example, it can easily become a race between you and the competition to see who can make customers feel safe to receive techs. As mentioned a COVID-19 specific safety form can be a great help, unless it takes 6 – 8 weeks to develop and implement one.
Another problem is when you create templates for many types of forms, it can become difficult to find specific ones or organize them using your current software, so a good level of filter customization should also be there to help you.
At the same time, techs usually go out to appointments in pairs so, technically, both would have to complete a form in order to mark the job as done in their system. However, asking the customer to sign for both, or have the techs to fill in the same information is redundant (and can even muddle your data entry) and so it hardly makes for an impressive experience for anyone.
Each and every one of these small issues adds another speed bump to your customer journey and to your business’ growth. They may not look like much at first – small inconveniences – but they add up over time, leading to whole hours wasted each week on tasks that could easily be avoided by choosing a more flexible solution. Depending on the level of customization your job management software allows, all these issues can be smoothed out with a flexible job description feature.
The takeaway on customizable management software and the trickle-down benefits for customer experience
An essential aspect of assessing the usefulness of your existing digital tools is to think about how they make life easier for the people you employ. At the same time, a great business leader will always keep in mind that these solutions also need to have a positive impact on the end-customer.
Whether it’s ensuring safety or smoothing out speed bumps that hurt their overall experience, each interaction that a customer has with your business is a journey and, at the end of the day, making every journey feel world-class should be every business’ goal.