It seems like field service management is going the way of more technology and less human connections. In some instances, it’s for the better. Think of ways field service automation has decreased many of the manual processes that have to be done daily. Technicians are spending less time doing administrative work, and back office staff have many of their processes automated. Field service management software has been a great tool to push the industry forward and opened plenty of new doors and opportunities.

However, a real focus today is on the customer experience. Customer care has changed drastically with the emergence of new technology, and it’s leaving some customers feeling out of touch with their service providers. Often, it’s suggested that with new technology, customers don’t have to sit on hold as they wait to request service. Instead, they have plenty of ways to request service and have work orders created automatically. But there is still something about speaking to a real person that builds confidence. It makes your customers feel like their concerns are being heard.

That’s why it should come as no surprise that customer service is one of the top skills looked for in technicians when hiring. Because for every moment a person is connecting with another person, it has to be the best experience and top-level care possible.

Customer Care is Changing with Field Service Management Technology

Service requests used to be fairly basic. Pick up the phone, call your provider and schedule service over the phone. Because of that, call centers became normal, as the massive influx of calls needed to be handled, without long hold times. An angry customer who has to wait even longer isn’t going to be pleasant on the phone. And they have more time to think of taking their service elsewhere.

Today, there is an average of eight customer engagement channels supported by organizations according to Ventana Research. Technology has made it so that no longer is the phone the only source, or even primary contact point, for field service organizations. Today, the options include:

  • Customer portals
  • QR codes
  • Specific emails
  • Chatbots
  • Machine learning applications
  • Social media
  • Internet of Things
  • Automated phone systems with dial pad options
  • Mobile messaging

According to the Customer Engagement Center, by 2022, 70 percent of customer interactions will involve an emerging technology. And the majority of those technologies don’t have a human element to it. It’s a system designed to automate much of the process as possible, reduce expenses in areas like the call centers, and speed up service times.

It’s expected by 2022 that 20 percent of all customer service interactions will be completely handled by Artificial Intelligence, an increase of 400 percent from 2018. With field service management software being the platform of choice for many in the industry, more organizations are taking the opportunity to automate and integrate systems that will reduce the amount of time customers spend trying to communicate. Instead, they are providing avenues for speedy service requests as we move towards a more on-demand world.

How Field Service Management is Responding

With field service organizations turning to technology to automate their processes, there are outcomes that are helping customer engagement. Office staff are more productive because of less handling time of customer requests. On-boarding new staff and subcontractors is happening faster. And response times have increased, which improves customer satisfaction. Field service management software has added valuable time back to personnel in the business, who can now spend greater time on customer care.

The issue is, customers are feeling like field service is losing the human-touch. Seventy-four percent of customers want more human interaction in support, with 59 percent believing companies are losing the human touch, according to Price Waterhouse Survey. Chatbots can’t give the same empathy to a situation, nor can then diagnose a complex situation. So how is field service management responding to the issues of technology and customer care? By using technology to help with customer care.

The same field service management software that is automating processes is also giving technicians greater access. From their mobile device, technicians now have complete access to service history, repair notes, inventory and quoting tools. With field service mobile apps, it’s like they are carrying the entire organization in their pocket. Because of that, they can provide faster service in the field, increasing their first-time fix rates. When a customer requests additional service, they can provide a quote on the spot, rather than having to send the quote request back through the proper channels.

Technicians are the front line of every field service organization, even more so now that customers are having less human interaction elsewhere in the service cycle. By giving them tools to communicate, research and gather information, they are becoming the customer care that call center agents and back office staff were before.

Keep the Focus on Customer Care

Customer service is now taking a firm grasp over the field service landscape. So much so, that when new technicians are hired, those with outstanding customer service are being hired, even at the expense of repair experience. That’s because with technology, better service history, and training methods, wrench skills can be taught. Customer service skills, however, are not as easily taught and some people are just better working with customers than before.

A field service management software gives field service organizations the chance to hire for those softer skills, such as customer service and sales. Field service software is allowing service groups to offer faster processes and automate much of their business. But they can still offer a level of customer service that will keep the focus on their customers and give them a great experience.

For those worried about losing the human-touch in field service, the truth is, it is just as important as ever, if not more. Customers demand more, and their expectations of what service is continues to grow. Field service management software is a way to meet that demand, while continuing to focus on great service and exceptional customer service simultaneously.