Service Delivery in the Age of Customer Experience
By Mark Cattini, CEO, ClickSoftware
Over the past 10 years, there has been a major shift in the area of customer service. The expectations of customers are increasing, and delighting customers is the de facto standard. Research shows that 65% of consumers find that a positive experience with a brand is more influential than great advertising. The shift has accelerated as companies like Uber and Amazon have introduced new business models and redefined customer experience. Even industries that don’t traditionally differentiate on customer experience now find themselves forced to play catch up.
Agility and innovation
In order to improve service levels, while continuing to increase operational efficiency, under these new business conditions field service organisations must maintain a high level of business agility. In other words, field service teams should be able to quickly respond to changing environments, satisfy customers with continuous service delivery, and measure the impact. From a management perspective, decisions must be strategically aligned in order to meet business imperatives like service costs and SLA compliance.
Service organisations must rapidly respond to change and uncertainty. One way to ensure business agility is through constant innovation. There are dozens of examples of former industry leaders that have failed due to a lack of continuous innovation. Kodak, Blackberry, JCPenney, and Blockbuster are just a few household names that did not heed the direction of the market and subsequently paid the price. While details around each example are unique, the one commonality is that none of these companies successfully maintained their innovation or agility. By contrast, Amazon has been called ‘one of the most agile firms on the planet,’ which is a cornerstone of its winning business model.
There are plenty of reasons why companies fail to innovate, and one of the most significant is a reluctance to embrace change. Change management is a vital element for most businesses to keep pace with the latest trends helping them to gain a competitive edge. Without a proper change management framework in place, businesses who are facing a transformation will not experience the buy-in they need.
In the field service industry, there are two critical objectives companies need to keep sight of in order to succeed:
- Efficiency – ensuring the right resources with the right skills and parts are at the right place at the right time
- Effectiveness – guaranteeing a first-time fix in order to deliver a positive customer experience at the point of service
In my experience, companies that keep these objectives at the forefront are the ones delivering the greatest customer experiences. But the challenge some companies face is how to measure their impact.
The importance of measurement
‘You respect what you inspect’’ – This is a popular adage that is proven over and over again. The fact is, if your company can identify the key indicators of performance for the company and establish a baseline, they can be measured and improved.
Of course, one effective way to learn if your company is delivering on customer experience is simply asking the customer. According to customer service and experience expert, Shep Hyken, brief surveys are an ideal way to solicit feedback. They allow customers to quickly provide honest, valuable feedback immediately after the service call while the visit is still fresh in the customer’s mind.
Capturing other indicators is important in order to understand the whole picture. Even without direct feedback from customers, business leaders can watch other metrics and make inferences about whether customers are satisfied. Some indicators — retention, renewals, upsells — will signal a job well done. Missed appointments, multiple visits for one repair, and long appointment windows are going to result in unhappy customers — even if they’re not telling you so.
Customer experience is undoubtedly crucial to all service businesses. But of course, not all companies can be number one in their field. Rather than seeking perfection, companies that strive for consistency, predictability and keeping promises will likely deliver great customer experiences. As long as service meets or exceeds expectations, your customer experience might just be world class.