Thought leadership

Customer service is widely recognised as being the number one business priority with a proven link between customer satisfaction, retention and profitability. Indeed, Aberdeen Group recently reported that organisations that reached a 90% plus customer satisfaction rate achieved an annual 6.1% in service growth, 3.7% growth in overall revenue and an 89% level of customer retention.[1] With approximately 78% of UK GDP derived from the services sector[2], customer service is becoming increasingly recognised as a strategic issue and, according to the Institute of Customer Service, if organisations do not include it in the boardroom then some of those businesses won’t be around in the longer term.

The growing importance of customer service

Tom Gorman, president of opXL, LLC and a field service expert believes that the goal of field service excellence is to respond quickly to customer needs, whatever they may be and it takes four criteria to meet this goal: Be on time; allow enough time to do the job; have the right skills; and bring the right equipment.

The most common customer complaint is when a technician does not resolve the issue first time. This may be due to not having the right part or tools, not having the right skills or not enough time to complete the job[3]. Considering 25% of service calls require a follow-up visit, the result of not achieving a first-time fix can be detrimental. Indeed, Aberdeen Group report that companies not meeting a 50% first-time fix rate and requiring a return visit reported revenues dropping by nearly 3%.

As a result, more organisations are beginning to realise the value of ‘intelligent scheduling’ – incorporating technician knowledge, parts availability, and capacity into their scheduling processes to ensure that the technician arriving on site is the person who can resolve the customer’s issue first time. Businesses can address the challenge of making better in-day decisions by utilising a work management self-learning tool. To avoid large data set-up exercises of skill sets and work areas, a self-learning tool supports the assignment of work orders to the field technicians by remembering who has the right skills and their usual work areas. Aberdeen’s research found that the Best-in-Class (the top 20%) performers had mean success ratios of 92% for meeting response or project completion deadlines and 88% for first-time fixes.

What matters most to customers?

According to The Institute of Customer Service, there are five key areas which matter most to customers:

·        Am I dealing with people who are professional? Do they connect with me? Are they approachable?

·        How easy is the business to do business with?

·        Does the product or service do what it says?

·        Problem resolution – how are any issues resolved? This isn’t always about the outcome but also the way I am treated in this process.

·        Timeliness – is more meaningful when I get what I want when it suits me.

The strategic importance of the field service worker

The role of the field service operative has changed over recent years; shifting from one of operational necessity to strategic significance. Why this change? Because with the rise in use of automated booking systems, for example, and with the growing trend of machine to machine (M2M) capability allowing applications to provide preventative and predictive analytics, the field technician’s visit to the customer may be the first and only exposure a customer has to the company’s brand and service delivery.

“The biggest change we’ve seen in customer service,” Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service explains, “is the move from a transactional economy to the relationship economy where value lies in one-to-one interactions and service leaders prevail in the marketplace. A ‘personalised service for many’ and a dialogue approach, as opposed to the traditional monologue, is now desired. This power shift has come about, partly due to technology and the rise of social media, but also because you and I, as customers, want to be much more engaged in the customer experience.”

Looking ahead, demand for staff who have desirable attitudes and attributes for customer service will increase.[4]

Who owns the customer experience?

According to the Institute of Customer Service, having somebody on the board who has overall responsibility for the customer experience is essential and that somebody needs to be the CEO. The customer service strategy is integral to the business strategy and having somebody who leads on that is critical.

For more information on customer service and expert opinion into how it is transforming the field service landscape, download our complimentary report, ‘Transforming Service Delivery: An Insight Report’, via the following link


[1] Aberdeen State of Service Management Outlook report for 2013

[2] Institute of Customer Service, Customer service in the UK ǀ a review of 2013 and predictions for 2014

[3] Aberdeen Field Service Workforce Management Report, 2013

[4] Institute of Customer Service, Customer service in the UK ǀ a review of 2013 and predictions for 2014

John Cameron is general manager of Trimble FSM 

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