Making Field Service Your ‘Promise Engine’
When consumers sign up for a service contract, a question lingers in the back of their minds: “Will this company be able to keep its service commitment for the money this contract costs?” The reality is that some firms are great at marketing, some are great at service, and some are great at both.
From a sales perspective, it is important to know that your marketing aligns with your ability to execute. One of the most frustrating elements of running sales for a field service organization is not having the key information needed to market and sell to new customers, to turn field service into a “promise engine.”
A major gap for many field service organizations is having the right set of key performance indicators (KPIs) established to become the foundation for marketing and sales teams. When creating these KPIs, you should keep in mind these four decision points for the buyers of your service:
- What is the response time from when I identify a problem?
- What type of proof do you have that your response time is believable?
- How long will it take for you to identify and fix my issue?
- How can I be comfortable that the issue is going to be resolved the first time, every time?
There is no better sales enablement than having irrefutable proof of your execution. But having these data points is only possible with the right platform, people, and process.
When it comes to field service, CRM does not happen in a vacuum. This type of specialized solution is very dependent on the ability to integrate to back-office systems. If your employees do not have access to the right information or the parts needed to resolve an issue, satisfying the contract becomes impossible.
The framework needed to have the ability to put your best foot forward is your CRM platform. In the past, many organizations used separate solutions for sales and service, with the service component an extension of an enterprise resource planning solution. As technology has evolved, CRM platforms have proven to be the superior platform for running field service.
The barrier to using field-service-driven CRM solutions has been the slow movement of data between the front and back office. But current platforms are able to push transactional data bidirectionally in near real time. This means that with the right implementation team, it’s possible to design systems that provide key data on parts and people and connect them to the problem (the service ticket).
In addition, integration provides crucial data for purchasing and replenishment to keep technicians stocked with the parts they need to resolve the most common customer issues. More importantly, having detailed information on failed components enables product managers to solve quality concerns with vendors.
Assuming that you have conquered the integration needs, these three areas can ensure field service success:
- Process. Based on varying levels of needs and priorities, your chosen framework should have flexible and robust processes.
- Skills and scheduling. Once a customer issue is identified, having the ability to know who can fix the issue and optimizing their route to resolve it quickly will make for happier customers and employees.
- Exception management. No matter how effective your systems and processes are, breakdowns are inevitable, and so how you report and assess those breakdowns to prevent future incidents is critical.
If you now have the framework and the proper systems and reporting, the last milestone in making your field service solution your promise engine comes down to execution. And execution is often as simple as having the right people with the right information in the right place.
Modern CRM field service solutions excel at leveraging mobile hardware with offline capabilities that are easy to use. The information available to field technicians needs to be robust and accurate, transactions need to be seamless, and employees need to have a high level of confidence in the platform.
With field service, day-to-day success comes down to having the fewest obstacles placed between workers and what they are trained to do, whether it’s dispatchers or technicians or service reps dealing directly with customers. History has shown that if your field service solution becomes your promise engine, customers will return for more and bigger contracts.
Danny Estrada is the founder of E Squared, a management consulting firm focused on sales team performance, and has been a CRM practitioner for the past 20 years. As a practice leader, he has guided teams through the implementation and development cycles of more than 500 CRM projects. He is author of the Practical CRM blog and has served as a keynote speaker for companies such as Salesforce, Microsoft, SAP, and Sage, discussing real-world application of CRM concepts. Estrada also holds an executive MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.