Total Experience in Field Service: What It Is, and How to Optimize It

Until recently, successful field service management (FSM) was about keeping the customer happy. Now, it’s about keeping everyone happy.

That was the industry backdrop for a webinar that Field Technologies Online recently hosted with CSG’s Jim Hare and Buckeye Broadband’s Matt Karcher, who discussed trends in field service and how to create more efficiency. In case you missed “Optimize Total Experience by Overcoming These FSM Challenges,” we’ll give you highlights here.

Karcher is the Workplace Performance Manager at Buckeye Broadband, which uses CSG Field Service Management to serve more than 166,000 subscribers in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. Hare is Vice President and General Manager, Field Service Management at CSG, and from that vantage point he summarized the dominating trends in FSM.

 

TRENDS IN FSM

Companies are shifting their focus in FSM from pure customer experience (CX) to total experience (TX), which as a strategy that combines customer, employee and user experience. Hare gave this example of what TX means:

That’s why businesses are adopting a more “fluid set of communications capabilities,” he added. For example, FSM platforms are automating communications from technicians to customers, including real-time notifications and GPS locations that give customers a heads-up that they’re on their way.

The second major trend is the aging tech workforce, which will pressure companies to train up younger techs faster. (Hare explains this challenge in depth in his recent blog post on modernizing field service management.)

Lastly, companies are relying on more customer self-installs—dropping off the consumer equipment and walking customers through DIY installation using remote visual support tools.

“We’re seeing a lot of transition in the way that companies are delivering services and communicating those services,” Hare said.

 

3 KEY STRATEGIC THEMES

Hare summed up the central challenge facing field service operations today:

Companies like Amazon have turned up the pressure on other industries, such that consumers expect same-day service or delivery, and “it’s amazing how quick this whole [field service] industry has transitioned,” he added.

The ways field service organizations are addressing that challenge can be boiled down to three key strategic themes:

  1. Optimization—Doing more with less, or taking on more jobs and customers without hiring additional resources. Routing and scheduling automation are the main driver for improving efficiency in field service.
  2. Journey Transformation—Making drive time predictable, as FSM combines both real-time traffic and historical traffic data. This capability has allowed field service organizations to condense their customers’ service windows from five hours down to just one or two.
  3. Monetization—Leveraging the field service organization to get incremental revenue. This means enabling techs to offer unique products, or cross-sell upsell other services.

Buckeye Broadband adopted these strategies to provide a better total experience, and Karcher offered examples during the webinar.

 

BUCKEYE’S PATH TO OPTIMIZATION

Buckeye began optimization and journey transformation in 2016, when they converted to CSG’s Field Service Management solution.

CSG FSM allowed Buckeye to:

  • Handle more jobs per day with a lower tech head count
  • Reduce inbound phone calls to field operations by 60 percent
  • Achieve 97 percent job completion rate

“Overall, I would say [CSG FSM] has been great for us,” Karcher said. “It’s really helped us as far as being efficient and having a happy workforce.”

As for monetizing their field service operations, Buckeye plans to enable their technicians to sell in the field using their handheld device. “This definitely is a positive, and for multiple reasons,” Karcher said:

  1. The customer wouldn’t have to schedule another appointment (reduces inbound calls)
  2. The tech wouldn’t have to call in for another tech to perform the new service (reduces truck rolls)
  3. Techs could earn commission on the sales they could process while on-site.

Buckeye also monetizes their field service operations with a separate team of experts called “Brainiacs”—a general tech support service like Best Buy’s Geek Squad. Field service operations can add capabilities and business models that turn what is traditionally a cost center into a revenue generator.

 

ADAPTING THE FSM BUSINESS MODEL

To close, Hare reiterated the central challenge in FSM: keeping up with rising customer expectations while contending with shrinking budgets. “How do you adapt your business to this incredibly fast moving environment?” he asked, then offered three answers:

 

1. Invest in an automated solution to reduce costs

“You can’t run these systems manually anymore—there has to be automation on the back end. You’ve got to have data that flows from the very inception of the client, and all of that communication, it just flows all the way through the system out to everybody in your organization so everybody’s empowered to service the customer.

“Make sure your field service technicians have full access to all of that data, and that you’re communicating these things to the customer, as well. And you want to do that in an automated fashion so you don’t drop the ball. You don’t want a human being responsible for communicating, because if they don’t, it’s going to impact your customer satisfaction.”

 

2. Focus on the total experience

“It’s everybody in the organization—not just your customer—it’s everybody in the organization [who needs to be] informed. The last thing you want to hear when you call one of your providers is they say, ‘Not my department, call a different number,’ right?

“Everybody should be empowered to be able to service the customer or to personally hand them off to the organization that can service the customer. So it’s not just about simple experience of your consumer, your end user. It’s about the total experience across the entire organization, especially your field service organization who tend to be the liaison to your customer. The field service tech is often the only person [from your company] that your customer will ever meet, so to make sure that they’re fully equipped with every piece of knowledge that they need, and the ability to communicate that to your customer is absolutely critical.”

 

3. Monetize your workforce

You also can leverage your existing resources, your existing workforce, to upsell other solutions. Other strategies can be implemented to drive incremental revenue, empowering your field service organization to also sell and upsell various solutions that can drive incremental revenue into your organization.”

Total experience is just one of the FSM concepts companies must master to stay competitive in the next five years. Find out about the others by reading the essential Gartner report, The Future of Field Service Management.

To see the entire webinar with Hare and Karcher, you can click here.

CSG

CSG

CSG Insights Team