According to Gartner, customer experience is now the key competitive differentiator for businesses. This is also true for field service organizations. Multiple touch points throughout the field service customer journey—which are often handled through a myriad of systems and silos—can lead to a fractured customer experience.

Field service management (FSM) software can help organizations pull together the areas of the organization that are often segmented to provide a more comprehensive customer experience.

This is supported by Gartner analyst Jim Robinson, who in a 2017 report predicted that by 2020, 70 percent of field service organizations will “cite customer satisfaction as a primary benefit derived from implementing field service management software.” (Research available to clients.)

However, businesses on the cusp of investing in field service software have a tendency to prioritize cost over how the software can help them achieve their business objectives and a good customer experience.

Thinking about field service software selection with cost as the central criterion will lead to software deployments devoid of real business value and unable to deliver on priorities, such as providing a good customer experience, because they won’t be getting the features they need to deliver it.

Businesses need to identify the areas of their organization that are affecting the delivery of a good customer experience—such as first-time fix rates—and align software investments accordingly. In this article, we’ll go through how many of the features of FSM software can help support your organization in creating a good customer experience, including:

  • Prioritizing mobile technician enablement over costs
  • Three FSM features that enhance the customer experience
  • Looking past costs to focus on the customer.

Prioritizing mobile technician enablement over costs

Businesses are concerned with software costs, especially as the final cost of any software implementation project can often be higher than previously thought. However, with companies wasting an average of 37 percent of their software spend (an estimated $30 billion in the United States alone), consideration for exactly why this is happening is crucial.

No field service organization is created equal: Field service management as a concept encompasses a wide variety of industries, all of which have unique business requirements and priorities.

FSM software isn’t created as a one-size-fits-all solution. Businesses that treat FSM software as such risk wasting choosing an inappropriate solution that could waste a significant portion of their software budget.

Instead, field service businesses should have clearly defined business goals and weighted priorities—such as customer experience—which they use to qualify their software choice.

However, Gartner says that mobile technician enablement is a crucial facet of any field service solution:

Gartner believes that organizations that do not provide technicians with a rich and intuitive mobile solution will quickly fall behind leading organizations.

This includes capabilities such as access to work history, job knowledge, and the ability to contact other technicians. In fact, Gartner recommends that during the software evaluation phase, organizations need to dedicate time to evaluate the mobile capability of the solution.

We recommend considering the following questions before selecting a field service management solution:

An image of the questions you should ask before selecting a field service management software solution

3 FSM features that enhance the customer experience

We’ve taken the top three solutions in our Category Leader ranking for field service management and identified three features that can help organizations provide a stellar customer experience. The solutions selected also have mobile app availability.

Note: These field service management tools are intended to provide readers with an example of features only and are not an endorsement.

HouseCall Pro: Online booking

Housecall Pro is a field service management solution with online booking functionality, allowing your customers to schedule appointments. Customers are able to select the service they require, choose a time slot, and enter their address details—the system will then assign a technician to fulfill their request.

Online booking in Housecall Pro

Online booking in Housecall Pro (Source)

ServiceTrade Commercial: Service Portal

ServiceTrade Commercial is a field service management tool with a dedicated online self-service portal, designed to provide customers with easy access to their service history and allow them to preview upcoming appointments.

Customers can also request service appointments through the service portal, which is linked directly to dispatchers that can schedule technicians to jobs. Upcoming appointment listings also detail what technicians plan to do on specific jobs.

Customers can also view detailed information relating to their service history, including job documentation such as photographs, videos, and paperwork within the service portal.

ServiceTrade Commercial's 'Service Portal'

ServiceTrade Commercial’s “Service Portal” (Source)

Jobber: Client hub

Jobber‘s field service management tool includes a client hub, an online self-service that allows customers to access their service records, invoices, and appointments.

Within the hub, customers can check invoice statuses and make direct payments, and all changes are updated and reflected in real time. Customers can also schedule new appointments by submitting a new work request, which is then answered with either a quote or a scheduled technician appointment. Customers can then approve or request changes to quotes within the client hub.

Jobber's 'Client Hub'

Jobber’s “Client Hub” (Source)

Looking past costs to focus on the customer

Field service organizations with mobile workforces have to balance the cost of service delivery with customer satisfaction. Yet, prioritizing software costs over the customer experience will lead businesses down a murky path of wasted software spend and dwindling customer satisfaction.

Although the delivery of the customer experience is far larger than just software, customers still expect the industry to keep up with the hypermobile nature of the world, and expect service delivery and customer service in real time. When selecting a software vendor, businesses should make their choice based on how well the vendor understands their business goals, especially the customer experience.

To look past cost when selecting a field service management solution, you should:

  • Ask vendors to provide you with case studies or customer stories so that you can see how they’ve solved similar issues.
  • Focus on dedicated field service solutions that are specifically designed for the mobile workforce.
  • Work with the vendor to make sure you’re paying only for the features you require.

METHODOLOGY:

The apps chosen in the article all feature in the Q4 Category Leader ranking for Field Service Management. They each have an average user rating of at least four stars and at least 100 reviews on GetApp.