We all know how important it is to provide a great customer service experience. But Service Techs can’t be everywhere at one time or know every repair sequence off the top of their head, so sometimes we need to rely on tools. Working globally with SAP Customer Experience Solutions (formerly known as SAP C/4HANA Suite), we implement tech to enable customer service and field service teams to help their customers more efficiently. There are five major trends that are changing the way these teams do business right now. If you haven’t considered implementing these yet, your competitor might be, so here’s your opportunity to jump ahead.
How Field Service Teams Are Improving the Customer Experience
Firstly, What Does Customer Experience Mean?
Before we dive in, here’s a quick refresher on the switch from ‘customer service’ to ‘customer experience’. We use customer experience (CX), or client experience, to cover everything that customer service once did. However, the difference is that we don’t just mean when customers or clients reach out to request help, it’s when help comes proactively from the other side too. In fact, it’s about improving every interaction your customers have with your business, whether that interaction is with people or technology. Previously, the mission of our clients was to simply solve support tickets faster, but now, it’s to provide the best all-round experience, because everything contributes to customer loyalty and customer engagement.
1. Customers Are Serving Themselves
Virtually all of our clients want to enable their customers to serve themselves. This has obvious cost-reduction benefits, but if this isn’t done right, then there’s a big of risk frustrating your customers and sending a message that you don’t care. One way to provide self-service without alienating customers is to implement a well-designed chatbot. Chatbots can run on your website, mobile app, kiosks, or even on chat apps that your customers already know and use, like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Modern chatbots use a technology called natural language processing (NLP) to understand what people mean when requests are written as complete sentences. Instead of being restricted to using pre-chosen keywords and buttons, on some of the best-developed chatbots, customers can communicate as they would with a real person in the support team. These chatbots use machine-learning to develop their understanding of language over time. This means that the more interactions you encourage, the better your chatbot will become at understanding and serving customers.
Another benefit of chatbots over human support staff is that customers don’t have to communicate verbally or write everything down. Instead of making customers find and recite a long serial number, manufacturers are now placing QR codes on their products. The customer scans the QR code using the camera on their phone, which tells the chatbot the ID number. If the chatbot is integrated with a platform like SAP Service Cloud, it can perform what we call a service request in real-time. The bot accesses the manufacturer’s service schedule, suggests times to the customer, and books the chosen option automatically.
When implemented correctly, a system like this captures all the data the manufacturer needs and records in a service ticket, with no risk of human error, and without long waits on hold for the customer. The field service technician or service manager receives the ticket, which contains all the customer information already, as well as optional info the customer can submit, such as photos, comments, or answers selected from a drop-down menu. With all the relevant information in one place, the service manager doesn’t need to look anything up.
2. Scheduling and Repair Planning Are Happening Automatically
Great service managers understand the unique skills of each of their technicians like no other, and can rapidly match jobs with their availability, and their location. But we all have our limits, and repetitive tasks aren’t that fulfilling. To free up staff for more challenging and rewarding tasks, service teams are now using artificial intelligence (AI) software to automatically assign technicians to jobs, based on each technician’s capacity, certifications, availability, and location.
As well as scheduling, the software can even diagnose the most likely fault and recommend placement parts for the technician to take before they make their way to the customer. By using software powered by AI, and connecting it to your existing knowledge base, or the reports of your repairs, your system can learn which symptoms indicate which fault. With AI giving your technicians a head-start, they can complete jobs in less time.
3. Dispatch Is Being Done on Mobile Devices
Dispatch doesn’t have to be done on a desktop all of the time. Modern service platforms are mobile-ready, allowing service managers to dispatch technicians even when they’re on the road themselves. If time is important, this can be a crucial step in getting field techs out to the site as soon as possible. Mobile apps are also allowing field service technicians to perform installation, maintenance, and repair tasks remotely without carrying cumbersome and fragile laptops with them. With products like SAP Service Cloud, knowledge bases and ticket information can be stored in the cloud and downloaded to a mobile device before the technician leaves. So, if they’re going to an area with no wireless coverage, all the information they need is still accessible.
4. Service Requests Are Being Crowd-Sourced
Imagine you’re an HVAC manufacturer and one of your owners needs a service. You have a huge network of distributors around the country, how do you find one that’s close to the customer but still available today?
With crowd-servicing, you can post your service offer to a platform so all repair partners can be notified automatically, and at the same time too. Jobs can then be quickly assigned to the first qualifying party that responds.
5. Tech Is Predicting Malfunctions before They Occur
Predictive analytics is beginning to play a big role in field service. With Wi-Fi connected sensors, your machines can automatically transmit performance data to a central location. With all sensor data stored in one place, and recorded in real-time, your systems can learn when faults are likely to occur and automatically issue warnings. This allows you to maintain perfect product servicing, extending your product life cycles, improving sustainability, and preventing costly malfunctions.
Where to Next?
The technology available to service teams is changing rapidly, and the implementations vary greatly by industry. Our experts can easily advise what is possible for your scenario and provide recommendations. To learn how you could transform your team and provide seamless customer service:
download our solution brief to SAP Field Service Management