What do consumers expect from their field service providers?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 15:10
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In his latest opinion piece for FleetPoint, John Cameron, general manager of Trimble Field Service Management, addresses the results of a research study looking in to their expectations and biggest frustrations when selecting a field service provider

Getting a problem fixed on a first visit is the biggest expectation for UK consumers. Indeed, in Trimble’s study, which surveyed 2000 British adults, over half (52 per cent) considered fixing the problem on the first visit to be the most important factor in determining their satisfaction.

However, field service organisations are struggling to fully achieve this as nearly one in four UK consumers report that a return visit is required. Poor inventory and an inexperienced workforce are the most common reasons for this. 40 per cent of UK consumers complain that their technician did not have the appropriate tools or parts to fix the problem on a first visit whilst 27 per cent said that the technician lacked the skills to complete the job.

Short appointment windows a key factor in customer choice

Long appointment windows and wait times are considered to be one of the nation’s biggest frustrations with using a field service provider. More than 50 per cent considered 1-3 hours to be an acceptable appointment window, yet 36 per cent report experiencing wait times of far longer, in some cases up to eight hours.

By coupling an intelligent scheduling engine with a self-learner tool, field service businesses can look to improve service delivery times through enhanced schedule accuracy, improved productivity and workforce utilisation. The software tool uses a unique algorithm to learn preferences for each technician and will allocate tasks accordingly. This includes which mobile workers normally service particular areas and what skills technicians have and to what degree they are qualified to do certain types of work.

Price and customer service equally as important

When selecting a field service provider, customer service and price were revealed as being equally as important to UK consumers. Field service organisations must therefore look to balance these if they are to achieve customer satisfaction, retention and profitability.

Over half of UK consumers (55 per cent) said they would refuse to use a service provider again if they were delivered a poor customer experience and with today’s consumers increasingly tech-savvy, it is very easy for them to complain to the masses. If left unhappy, half of consumers would complain formally to the company, 1 in 5 would complain to their technician and 1 in 10 consumers would take to social media to air their woes.

Consumers also find lack of communication with a company or service technician prior to arrival to be a major problem and consider being kept up to date on the day about arrival to be the most important factor when selecting a service provider. It is no longer acceptable to say anytime during the day. In fact almost half of consumers have to take annual, sick or unpaid leave to wait for delivery and service.

John Cameron is general manager of Trimble Field Service Management (FSM), where he is responsible for worldwide operations and development.

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