Technology isn’t a silver bullet. In fact, as tech gets cheaper, easier and more available to everyone, it’s not which technology you choose that will set your organisation apart. It’s how well you harness it as a tool for what IS the number one battleground in the market place: customer experience.
If you’re in the business of servicing customers, particularly out in the field, you already know how important it is to get this right. What you may not have stopped to think much about, although probably appreciate instinctively, is the fundamental impact employee satisfaction has on customer happiness. And how technology can play a key role in improving, and maintaining consistency of, this crucial relationship.
Customer experience is the new brand differentiator
Pretty much every customer retention industry report from the last few years agrees that customer experience is the next big thing. According to Walker research customer experience is set to overtake product and price as the prime brand differentiator and choice motivator by 2020.
For those companies providing field service, this means it will no longer be enough to install, fix and respond to problems. Customers now expect an extra level of service that goes along with these core functions. They want to feel attended to. They want their needs reasonably anticipated. They want their interactions with you to make their working lives better, not just provide a neutral experience.
How you can help field staff meet this new demand
It’s one thing for Operations Managers and Customer Service Managers to identify the above trend and need. But where many people struggle is in how to equip their field staff with what seems like a whole new raft of professional and interpersonal skills.
The answer is simpler than you might think. Yes, one element may be providing all service staff with skills and confidence to cross-sell and upsell where necessary. But more than that: if your employees feel valued, happy and satisfied this will lead to those more intangible interactive qualities that customers are seeking.
This IBM global insights report published in 2017 found that 40% of employees leave organisations because they are unhappy in their jobs, as opposed to ‘for personal reasons’ (39%) or ‘because they don’t like their manager’ (14%).
So how can you ensure your employees are happy? Above and beyond monetary incentives, we know that some of the core reasons people feel satisfied at work include:
- Feeling valued, noticed and attended to (note how these are similar to what customers are seeking from businesses)
- Not having to do tasks that feel meaningless or get in the way of their core duties (I.e. too much admin or paperwork)
- Not feeling like their personal reputation is taking a hit when in reality it’s the company’s systems and processes that are at fault.
- Having adequate information and autonomy to perform their field duties with the greatest efficiency
Bringing technology into the employee satisfaction matrix
You can see that three out of these four core reasons for job satisfaction can be aided by technology.
IT solutions that streamline administration tasks mean your employees don’t have to waste time on this.
Platforms that provide comprehensive, instant and updated visibility around all aspects of customer service allow your staff to anticipate needs, be ahead of the game and provide customers with that extra level of attentive support.
Added to that, technology solutions that can provide auto-reminders, smart-route appointments and remote access to customer information all help ensure field staff are fully equipped. If they are not having to worry, second guess and double check these kinds of fiddly but crucial details, they can put their whole focus on what matters – ensuring that customers feel they are getting great value and service (and never the frustration of late appointments, mis-communication and unnecessary delays).
It is also important to note that the majority of today’s talent pool are Millennials, a group who, by 2025, is expected to make up 75% of the global workforce. While not alone in demanding up-to-date tools and technologies that help them do their job well, Millennials have entered the workforce with a particular set of expectations around technology sophistication and adoption.
Aligning employee and customer satisfaction underpins smart strategy
The old adage of ‘the customer is always right’ needs a tweak in the contemporary market place. The implication of that phrase was always that employees should ‘suck up’ any discomfort and always defer to what customers wanted.
Yes, customer satisfaction is still the primary goal (and as indicated above, getting increasingly important in crowded markets).
However forward-looking organisations understand that balancing the other side of that equation is now just as important. This doesn’t mean staff won’t face challenges or have tough work days. But if they feel completely supported, empowered and valued, these experiences won’t cause them to resent their work or seek another job.
Industry estimates state it costs about one-third of an employee’s salary to replace them. Wouldn’t you rather give your staff more reasons to stay than to leave?
This short video illustrates the difference between an organisation that is providing its staff with outstanding IT support (and how this extends to its customers) and one that is not.
Every customer would rather have John than Doug answering their call. And every employee would rather work for AirFlow than ConAir.
Is your field services team as efficient (and happy) as they could be?
Bluleader exists to enhance customer service for our customers. We develop software solutions that assist with streamlining all aspects of customer service and field work – to help support your field-based team in being as efficient, and as customer-focused as they probably already would like to be! To get a glimpse of what this may mean for your organisation, please get in touch, we’d love to talk. Also, we strongly recommend taking our 3-minute assessment to benchmark your field operations against five core success criteria we’ve identified and receive your personalised report with top tips for improvement.