The Top 10 Ways to Maximize Customer Engagement for a Higher ROI
Customer engagement can make or break a company. Multiple studies (research below) show that customers will quickly leave brands that deliver an underwhelming or impersonal experience, even if they felt loyal to that brand before. However, when brands excel on these fronts, there are opportunities to raise prices and turn casual customers into enthusiastic evangelists. Customer engagement is something everyone in field service should care about. Moreover, it’s something everyone should be improving upon. The burning question is, “How?”
Our focus is customer engagement. Every field service provider understands the importance of keeping customers happy. But many underestimate how much success or failure on that front affects their bottom line. It is safe to call customer engagement the single most important thing to get right in field service.
As we will explore in this blog, implementing FSM software can upgrade the customer experience in important, impressive, and innovative ways, some obvious and others unexpected. Add all those together, and the ROI of increased customer engagement might pay for the entire software.
Why Customer Engagement Is King in Field Service
Field service is, by nature, a customer-facing endeavor. In most cases, going into the field means interacting with a customer in person, entering their private property, handling things they care about, and addressing their most urgent issues.
No wonder people have high expectations for the technicians they rely on and pay for. They expect quality work to be performed quickly, which they will often inspect themselves (or supervise while in progress). On top of that, they expect a stellar experience where the tech is punctual, prepared, friendly, and helpful throughout. Anything less than excellence in all these areas can make the entire service appointment feel like a mistake.
Technicians make the strongest impression, but it is neither the first nor last impression.
Schedulers are typically the first point of contact between a provider and a prospective customer, and that contact sets the tone for the entire relationship. People appreciate schedulers who can get a tech on site the same day (or another preferred time). Alternatively, a rude or unhelpful scheduler can sour every interaction that happens afterwards. First impressions matter.
The billing department is usually the last point of contact, and it can single-handedly encourage or discourage a customer from coming back. When paying for services is fast, easy, and trustworthy, it makes a provider seem customer-friendly and accessible. However, billing problems of any kind can cast a provider as dishonest and difficult to work with, driving business to competitors.
This is all to say that customer engagement is really the substance of field service. Companies in this industry are not just in the business of installing equipment, servicing properties and assets, or repairing mechanical issues; they are also in the business of attracting new customers and keeping the ones they already have. How do we keep our customers engaged? Every provider needs an answer. More importantly, they need a plan.
Customer Engagement by the Numbers
Most field service providers operate in competitive markets where customers have their choice of who to work with. When many companies offer the same service, the winner is the one that delivers the best experience from first contact onward. It comes as no surprise, then, that customer engagement has a major impact on business outcomes, but several statistics help to emphasize how deep that link goes:
- 80% of consumers will leave a brand they felt loyal to after just two poor experiences according to emplifi.
- Research from PwC suggests that customers will pay 16% more for products and services they consider “premium” compared to alternatives.
- According to the same research, 80% of consumers say that speed, convenience, and service are the most important elements of the customer experience.
The bottom line is that customers are more demanding than ever, inside and outside field service, and what they expect evolves and expands constantly. The rise of digital and mobile technology means that people expect smart, seamless experiences with everything they do. Those expectations went into overdrive during COVID as businesses became obligated to offer on-demand and no-contact services in ways they never had before.
Field service providers are not immune to these trends. On the contrary, they are affected by them more than most. Field service is an industry that lives or dies by customer engagement, but it is also one that has been slow to innovate on this front. Consequently, many providers are scrambling to implement the digital services that have already become familiar in other industries. That means customer engagement offers many rewards to providers that get it right and becomes an increasing liability for those that do not.
How FSM Software Improves Customer Engagement
FSM software like NextService gives providers a digital toolkit to handle critical duties like scheduling and dispatch, parts and equipment inventory, safety and compliance documentation, work order management, and more. NextService improves upon each of these areas individually, but more importantly, it integrates them together on one platform so that all aspects of service delivery work in sync. That way, no aspect of service delivery compromises customer engagement, and they collectively deliver an experience that checks all the boxes.
Here are some examples of how the constituent parts of FSM software work in concert to deliver an optimal customer experience:
- Judge Capacity – Estimate how much work a team can take on based on the number of parts, equipment, trucks, and techs available so that the company does not promise what it cannot deliver or, conversely, miss an opportunity to serve a new or returning customer.
- Schedule Techs – Discover the fastest way to get the right tech to a customer’s location to address their issue sooner. By also considering the tech’s convenience and preferences, scheduling can help ensure that a cordial company representative arrives on site.
- Optimize Utilization – Learn the best way to utilize the time and skills of technicians so that sick days or recruiting issues do not compromise the ability to meet service level agreements or accept new customers. Similarly, cut down the time techs spend doing paperwork and planning so they can spend more time serving customers.
- Communicate Proactively – Keep in close contact with customers, supplying important information and updates through the most efficient means available, so that customers are never out of the loop or surprised by the unexpected.
- Manage Inventory – Prevent parts shortages and supply chain delays causing problems for customers by carefully managing inventory, anticipating future requirements, and ordering parts early. Improved inventory management also ensures that techs arrive with all the right parts on the truck to deliver a first time-fix (still the gold standard in field service).
- Dispatch Efficiently – Adapt to the unexpected, when necessary, by quickly identifying the most efficient way to dispatch replacement techs or different parts/equipment to a job site so that jobs proceed as planned even when the unplanned happens.
- Improve Field Mobility – Supply technicians with all the information they need in the field through mobile devices (phones, tablets, or laptops) so that lack of information never undermines service delivery or customer engagement. In addition to being an exceptional information resource, mobile devices are a replacement for paperwork and all the hassles that come with it.
- Empower Techs – Make sure that technicians, the literal face of the business, are always making the best impression by arming them with better information, more information, and faster information. The best way for techs to impress is to look competent and capable in all things.
- Promote Sales – Provide technicians with the tools and training to act as sales reps who can encourage upsell opportunities or service subscriptions – and handle sign ups – from the field. Right after the successful completion of service, when the tech looks trustworthy and the customer feels satisfied, is often the best time to sell more, especially when it is easy to buy.
- Continuously Improve – Use the data from the FSM to study performance metrics like the first time-fix rate or the time to service. See what could be better and put improvements in place – by leveraging the software – so that the customer experience is not just consistent but continuously improving.
In these and even more ways, FSM software helps field service providers coordinate, align, and provision all their resources in a way that meets and exceeds the highest customer standards. It helps providers get their proverbial ducks in a row, which is the minimum requirement for a successful service visit, and a prerequisite for offering service in more engaging ways.
Crunching the Numbers on ROI
When customers are happy with a provider, they will rely on them exclusively, ask them to do more, and refer their friends, family, or colleagues. Any one of those improvements could increase revenue significantly, and together they can transform a company’s fortunes. To keep things modest, imagine if increasing customer engagement raised revenues by 1%. For a provider that does $10 million annually, that is $100,000 of new business, and probably more.
Having a loyal and satisfied customer base can also reduce costs. For example, more business coming through referrals means less spent on sales and marketing. Raising the first-time fix rate keeps customers happier while also eliminating the expense of unnecessary truck rolls. In most ways, improvements to the customer experience come from more efficient, and therefore less expensive, delivery of services. Imagine if costs were also cut by just 1%. For a company that spends $5 million annually, that is a savings of $50,000 (or more) from using field service software.
These numbers are hardly hyperbole. One of our clients, a Houston-Based remodeler called Eagle Point Solutions, saw customer engagement increase so dramatically with our FSM software that sales jumped by 30% with the same team they had before. Meanwhile, there was a 33% reduction in jobs with errors requiring call backs.
Another of our customers, an energy and facilities management company, describes the impact of using our software to improve customer engagement in more anecdotal terms. “Technicians are the customer facing arm of our company. NextService helps us put modern technology to work for the people who are out there earning money for us. We want them to have more time on task, more consistency, and less interruptions. The less time they spend on administrative tasks, the happier they are—and that in turn will improve job satisfaction and retention.” Plus happy, satisfied technicians deliver superior customer experiences.
Quantifying the ROI of increased customer engagement is not always easy or universal. Still, all evidence overwhelmingly suggests that happy customers have a dramatic impact on financial fortunes in field service that far exceeds what the FSM software costs.
What NextService Does Different
More than anything else, the degree to which FSM software integrates important features determines the extent of the ROI. NextService is unique in that regard because it runs on-platform with NetSuite, a leading ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), to combine the features of service delivery with the features of business management into one comprehensive tool kit. Few, if any, other options for FSM on the market offer such an expansive and exceptional collection of capabilities. And these capabilities are more than just integrated—they run on the same technical infrastructure and utilize the same databases to achieve perfect synergy.
The fact that NextService runs on-platform with NetSuite benefits customer engagement in countless ways and pushes ROI to impressive heights. To calculate the ROI for your own company, or to just learn more, speak to an expert at NextService.