Empowered and engaged telecom field service technicians are the gateway to customer loyalty
Recruiting new customers can be an expensive undertaking, and companies need to do everything within their power to deliver an experience that keeps customers loyal. In the 1990’s, customers had limited options, and if there were a choice of providers, they typically sought out organisations that were the lowest cost, Paul Whitelam, senior vice president of global marketing, ClickSoftware.
Today however, customers want experiences that make them feel valued. By focusing on relevance, forward-looking companies are creating the type of engagements that clearly illustrates that the organisation truly understands them and their needs.
In the highly competitive world of communications and media service providers, retaining customers not only relies on delivering the right features and benefits, but also on the experience. As the face of the service provider, field service technicians are in the unique position to regularly take the pulse of the customers they service.
Unfortunately, the only time customers typically interact with their service provider is when they have a problem (service disruption, billing issue, etc.) or, at best, waiting for an installation. In the past, the bar for measuring success was set low. In essence, service teams had to show up at some point within a wide window, resolve the issue and do no harm.
Today, technicians need to be empowered to resolve issues faster and easier, and this means removing the obstacles that impede performance. By keeping field service technicians motivated, productive and engaged, customer satisfaction and loyalty also increase.
Unlock the power of field technicians
Gallup research discovered that the most engaged workplaces are 56% more likely to achieve higher-than-average customer loyalty, confirming the strong correlation between engaged employees and satisfied customers. In fact, service providers that actively keep field technicians engaged will also benefit from increased productivity, improved profitability and higher stock value.
It only stands to reason that employees who feel gratified by their work are more productive — and more productive employees ultimately deliver a better customer experience. Yet there is a significant “engagement gap”. The same Gallup research also revealed that companies incur costs of more than $500 billion (€451 billion) due to lost productivity and customer churn, – and these negatives can be attributed to low employee engagement.
So, what are telecom operators doing about low employee engagement? At a recent CIPD annual conference, a UK Tier-1 mobile provider shared their strategy to raise employee engagement. Their journey to drive employee engagement has taken on a life of its own. The initial tagline ‘People Promise’ has evolved into ‘Live the Experience’, which has become the vision for the larger Telefonica group.
Companies with high employee engagement benefit from lower customer attrition, reduced employee absenteeism, and greater productivity. In a tight labour market, now is the time for service providers to increase their focus on employee engagement.
Although there are many avenues to improve employee engagement, adopting technology and best practices that increase a field technician’s independence, efficiency and level of customer engagement are proven methods to boost employee engagement. Here are three distinct ways to bolster field service technicians’ job satisfaction:
Give autonomy a boost
It’s highly likely that you hired technicians that are the cream of the crop. For them to get the job done, they need the power and autonomy to resolve whatever issues come their way. It’s vital that you promote an environment of trust, which will support them in making the right decisions.
When possible let them choose their own path to resolution, such as through the availability of an instruction manual on their mobile device, real-time collaboration with a peer, live assist via video with a subject matter expert in the back office, or augmented reality. Field technicians learn from experience what they need to get the job done, and what works best for them.
Enable technicians to do what they do best
It’s no secret, field service technicians do not like the drudgery of paperwork. Completing paperwork takes time, time away from what they do best – servicing customers and resolving issues. By arming field service technicians with the right mobile applications, paperwork can be reduced or even eliminated. Utilising smart forms, technicians are only able to see the fields that are relevant to the job at hand, and that removes the guesswork of knowing the required information that needs to be captured.
Make information easy to obtain
Typically, field service technicians work alone. When they don’t have easy access to the information, parts and tools they need, first visit resolution becomes nearly impossible. This not only frustrates the technician, but provides a less than satisfactory customer experience. To eliminate these barriers to field success, focus on providing tools and processes that encourage two-way communication − to all participants in the customer service journey.
Since employee satisfaction drives customer satisfaction, and technicians are the face of your organisation, technician engagement is a surefire way to boost your efficiency and your levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
The author is Paul Whitelam, senior vice president of global marketing, ClickSoftware