The prevailing wisdom is that, when it comes to Digital User Experience, the emphasis of design should always favor the customer. It’s true that managing customer user experience through your organizations’ systems is a key element in serving, retaining, and attracting new customers, but if you’re stopping there, you’re ignoring a huge opportunity. To understand that opportunity, we do need to understand user experience for the customer. As a service company, what are the interaction points between you and your customer in your service loop? Let’s break this down by doing some good old-fashioned service journey-mapping (Albeit heavily generalized). There are typically three components to a service interaction:

  • Initiation of service: This could be scheduled maintenance, a call or digital schedule resulting from a break, or an automatically-scheduled appointment.
  • Delivery of service: From routing, to coordination of remote delivery, though the actual delivery of service, this is where a customer’s ticket is actually resolved.
  • Resolution of service: Invoicing, upselling, marketing, customer surveys, and all of the other administrative tasks that mark job completion.

If we look at the customer journey through these three steps, there are a few places where maximizing the digital user experience for the customer is paramount to a successful interaction. On a very binary level, the emphasis on customer UX lives almost exclusively in steps 1 and 3. And yes—having easy systems for the customers to use in both instances is important. But it’s that middle step—the delivery of service—that has the most tangible effect on the customer outlook, and that is solely in the hands of your employees.

In fact, all three steps require the employee to interact with more digital systems than the customer would, thus emphasizing the importance of UX in systems the customer never interacts with. At least, that’s the way it should be. Starting with scheduling and routing, through the service appointment, and certainly for invoicing and ticket closing, systems that are fast, accessible, and above all, easy to use, are imperative.

Having powerful tools to manage inventory, fleet positioning, and knowledge management is great, and makes a huge difference, but ensuring that the software itself is intuitive is the key. Technicians need to be able to access what they need quickly and easily, and they need to see a tangible benefit over what they’re capable of doing offline to make the software valuable.

Here’s an example: Let’s say that you’ve invested in a new inventory management system, and your technician is looking for a part. Your system will show the location of the part across all channels, but the way to do that is not readily clear to the technician, or it’s hidden in the ninth submenu, or the system is not available on mobile, or the system works terribly on mobile. So—the technician calls a colleague to check to see if they have the part, drives his truck across town to grab the part, then returns to the job site.

What are the implications of this? First, the technician isn’t using the inventory management system you just spent all that money on. Second, the technician had to leave the job site for a prolonged period of time, meaning potentially more customer downtime. Also, assuming neither technician logged the inventory exchange properly in the software, we now have a situation where there is an inventory exception, meaning that parts allocation is off, parts reordering is affected, and inefficiencies ripple down the service value chain.

Research has shown repeatedly that if workers are met with an unintuitive product, they will go out of their way to avoid using it. Think not just about the level of inefficiency that this causes. Think also about how this impacts the customer experience. It’s clear, then, that while customer UX is important, within the service sphere, good technician UX is arguably more important. There are, of course, a few dimensions to this, so how do you help maximize technician UX satisfaction? Keep these things in mind:

  • Involve Technicians in the Technology Rollout and Purchase Process: I’ve spoken about this before, but managers and business leaders have a great superficial view of how a technicians’ job is completed (even if they were once technicians themselves), so there’s a definite need to make sure that technicians are explaining the scope of their on-site responsibilities, and confirming that new software and hardware can achieve and enhance those responsibilities.
  • Test Software in the Appropriate Conditions: A software demo in a controlled environment is, frankly, a waste of time. Execution is key, and for the technician, that means that access to software under the right circumstances is key. How will they access Knowledge management when they’re up to their elbows in machine parts? Think this through thoroughly.
  • Train, Train, and Re-Train: Onboarding new software and hardware can be a pain, take time, and waste a day or two that could be spent in the field, but the efforts pay dividends. Also, training doesn’t end with rollout. Be prepared to implement 30, 60 and 90-day trainings not just to make sure the systems are working right, but to collect feedback on where systems can be improved.
Tom Paquin

Contributor, Future of Field Service