This is part of an ongoing series on the state and standards of service management software in 2020. Here are the previous articles in the series:

We’ve spent the last two articles discussing the general service delivery capabilities, as well as the underpinnings of operations that define excellent service. What’s left is the back office—the glue that holds your field operations together—and how those functions are defined, utilized, and changing.

Frankly, this is not a topic we talk about a lot on Future of Field Service. We remain so fixated on the field operations (some of us have claimed that dispatch activities may cease to exist in a few years) that it’s easy to overlook the importance of centralized operations. But discounting the importance of this area of your service business is not a winnable strategy.

So as we have done previously, let’s make a short list of the key capabilities that make up customer experience systems:

Before we dig into this list in any detail, let’s think of the contact center in the low-fi world before digital systems: You need an appointment, you call an office, a worker schedules an appointment. Or some variant of this. Many businesses still work this way in some part. Were I to call up my oil company, I’d talk to the one receptionist who would dispatch one of their half-dozen trucks.

But that’s not all that they do. I’m on an automatic refill plan, which means I’m in their system. Which means when I call, and my number appears, they have a delivery history for me, and my payment info on file. Which saves me having to read my credit information over the phone, or them having to deliver me an invoice, and helps to mitigate negligent payments. Plus, with their customer service CRM, I can log on and see all my delivery history and usage information.

This is a simple example, but it shows the way that extremely low-impact customer experience utilities can provide utilities and service changes that really move the needle for customers. This was a comparatively light lift—some telephone enhancements (“Ok Mr. X, I see you had work completed on your boiler in December of last year…”), and a solid customer management system, and it goes a long way.

For a small shop like in the above example, there might not be the need to employ chatbots, or remote assistance, but for enterprise organizations, B2B, and servicers of large machinery, these tools can really make the difference.

As has been our refrain throughout this series, not all capabilities are created equally. The biggest issue that I see with customer experience utilities, because shovelware is a dime a dozen, in service is when organizations employ boilerplate solutions that don’t actually understand service operations. When that happens, a huge amount of customization needs to go into the product to get it where it needs to be. And if it’s not specific enough, not only does it not provide any value, it is easy for staff to overlook or ignore.

There are certainly some subtopics worth delving into in the CX space, and I’d expect to see more content coming down the pipeline on that in the weeks and months ahead. Next in this series, though, we’re going to take a step back from the key capabilities of service management and look at the stages of service software implementation, starting with a fresh installation of a brand new utility.

Tom Paquin
Author

Contributor, Future of Field Service