Forward-thinking retail organizations across the globe understand that nurturing the customer experience goes beyond the initial sales engagement. The importance of visibility into the customer journey and the seamless integration with manufacturers are vital as customer expectations rise. In fact, when it comes to making a purchase, 64 percent of people find customer experience more important than price. Brand loyalty can often be jeopardized when the customer interaction is transferred from a retailer to an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for at-home service or repair of a product if the level of quality service doesn't remain consistent. Luckily, field service management (FSM) software provides retailers with the tools they need to properly satisfy customers and efficiently conduct omnichannel sales.
The Digital Customer Journey
In 2022, 85 percent of customer interactions will begin with self-service. In today’s digital world, consumer expectations are higher than ever and the majority of shoppers would switch companies for a better customer experience. As retailers work to unify their in-store and online experiences, they must keep customer convenience at the forefront of their strategy and provide self-service portals that inform, educate and direct consumers appropriately. Interactive self-service portals offer start-to-finish visibility from product purchase to delivery, installation and service. Customer portals are convenient, allowing customers to engage with retailers from any digital device, regardless of time or location.
Customers have the autonomy to report problems, make service appointments, review warranty information, and receive real-time updates so that they're always promptly informed. The integration of the portal to management software allows retailers to conduct business from a single location and informatively guide a customer’s journey based on their complete profile. This reserve of consumer information and direct communication channel not only helps customers stay informed with their service journey, but also allows organizations to tailor sales, discounts and upgrade offers to each individual customer based on their specific needs and interests, thereby increasing revenue and delighting the customer with a specialized service experience.
The retail journey for an individual customer extends far beyond the initial purchase or even installation. For many organizations, warranties are a critical part of retail sales and customer engagements as they provide large appliance manufacturers with the opportunity to generate more profits and continue to improve customer satisfaction. In fact, 77 percent of warranty professionals believe improving customer retention and demand are the top drivers for higher levels of warranty performance. While many retailers may rely on third-party organizations or workers to handle their warranty services, these jobs impact the customer experience, and low first-time fix rates can reduce profits.
FSM technology offers retailers the ability to employ a comprehensive warranty solution that connects OEMs with retailers, customers and technicians for the most effective service possible. An integrated system can automate manual workflows to reduce claim costs and turnaround times, communicate clearly with contracted workforces so that skill sets match service requests, and enable real-time data sharing with product teams so that warranty requests are adjudicated properly and managed effectively from the moment of request. Warranties are a contract between the customer and the service provider. When effectively managed, they can reduce leakage, increase customer confidence, and drive referrals.
Expand the Team
Whether a company is dealing with delivery, installation or warranty service on a product, it's often helpful to employ contracted workforces to execute all necessary business operations effectively. Independent service providers (ISPs) are becoming more important to retailers globally that are looking to scale and operate speedily, as blended workforces offer flexibility that helps outperform organizations with full-time-only staff. ISPs can offer skilled technicians with flexible hours in a broad geographic range, ready to respond to any customer request. However, top ISPs are in high demand, and they're also the face of a retail brand every time they respond to a service request on-site.
FSM software allows retailers to engage with ISPs who can help deliver a positive customer service experience and retain high interoperability between third-party systems. Leveraging this technology allows retail organizations to identify and dispatch the best contractor for each job with access to large pools of qualified, vetted technicians and engineers. Third-party workforces’ ability to add value to the consumer experience is significantly enhanced when they have full access to interactive capabilities of the FSM platform, driving companywide communication and customer satisfaction.
Comprehensive, data-driven customer profiles help technicians provide better service and surpass client needs. Field service software helps retailers cultivate an end-to-end customer journey and communicate workflows clearly with OEMs and third-party contractors to leverage customer insights for a competitive edge and deliver on high expectations for an exceptional customer experience.
Brad Hawkins is senior vice president of products and solutions at ServicePower, a field service management software company focused on providing an exceptional customer experience.
Related story: When Partners Become 'Frenemies,' the Customer Loses
Brad Hawkins is Senior Vice President of Products and Solutions at ServicePower and oversees product management and pre-sales engineering. A long-time veteran in the world of field service technology, Brad brings more than 20 years of experience in workforce management software.