Customer satisfaction is by far the top priority for UK businesses operating field-based workforces, ahead of cost cutting and improving profitability, reveals a new industry report commissioned by fleet and field service management provider Trimble.
The study, entitled The Road Ahead – The Future of Field Service Delivery, was designed to delve into the issues that keep industry managers up at night, garner insight into the strategic priority their organisations give to field service effectiveness, and to assess their future plans across areas including service delivery and the effective management of field-based employees.
The industry study was carried out by Proteus, an independent market research agency, and involved in-depth interviews with 100 managers and directors of businesses with field services departments across multiple sectors.
A key finding of the report was that a customer-centric focus is more important than cutting costs, with just 36% of respondents indicating reducing costs is a focus, compared to 68% stating customer satisfaction takes precedence in their plans, followed closely by customer retention (68%).
Alongside the priority given to customer service, the research also found that UK businesses are striving to increase workforce productivity, which reflects the importance businesses are putting on service delivery and their need to meet the expectations of customers.
Reflecting changes in company policies, increased legislation and rising insurance costs, 80% stated that health and safety was a higher priority than it was five years ago. Almost 60% are applying technology to help monitor and improve driver safety.
The research also showed that over half of businesses surveyed have updated their workforce utilisation technology in the last six months, with a further 50% stating their intention to upgrade in the future. In addition, 41% felt their field services technology was outdated.
Organisations are investing in initiatives to achieve service delivery excellence, customer feedback programmes and safer driving initiatives, says Trimble, and that the results suggest a shift in how field-based workforces are now being perceived by the board, moving from what was once an operational necessity to one of important strategic value.
According to the research, sustainability is also becoming increasingly important both internally and externally. The report reveals nearly two thirds of respondents believe that sustainability will have a significant effect on their future business plans, and with the social awareness of consumers shifting to green, businesses recognise this is a key area of focus for the future.
When looking at green credentials, monitoring fuel usage was felt to be a quick and easy way to provide significant reductions in CO2 emissions, as well as manage costs.
"The report demonstrates that enterprises are becoming increasingly customer-centric in the field services industry," said Mark Forrest, general manager of Trimble’s field service management division.
"In spite of worries surrounding fuel prices and operational costs, businesses realise the need to deliver the best service possible to stay ahead.
"There is no question that every organisation must adapt to meet customers’ changing service delivery expectations and understand the impact this can have on the business, both from a financial and operational perspective. It’s encouraging to see businesses embrace worker safety and sustainability as integral aspects for future service delivery excellence."