Businesses are investing further in customer service teams to meet the growing expectations of customers on the doorstep, according to a new industry report fromfleet and field service management services provider Trimble.
The Road Ahead - The Future of Field Service Delivery, a new independent report commissioned by Trimble reveals that 57% of operations directors and managers say their service teams have grown since 2007, while nearly two thirds (61%) believe their service division will grow in the next five years.
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 in the UK with field service departments across a variety of industries including communications (phone, cable and satellite), utilities, trade (HVAC, plumbing and electrical) and waste management.
The strategic importance of field service operations is increasingly recognised at the board of director level with 90% of companies in the survey saying their organisation was fully committed to improving field operations. Just under half (49%) said their board is placing more strategic importance on field service excellence than it did a year ago.
The report also found that field-based employees were perceived as the face of the company by 90% of respondents, demonstrating the increasingly key role these teams are now playing in the overall business and in potentially impacting customer service and retention.
Businesses are also going to greater lengths to ensure service levels are maintained, with 82% now running customer feedback programmes to monitor satisfaction, and over half now using social media to capture feedback. More than three quarters of managers anticipate a larger role for social media in the future.
It's clear that today's field-based organisations consider a customer-centric focus to be a priority, with customer satisfaction given as the top priority (68%) for meeting field service objectives, followed by customer retention and improving profitability.
There is a growing acknowledgement of the increasing expectations of customers and the links between customer service, retention and profitability. Those businesses recognising their workforce as not only the company face but also a customer retention tool can reap the rewards as service continues to be a differentiator and something consumers could use to make an informed decision about who to buy services from.
"This report illustrates how businesses are adjusting their view of their field-based teams," said Mark Forrest, general manager of Trimble's Field Service Management division.
"These organisations are moving away from considering their service teams as simply an operational necessity, to viewing them as being strategically important to customers. Adopting a customer-centric focus in the field to meet customers' service delivery expectations can be a significant asset to build a company's brand."
The report explores the issues troubling industry managers and reveals insights into the strategic priority their organisations are giving to field service effectiveness, and their future plans in areas including service delivery and employee safety.