Service organizations with 150 field technicians can have the same difficulties delivering service as larger, enterprise companies. However, due to their smaller size they have limited resources (financial, people, expertise) to not only to address these challenge, but also to thrive in today’s competitive marketplace.
Jolt has identified three main success factors for these organizations to excel in today’s marketplace:
- exceeding customer expectations
- investing in service technology
- focus on their core competency of service delivery
Although 150 field technicians may appear like an arbitrary number, this is rooted in Jolt’s experience working with service companies of various sizes across 14 different verticals and is a reasonable cut-off point for most industries. Second, these sized companies account for the majority of service providers in the United States. For example, in the mechanical contractor and HVAC service space, 94% of companies in the U.S. are 150 technicians and less1.
Exceeding Customer Expectations is Paramount
This strategy is relevant for companies of all sizes but due to its importance, it is worth stating first. With the increasing competitive marketplace and the immense amounts of information customers have at their fingertips, customer select (or maintain) a service provider no longer just on products, services and pricing but on their experience with that service provider.
Customers want to interact with a service provider that is easy to do business and requires them to expend less effort to have their needs met.
Adding to this challenge are increasing customer expectations in today’s world of Amazon and Uber as those companies are setting the standard for all service providers. Increased customer expectations include; tighter (smaller) appointment windows, updates and notifications of their service event status and a consistent experience across all channel interactions (web, phone, email, chat, etc.).
Service organizations that embrace and are successful at exceeding customer expectations insulate themselves from competition and achieve superior financial results. An Aberdeen Group study2 found that best-in-class organizations (top 20%) achieved a Year over Year change of 21.3% in customer satisfaction and 45.3% in annual company revenues. This is very impressive, especially when compared to the bottom 80% of firms that realized only a 3.3% improvement in customer satisfaction and 6.2% revenue improvement.
Invest in Service Technology
The days of schedule/dispatch boards in excel or on a whiteboard and field technicians filling out paper form are gone. Companies that do not invest (and continue to invest) in service technology will find themselves at a significant disadvantage in the future. Why, because their competition is making these investments and will be better positioned to exceed customer expectations, reduce operational expenses and scale their organization to grow and meet future challenges.
Fortunately, the cost of service software is no longer a barrier to the acquisition of service technology. Smaller companies, with smaller budgets and less internal IT resources, are increasingly selecting cloud deployments as their preferred alternative, regardless of how the software is ultimately licensed, to reduce their internal hardware and IT infrastructure footprint.
Most service software applications can adequately manage core service needs and the service delivery chain of an organization; call receipt, schedule/dispatch, field technician mobility and reporting. If selected and implemented correctly, these solutions can provide operational efficiencies and return on investment.
A challenge to these investments is that the service software landscape provides an overwhelming number of options and is rapidly changing due to acquisitions and investments in the service software space. This is causing difficulties for service organizations to identify and select the most appropriate service software for their specific needs and objectives.
Jolt released a whitepaper describing this trend and implications to service organizations; “Disruption in the Field Service Software Space and Challenges to Software Selection”. Click here to receive a copy of the whitepaper.
Focus on Your Core Competency of Service Delivery
Smaller service organizations typically do not have the financial resources to build out internal expertise in all functional areas of their business and these organizations should focus their resources on their core competence of service delivery. Companies should prioritize dollars to drive exceeding customer satisfaction and business growth; for example, marketing campaigns, adding sales and field technician resources, etc. instead of adding IT resources.
It is difficult, if not impossible, for smaller companies to gain a competitive advantage by bolstering their IT team when they compete against bigger companies with larger and more sophisticated IT infrastructure and resources.
A by-product of this strategy has two implications. The first is to select and implement service software that is cloud based as these will not require internal hardware and infrastructure and related internal IT resources to maintain this infrastructure.
The second implication is to shift the management and administration of the software to a 3rd party who understands the complexities of both service operations and service technology. Cloud based solutions allow easy access for 3rd parties to administer, maintain and enhance the software. By partnering with an external company that specializes in service software management allows the service provider to receive best practices from the partner’s service technology expertise and their broader network of managed service customers.
The net result is that the service organization maximizes they realize from the service management software.
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1 US Census data, SIC code 238220.
2 Aberdeen Group, CEM Executive’s Agenda 2017: A Data Driven Approach to Delight Customers, February 2017.