Technology Isn’t The Problem in Customer Service. It’s How It’s Built. There is a Better Way.

Luke Krueger photo

Luke Krueger

For utilities, field service, and construction companies, support tickets are more than sending an email. It’s an entire business unit consisting of desk technicians, field technicians, and a myriad of software. But there’s a disconnect: customers just want their problem solved. Unfortunately, the traditional model of house-calls - and the small army of field technicians required for the job - are costing companies millions annually.

The worst part is that this system doesn’t actually give anyone what they want. The costs are hurting companies, the lifestyle of being on the road all the time isn’t healthy for technicians, and no customer wants to wait until Thursday to solve a problem they called about on Sunday. A lot of solutions claim to solve this problem, but all focus on point solutions that don’t make a real impact on the core issue. A new solution that massively reduces costs, increases speed of service, and increases safety for field technicians is necessary.

A triple business threat

In the earliest days of utilities, cable, and telecom, highly trained specialists would go from house to house, solving unique problems for unique customers. This was the cutting edge of technology at the time, so the practice became entrenched as a way of doing business.

Over time, though, home calls and field technicians became massively inefficient for a variety of reasons:

  • Increased fixed costs for vehicles and technician salaries meant a higher cost base for companies to deal with. Today, the average fixed cost for an at-home visit can hit $450 or more. With the majority of support tickets being for minor issues, this is a huge expense for very little customer satisfaction ROI.
  • Urban and suburban sprawl meant technicians had to drive longer and longer. Estimates suggest that the average technician spends 40% of their day driving to house calls and data shows that technicians are at the highest risk of injury when driving to a house call.
  • Because of increased costs and technician time spent driving, customers have their service delayed by days or even weeks as they fight to get onto a rigid schedule.

It’s one thing to have these issues and deal with them, as companies did for decades. But in modern times, these days are not even necessary.

The technology exists to serve customers remotely: Simple things field workers already use like SMS and video technology mean that there’s an opportunity for remote technical service. The challenge is that retail solutions like WhatsApp or Facetime require app downloads, may not have an optimal user experience for tech support, and don’t meet new privacy regulations.

Customers are comfortable with - and want - remote solutions: In the modern era, customers are used to solving multiple problems with their phones - from communication to commerce. A study from Gartner found that when people of all ages want a problem solved, they’re happy to use technology if it increases efficiency.

Owner / operators gain back time in their days to build relationships with prospects: Technicians frequently say they close more business in person, but ICWhatUC research found the opposite. Because technicians spend so much time driving, they weren’t actually closing more deals. Even at a lower close rate, which wasn’t always the case, remote technicians closed more business because they gained significant time back in their days to nurture deals.

The real issues: security and reducing user friction

While technology like Zoom, WhatsApp, and Facetime make it easy to connect remotely, there’s an element of discomfort for every party involved.

Customers

When people call technicians, they want their problem solved. However, even if customers own a smartphone, which most do, they don’t want to download apps to get support. Further, many people are not comfortable talking about potentially sensitive information, such as utility records or phone numbers, on apps where third party providers could access their data.

Technicians

Technicians often help one client remotely via SMS or Facetime while they’re on another house call, so they are used to remote solutions and are happy to use them. However, similar to customers they don’t want to have to download multiple different apps for multiple different customers. It messes with their workflows and reduces efficiency. Further, the nature of field technician work without a remote option - travelling all the time, difficult physical labor, and odd hours - means that working parents, people who might become pregnant, or people with disabilities are regularly opting out of the hiring funnel.

Companies

All companies have a duty to protect their customers’ data and use it in appropriate ways. So from a company perspective, technicians using basic SMS or WhatsApp for customer support calls could be in violation of their customer privacy policy, even though customers technically consented to using digital communication. Further, many utility, cable, or telecom companies are in union environments. That means to clear sensitive data, companies would have to go into technicians’ phones, which is a violation of many collective bargaining agreements and in general a violation of technician privacy.

A new solution made for enterprises

It’s clear that customers want technology to help them solve problems faster, companies want to leverage technology to reduce costs, and technicians are safer when they are not on the road as much.

The next step is a solution that is built for industry:

  • Secure and compliant with all data privacy policies.
  • No downloads necessary - just click a button and go.
  • Seamlessly integrated into current support ticket systems.
  • Opens opportunities for remote technician support.
  • Built for easy technician use so they can support multiple clients seamlessly.

This mentality is how we built ICWhatUC. When a company leverages our technology, the process is easy. A customer sends in a support ticket, just like they normally would, and receives an SMS notifying them to join the browser-based ICWhatUC space - no downloads required. From there, the secure web environment uses the client’s smartphone camera to have a real-time, face-to-face conversation with voice and text messaging for live problem solving. Customers hold up their camera to the issue, the technician instructs them on solution steps, and the customer has their problem resolved in minutes, not days.

On the backend, there’s a win-win-win happening:

  • Technicians see a 30% reduction in miles driven, resulting in a 300% increase in quotes from the time they get back in their days, leading to more sales.
  • Customers see a 22% increase in support tickets solved on the first call, so they can get back to life faster.
  • Companies see a 90% reduction in service costs, turning a massive cost-center into an affordable way to delight customers and keep them coming back.

The will, technology, and business incentives exist. Fundamentally, the conversation is about needing a solution that fits how the business actually operates, taking inspiration from the haphazard ways people communicate now. With ICWhatUC, that solution is already in the market.

Support your customers remotely at their time of need

Book a demo
A hand holding an app

Up Next

The 5 mind-blowing stats you didn't know about tech in Field Service.

It’s hard to imagine the field work industry as a high-tech place when the most prominent visual we have is a large van or truck (likely with a ladder on top). The reality, though, is that field workers have a huge technology adoption curve - and even bigger technology needs. Between customer demands for increased speed, contactless service, and the desire to solve problems without having someone come into your home, field service is due for a huge technology revamp. Here are 5 mind blowing statistics that show just how ripe for change the field service industry really is.

By Luke Krueger

See all

Book a demo

We’d love to show you how it works. Get in touch – we’ll show you how our software suite can help transform your business.