We used to think that the field work industry couldn’t change - that solving at-home problems required an at-home visit - so the industry charged for those services. However, between bloated cost structures and customers getting tired of waiting days for service, we need to make things better. Routing efficiency used to be heralded as the solution to our problems, but the industry has gotten so complex and expensive that bragging about routing efficiency is the equivalent of bragging about good gas mileage after driving off a cliff. The industry has to be willing to make a big change if it’s going to survive. Bluntly: it has to find ways to cancel home visits.
A tedious process
Think about the last time you needed someone to come fix something in your home - the wifi modem, your HVAC system, or the electrical panel. The process probably went something like this: Realize there’s a problem because something bad happens. From there, call the service provider and get put into a home visit slot based on when someone is available. Chances are that’s a day away, if you’re lucky. In the meantime, you ready your hot plate or start tethering data from your phone. On the day of service, you’re provided a multi-hour window where you’re stuck at home waiting for what will likely be a 10 minute fix.
No one benefits from this process. The customer hates waiting days for service and then being stuck at home waiting for a technician to arrive. It’s no fun for technicians either, who are tossed around to different service sites, spending nearly half their day driving. And it doesn’t work for the companies that bear the soaring fixed costs of home visits.
A big reason why this system stays in place, though, is a lack of customer loyalty and inconsistent revenues. Customers will go to whichever company can get there the fastest, so it’s difficult to build loyalty. That means companies need those one-off, high-cost fixes to keep their revenues up. But it doesn’t need to be this way.
Make it easy for customers
A change in customer expectations has opened a new opportunity for field service businesses. New commercial technologies have shown consumers how easy and fast remote conversations can be, and now they wonder why other areas of their lives aren’t that efficient. Even though you should never use FaceTime for work because of huge privacy issues, field service companies can take an example from consumer technology.
According to studies by Harvard Business Review, the best way to build loyalty is not to offer the flashiest service, but to reduce how hard customers must work to solve their problems. This is where remote service offers two distinct advantages over the current home-visit model:
- Customers are used to remote technologies now that apps like FaceTime and WhatsApp have become standard in their everyday lives.
- Remote service is infinitely faster than home visits. Even if someone lived next door to a field service hub, it’s faster to turn on a video chat than it is to walk to someone’s house.
When you use remote field service technologies, you’re able to eliminate a whole house visit. A lot of the time, customers can solve the problems on their own with directions from expert technicians on video and text. In cases where a home visit is ultimately necessary, the video call acts as triage so technicians never go in blind. ICwhatUC data also shows that technicians that respond quickly to customer complaints also sell 8%, even when they respond remotely.
Long live virtual home service visits
Between booking available time slots and attempting triage, the home visit system results in slow service and bloated costs. Routing efficiency failed in its promise to save money, so the only thing left to do is find a better way. That’s where the digital home service visit comes in, resulting in faster service, less work for the customer to do, and ultimately more loyalty. It also opens the possibility for field service businesses to consider a SaaS-style business model, which skyrockets revenue opportunities for the future.