We were recently attending a conference for Field Service professionals and were asked, “How do you measure and impact customer experience?”
Great question and one that comes up frequently in discussions about field service. Typically organizations use customer satisfaction surveys, questionnaires and more recently Net Promoter scores to gauge a customer’s level of satisfaction with their experience interacting with their service organization. These metrics can be valuable, but they are lagging indicators. Most people appreciate that with lagging indicators, you will have to determine the drivers that led to those scores. What’s needed are leading indicators, those that can be used to predict, in a cause and effect way, the actions of service people that will create a differentiated positive customer experience.
It’s All About Bandwidth
In our experience working with thousands of technical service people, the one metric that will lead to significant changes in customer experience is actually the Bandwidth of their service people, here’s why.
Bandwidth is the capacity of a service person that is available to provide service to the customer. Simply put, if a service person has 30 of 40 hours available to service the customer, their bandwidth is 30 hours per week. But if the work the person has to perform takes 40 or 50 hours per week, their bandwidth can’t keep up. The result is either poor service delivery and therefore poor customer experience or increased stress on the service person or (usually) both.
So, 2 questions:
- How do you maximize the bandwidth, the number of hours the service person has available to provide value-added service to the customer?
- How do you ensure that service people use their time/bandwidth to create the differentiated customer experience you want?
How to Maximize Bandwidth
To answer the first question, think about the things that reduce the Bandwidth of service people. Most service people would quickly identify their own company’s internal processes, too many rules and procedures, poor alignment and poor communication. All of these things lead to wasted activities, rework, etc. – all things that reduce Bandwidth.
On the customer side it’s even worse. In conversation after conversation with service people they tell us that customers are not clear on what their real issues are. They fail to engage with service people in a collaborative discussion. They escalate issues too quickly, before all of the relevant facts and issues have been identified. All of this leads to even more reductions in Bandwidth.
How to Differentiate Customer Experience
If the first question is about increasing the quantity of available time (bandwidth), the second question is about improving the quality of the experience your customer has interacting with the service person. The good news is that the same approach will answer both questions.
In our experience, data we have collected from service people in the form of case studies has captured, among other things, increases in bandwidth. These case studies have shown that by skillfully engaging customers in collaborative, open discussions, service people are able to reduce trouble shooting and problem solving time, from a few hours to a day or more. Likewise problem escalations (those that exceed the standard escalation time) can be reduced both in the number of problem escalations and their duration.
Results from the Field
In the case of one client we collected more than 100 case studies, the majority of which identified improved Bandwidth as the outcome from embedding Total Customer Focus (TCF). On average, service people estimated a 10-20% improvement in Bandwidth due to TCF.
Imagine what your service people could do with an extra 10-20% of bandwidth.
Bandwidth is a great metric for the service people themselves because they can feel the impact of increased bandwidth almost immediately in their work life balance. Most service organizations these days are confronted by the problem of doing more with less. Customers want to reduce contracts while simultaneously demanding more and better service. Ultimately this lands squarely on the shoulders of the service people who are under constant pressure to increase the level of service, provide a high-quality customer experience, work efficiently and maintain a reasonable work-life balance. Increased bandwidth, enables the individual service person to achieve all of these.
From the customer’s perspective, the same actions that drive increased bandwidth also drive the customer’s most important service outcome, uptime. Think about it, reduced trouble shooting time corresponds 1 for 1 to reduced equipment downtime. Faster installation time means that the customer can begin using the new equipment sooner. And many of the hours of rework and other wasted time on the service person’s side correspond to lost time for his customer counterpart as well.
So, how do you systematically improve Bandwidth? We will explain how organizations are doing this in our next article on Training that Yields.
To learn more about the Total Customer Focus tools and skills that will enable you to maximize your bandwidth, attend one of Global Partners’ upcoming TCF public programs.