For your field service management business to reach its maximum customer lifetime value potential, you need to empower your contact centre agents and field service technicians to have emotionally resonant customer interactions at every touchpoint.
In the first of our blog series on field service management, I explain how you can do this by enabling your contact centre agents and field service technicians to become your customers’ trusted advisors – leading to longer customer lifetime, increased renewals and referrals, and increased cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.
The importance of customer lifetime value
Customer lifetime value (often shortened to CLV or CLTV) is one of the most important metrics to track for any business. CLV is the total worth to a business of a customer over the whole period of their relationship. It costs less to keep your existing customers than it does to acquire new ones, so increasing the value of your existing customers is a great way to drive growth. However, while most businesses know they want to increase their average CLV, not all know how to do this effectively. Some try to increase CLV through brand loyalty, comparison pricing, ancillary revenues, rewards initiatives, and other such minutiae. While I won’t say these things are irrelevant, I will say their importance must be determined by covering the basic fundamentals first.
Customer satisfaction: the key to customer lifetime value
The two fundamentals of maximising CLV are: keeping your customers for longer (in other words, increasing their lifetime with you); and encouraging them to buy more (increasing the value of purchases with you). It’s no more complicated than that.
There’s really only one sure-fire way to do both these things, and that’s ensuring your customers are satisfied.Customers stay longer and buy more when they’re happy with their experience. Unhappy customers buy less and leave sooner. So, it stands to reason that the ability of a business to maximise CLV, is equivalent to its ability to enhance customer satisfaction and therein lies the rub – because customer satisfaction isn’t based solely on the quality of your products or service, it’s also based on customer interactions.
Customer interactions are the touchpoints between a business and its customers. And if you get them right, your customers will be happier. Meaning they stay for longer and buy more, giving you the higher customer lifetime value you’re looking for.
How can field service management businesses nail customer experience?
Customer interactions are more and more digitised, and in increasingly sophisticated ways. Most businesses sell online or at least have some capacity to generate and progress sales through websites and apps.
Many customer support interactions have also moved online. Just as some in-person interactions previously moved to call centres, so call centre interactions are now being replaced with online chatbots. More recently, these chatbots have even evolved to use sophisticated artificial intelligence, which attempts to mimic the quality of human-to-human interactions.
All these digital channels are capturing customer interactions at every stage of the journey. And the data collected gives us an incredibly detailed picture of how to deliver a great customer experience. This is part of the raison d’être of platforms such as Salesforce, that provide a seamless interface between your business, your customers, and business users.
With these technical platforms, businesses can drive efficient automation into customer processes and help customers achieve their goals. This can mean that for some businesses, after the initial sale, there is no real human contact with the customers. In fact, for many, even the entire pre-sales and sales cycles are completed online.
And that leaves out one vital aspect of customer experience – human interaction and empathy. Now, human-to-human touchpoints aren’t required at every stage of the customer journey – but there are a few touchpoints that do demand it – namely contact centre requests and field service visits.
Your contact centre agents speak directly to customers in realtime to solve an issue or help them through a service. Meanwhile, field service technicians visit customers at their homes. But with any of these interactions, it’s not only about solving the issue at hand, it’s also about making the most of your staff’s additional advantage over any sophisticated technology – empathy and emotional connection.
And this key aspect of human interaction during the customer journey presents a very unique opportunity to field service management businesses to deliver superlative customer experience.
Field service technicians and contact centre agents: your customer experience heroes
Given their unique position in the customer journey, contact centre agents and field service technicians not only have a wealth of knowledge about customers that can be tapped into, but can also be enabled (with the right tools) to deliver brilliant customer experiences.
While customers are going about their daily lives leaving a digital footprint and data with your business, your customer contact agents are gathering a massive amount of knowledge on typical customer issues and their resolutions, as well as, let’s face it, customer mindsets and moods.
Meanwhile, field service technicians know the variety of asset issues and their fixes, and also get to meet customers in person. All this gives them an invaluable understanding of customer wants, needs and reactions to certain issues.
But this knowledge can be significantly enhanced with the right technology. Technology can better enable your contact centre agents and field service technicians to deliver superb customer experience. They need to win customer trust from the very first interaction. And to do this, they need to know the customer from all perspectives, including but not limited to, their purchase history and contract details, past support requests, how past interactions ended, whether there are any outstanding issues, unanswered enquiries, their preferences, and so on. And they need to have this information at their fingertips when interacting with the customer.
There are advanced technical options on customer data integration, management and data science today that enable this 360 degree customer view and make it available on demand through various channels like mobile apps.
Along with this sophisticated technology, in order to make an emotional connection with the customer, our heroes need to have a high EQ (emotional quotient). Of course, some of this is natural, but can be augmented through calculated customer predictors and contextual next best actions and offers (the kind now possible with artificial intelligence and machine learning).
Empowered with this ammunition, your contact centre agents and field service technicians can have emotionally resonant customer conversations every time. By delivering customer expected outcomes faster and becoming your customers’ trusted advisors, they can truly differentiate your brand from the competitors.
With great experiences and a real trust in your organisation, it’s then only natural for your customers to renew and continue to use your services for a longer time and not look for an alternative. Happy customers are also more willing to try out additional services when guided by their trusted advisors – leading to more cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.
And of course, happy customers are more likely to recommend you too, bringing in the icing on the cake – new customers.
Net result: increased customer lifetime value.
Look out for the next installment of our field service management blog series, where Meenal will be discussing “4 drivers to increase CLV”. And to find out more about how we help field service management businesses increase CLV, take a look at our solutions.