Green issues and the environment are mainstream concerns. People everywhere are looking at ways to reduce their negative impact on the planet, from ditching plastic packaging, eating less meat, switching to an electric vehicle and recycling more household waste items. Consumers expect no less of the products and services they choose to buy. Consultancy PwC conducted a study in December 2021, where 52% of consumers said they had become more eco-friendly than they were six months earlier, and 51% said that they took traceability and transparency of origin into account when making a purchase.
So, it’s becoming clear that when choosing between two similar offers from different suppliers, customers are now more likely to choose the one that is also making a positive difference to the planet and its people. In Field Service Management of course, some customers, like residents in social housing, are unable to vote with their feet. That doesn’t reduce the imperative for providers to deliver the very best service possible for a number of reasons, including being a very effective cost-saving strategy:
- Happy customers are more likely to be repeat customers. According to customer retention trends data, 65% of sales come from existing customers, 80% of future profits will come from 20% of existing customers, and repeat customers spend an average 33% more than first-timers.
- Optimise marketing budgets. When positive interactions with operatives and other representatives of a company are successfully satisfying its existing customers, marketing budgets can be reduced and targeted mostly at new business for greater return on investment.
- Stay ahead of changing legislation and potential sanctions and penalties. The UK government’s Charter for Social Housing Residents is set out in its white paper, indicating that it will work more closely with the Regulator of Social Housing to “create a strong, proactive consumer regulatory regime, strengthening formal standards against which landlords are regulated.” It sets out key expectations to help it achieve better standards for residents and forward-thinking local authorities and housing associations are already integrating these into their own policies.
- Putting customer service high on the agenda is critical for a good reputation. It may help elevate Field Service Management contractors in a competitive sector, and will make an organisation more attractive to potential investors and partners. They will assess the overall governance of operations and expect to see best practice in every area. The way an organisation treats its customers, particularly those who are unable to switch to another supplier, is a very good indicator of wider values and culture.
- Paper-free offices see an immediate reduction in costs for paper and printing, as well as reducing waste and associated disposal costs. Digital field service solutions allow operatives and office-based staff to assign jobs and log completed work online, in real time, without piling up paper records.
- Unlike data held on paper forms and job sheets, important and sensitive information about residents and their properties can’t get lost or fall into someone else’s hands, protecting customers’ safety. Instead, devices used in the field can be password protected for each operator, ensuring data privacy.
- Digital field service management software allows teams to reduce the time that operatives spend idling in traffic jams, or unnecessary backtracking over routes. This results in lower fuel bills and more jobs completed each day, increasing productivity and efficiency. There is an added bonus of cleaner air for local residents too.
- Digital solutions are designed to automate many processes, such as form-filling and make life easier for operatives in the field and at base. Providing them with tools for more straightforward working practices helps reduce work-related stress that can lead to sick days. Higher staff retention is better for budgets and leads to more stable and experienced teams.
- As well as being an important shift away from reliance on fossil fuels and the associated impact on global warming, upgrading fleets to all-electric vehicles means neighbourhoods are quieter with no emissions, meaning better quality of life for local people. As fossil fuel costs rise, and more electricity is produced using renewables, running an electric fleet will soon be the much more cost-effective solution.
The correlation between increased customer satisfaction and implementation of greener working practice requires implementation of intelligent digital field service management software for successful outcomes. Customers want appointments at times that suit their other commitments, scheduled within a short time frame and most importantly, operatives that turn up on time and complete the job in a single visit wherever possible. Using the right scheduling and operative management solutions can deliver those certainties for customer and business alike.
Other tools, such as Advanced’s Operative On The Way, enable two-way communication between operative and customer. Each is advised of any last-minute changes to schedule or unexpected issues that will delay the visit. That’s so much better than leaving people sitting waiting at home for an operative who may be late or fail to show at all, and appointment reminder texts reduce costly wasted trips for operatives too, when householders’ forget to stay home.
Using digital devices in the field and at base, organisations are implementing powerful software solutions that optimise resources, reduce costs and deliver greater experiences for customers, resulting in more efficient and sustainable service provision. For more information, Advanced has recently published a white paper, ‘Lessons from the P word’ discussing how the field service sector is responding to the growing ESG concerns of customers, among a number of other new and proactive ways to deliver greater customer service, for better engagement, higher retention rates and improved customer feedback.