Consumer demand drives field service suppliers to ‘Uberise’ operations or risk losing customers

New research finds that customer demand for ‘Uberised’ service is on the rise, however field service suppliers are struggling to meet new expectations especially when delivering services to the home. The study surveyed consumers and field service suppliers to uncover disparities between consumer expectations and suppliers’ ability to deliver a great customer experience. Respondents spanned the UK, the US, Australia, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

According to the ClickSoftware research, consumers expect service providers to employ innovative technology to optimise all aspects of customer experience. Notably, the results show that ‘ease of booking’ and providing up-to-date, real-time communication ranked highest for customers in determining top-notch customer service experiences. Conversely, suppliers struggle to deliver this despite the fact that 61 percent cite ‘customer satisfaction’ as their top measure for success. The study found that, across all geographies, suppliers are not meeting customer expectations as most continue to use siloed, traditional communications tools like the telephone as the primary means of reaching customers.

One size does NOT fit all

Findings highlight significant differences in consumer expectations by region, emphasising the complexity of running an international field service business and the need to customise field service based on location.

  • In the UK, consumers were most dissatisfied with long arrival windows (70 percent), however in Italy, this issue only resulted in dissatisfaction for a third of consumers (34 percent).
  • ‘Choice of appointment slots’ proved particularly valuable for respondents in Spain (23 percent) and the UK (21 percent). However, this was much less the case in Australia (12 percent).
  • ‘Ease of booking’ was most valued by all respondents, but ranked as especially important for customers in Australia (46 percent) and Italy (41 percent). Conversely, respondents in Spain lent equal value to ‘quick time to appointment’ and ‘ease of booking’ (27 percent), while respondents in Australia and Italy were less concerned with these; 22 percent and 13 percent respectively.

Customers want convenience

  • Thirty-seven percent of respondents in the US stated the key benefit of up-to-date, real-time communication with suppliers is avoiding wasting time while waiting for a technician to arrive. This proved the top benefit in other countries as well, with Australia selecting this option most often (46 percent).
  • Almost two-thirds (60 percent) of respondents agreed that a long wait time between making a service appointment and the actual visit made for a bad customer service experience.

Suppliers strive for satisfaction

While 61 percent of suppliers globally indicated ‘customer satisfaction’ as the key measurement of customer service success efforts, with no clear definition, most fall short of not only understanding their customers’ needs, but meeting them:

  • Telephone proved the number one method of communication across all geographies, representing a contrast with consumer demand for increased ‘Uberized’ service. Optimizing the scheduling of the field service team did not rank high for suppliers despite a clear indication of the consumer value placed on not wasting time.

UK values real-time tracking the most

The results clearly indicate that consumers want more seamless and convenient interactions with service providers. When asked about expectations for providers over the next five years, more than a quarter of consumers across all countries cited an expectation for access to ‘direct and live communications’ with their service technician, for a more on-demand experience. In line with the findings, real-time tracking of service professionals was found to be most valued by UK respondents (37 percent) moving forward. Clearly, customers want real-time visibility into their service visits, particularly with the technology available to deliver this.

“The Amazon and Uber business models have broken the customer service mould. Now all service encounters are held to the same bar, no matter if e-hailing a cab or scheduling a cable repair,” said Tom Heiser, CEO of ClickSoftware. “The voice of the customer is loud and clear; increased convenience and a more on-demand experience is necessary to reach the bar, and companies that embrace next-generation customer experience through enhanced field service solutions will succeed.”