Getting started with automation for your FSM company in 3 easy steps
By: The Steer Team
Field service management companies today face a growing demand for 24/7 digital services from customers. Indeed, going digital is no longer an option but is key to survive and thrive not only in the new normal but beyond. Buoyed by the experiences they receive from Amazon and Uber, customers now expect convenient ways to place orders for services and expect to receive these smoothly. In creating a frictionless journey from ordering to fulfillment, having digital front-end solutions is not enough. You have to ensure that the entire operations is connected to provide customer experiences like no other.
While It might initially appear as a mammoth task, we have created a Go-Digital Plan -- a three-step process to guide you in ensuring operational excellence as well as great customer experiences.
1. Digitize Process forms and workflow
2. Analyze and Automate repetitive steps
3. Provide access to customers
Let’s explore each of them in further detail to understand how your organization can digitize operations through fulfilment operations.
Steer’s Go-Digital Plan follows a distinct three step process as listed below.
Phase 1- Digitize Process Form and Workflow
You will see the various customer journey steps that require your attention. These steps stand out because of two major things:
The time it takes to fulfil them and
The emotion of your customer during/after that step
Once you have the service design blueprint ready, the first step would be to have a critical look at the activities which are being performed both in the front stage and backstage. The idea is to digitize aspects of operations which are significantly affecting the customer experience.
You would notice aspects in your operational flow such as:
Delays and errors due to employees using paper forms that are manually encoded and transmitted from one team to another
Delays due to approvals that are manually routed or gets buried in an email inbox
Delays due to limited access to core systems resulting in additional handover to other departments
Lack of Convenience because the customer has to perform too many tasks to achieve their goal
Lack of convenience because the touchpoint is not easily accessible (customer hotline that always has a busy tone, for example)
Lack of Transparency because customer is not given real time updates on the status of their order/request.
As you look to digitize aspects of these operational activities, you would look to reduce, if not completely eliminate the bottlenecks in each of these steps.
A good way to start this process on Steer (or any other platform of your choice) is by digitizing process form and workflows.
The specific steps that you might undertake for this include:
Select a template on the Steer Platform to configure or start from scratch.
You would like to customize the form to suit the unique process requirement of your organization. You might also consider building the process vis intuitive drag-and-drop interface on the platform.
Set user access to the actor type and set activity rights per form section for each actor.
Once you have taken steps to digitize your process forms and workflows in the steps above, you could start with introducing micro-automations. These Micro-automations introduced per step could include notification or SLA etc.
Phase 2- Analyze and automate process steps
You can now also start rethinking customer-facing and internal processes to create a digital experience.
There are many ways to optimize a process, but the goals the same: reduce waste & delays, improve transparency, and provide convenient online channels to everyone. Here are some things to consider while consider how could you potentially improve the experience met out in the CJM stages which affect the customer experience the maximum.
Customer Touchpoints: Are the touchpoints the right touchpoints for the kinds of interactions you have with your customer? Can the customer seamlessly switch from one touchpoint to the other? How much work does each touchpoint require the customer? Which one is most convenient in terms of time, accessibility, and effort to the customer?
Employee Tools: Is there a single point of reference for a customer or a customer interaction (an order, a support ticket, etc.) that your employees can access? How is the hand-over of information (from one department to another) done right now and how can it be improved? Are employees well-trained to facilitate customer interactions in the customer touchpoints? How can response times be made faster? Are employees able to work from anywhere or do they have to be physically at the office?
Business Rules: Are these rules properly documented and easily accessible to relevant employees? How can you “codify” these rules? Which of these rules can be automated, and which ones require human intervention? Do some of these rules make the customer’s life unnecessarily harder by causing delays, confusion, additional work?
Integration: What are the current software systems in place? Who currently have access to them and for what purpose? Are they built in-house or built by a 3rd party? Do they run on a web browser/cloud or are they installed in a laptop/desktop computer and accessed from an on-premise server? Do they have APIs or connectors in place?
The actionable steps that you might undertake to analyze process steps and automate routine ones include:
Use the process analysis reports in the dashboard to observe the average cycle time, the cycle time per lane, customer satisfaction report per process to identify potential areas of improvements.
Consider streamlining process through elimination of any steps that do not add value.
Next you could look to automate rule driven steps through ‘Jobs’. Additionally it should also allow for automated 24*7 processing and eliminate errors and omissions from human operations.
Repeat the above steps (Steps 1 and 2) on a regular basis and observe improvements in customer satisfaction as well as growth in revenue and profitability.
Phase 3- Create customer access to processes
Providing self-service options to the customers would allow them to feel that they are in control of any situation. They can raise requests, communicate with the technicians or helpdesk without having to wait over a customer support call, provide feedback after a service request has been attended to. More than just that, the self-service option would provide your organization with multiple insights about the customer behavior which you could potentially use for cross-selling or upselling opportunities.
The final step in this journey would be to empower customers with the ability to interact with your organization in ways they could have never imagined. This would be providing self-service options to customers and other stakeholders (vendors, suppliers and partners). There are various ways in which you could empower your customers with the self-service options: web widget, portal, mobile app, chatbot or plugins.
The actionable steps that you might undertake this step include:
Select from web-widget, portal, mobile app, chatbot and E-Commerce plugin wizard
Follow instructions according to the wizard – either to add a script to your website, or to upload customized app to the App Store, or build a chatbot extension
Make your customers aware of the new ways they can avail of your products and services directly and improve their preferred mode of interaction (outside of Steer activity)
By following the steps listed above, Field Service Management companies can more efficiently deliver higher service volumes, freeing up funds to reinvest in growth areas. Taking out operational costs and improving the customer experience become two sides of the same coin. Companies can attain both goals by reducing bad or avoidable volume; offering more self-service options for basic transactions, which customers actually want; and rationalizing the product architecture and mix.
These steps lead to a better experience, which accelerates revenues through greater customer loyalty and eventually a larger share of wallet.
To give a clearer view of how technology and digital transformation can revamp FSM/HVAC operations, we invite you to join our free webinars on optimizing HVAC operations and improving customer experiences in field services! Sharing their expertise in these webinars will be FSM and HVAC Engineers Shatrujeet Swain and Madhu Sekhar. Check out the webinars' details below:
Learn how technology and digital transformation can revamp HVAC operations! Join us on April 16, 2021 at 2:30-3:30PM (IST)/ 5-6PM (SGT) for a webinar on optimizing HVAC activities.
Register now and reserve a slot for you and your colleagues HERE.
Discover how digital transformation can improve your customer service and help you spark meaningful engagements with your FSM clientele. Attend our April 23, 2021, 2:30-3:30PM (IST)/ 5-6PM (SGT), webinar on transforming customer experiences in FSM! Sign up now HERE.