Too often, our field service operations turn into cost centers instead of the growth engine that they should be.
When we treat our service operations as something we must have to service products, we fail to recognize the value of service relationships and the opportunities those relationships provide.
Instead, businesses must look for ways to build relationship capital.
Relationship capital is hard to measure, but it is one of your business's most valuable assets when leveraged correctly.
In this post, we look at four methods businesses can leverage to maximize their relationship capital—not only with their customers but also with field service technicians and complementary service providers.
Attract, Retain, and Develop Talented Technicians
A business's initial relationship capital should be built with its employees. As Stephen Covey says, “always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” After all, without top-tier field technicians, you cannot properly serve your customers.
A good field service technician has the skills and knowledge to increase customer trust, thus, increasing the likelihood that they will follow their product and service recommendations. In that way, your field service technicians double as an on-site sales unit. So, it only makes sense to invest in top talent.
Currently, there are more jobs than there are technicians to fill them. So, technicians will only choose to work with businesses if they believe they are committed to helping them grow and do their job successfully.
When you commit to developing the top talent in the industry, you gain the leverage to attract and retain more field service technicians. The best field service technicians seek forward-thinking companies that are prepared to meet changes in supply chains, customer expectations, and technology.
Adopt Supportive Technology
Part of developing high levels of talent is allowing your technicians to focus on building their core skills and not wasting time with routine tasks. So, you want to set up your technicians to be seen as experts—not just vendors that someone else can replace.
The first step is assigning the right technician to the right jobs, so they arrive with the right knowledge and equipment. That might sound like a lofty task, but with AI-assisted scheduling and dispatching, it is not.
Field service scheduling today can take into account your technicians' scheduled jobs, real-time location, and training to identify the ideal match in seconds.
Beyond scheduling, you must cut out the routine tasks that could be tackled through automation and integration.
Not only does automation remove pressure from service technicians, but they make your workflows consistent and reliable across every customer interaction. That reliability increases trust and relationship capital with your customers.
Do Right by Your Customers
When you first gain customers, you have a clean slate. They are cautiously optimistic that you will follow through on your commitments. But if things do not go as planned, your customer may not be forgiving.
In fact, as high as 96% of customers would leave a business over what they consider poor customer service, especially in saturated markets with plenty of competition.
But, sometimes, things happen that are outside of your control and make you unable to deliver on schedule—things like illness, weather, and parts delays.
When that happens, it is our relationship capital with our customers that gets us patience and understanding. So, only companies that have built up their relationship with their customer base can overcome the occasional bump in the road.
Fortunately, creating a relationship with your customers is easy if you have the right systems in place that streamline communication and project management so that you rarely miss the mark.
Because even for new customers, if you have droves of positive reviews from other customers, they will trust that this is not a regular occurrence and will be more likely to give you another shot.
Identify Strategic Partnerships
Building relationship capital is something that continues outside of your organization. Beyond your relationship with your employees and customers, you should always seek to build relationships with complementary service providers serving the same market.
For example, Zuper looks to improve our services by partnering with other leading platforms such as HubSpot, Zendesk, QuickBooks, Stripe, and many more. These partner relationships allow each business to facilitate a more comprehensive service than if we did not choose to integrate.
In today’s connected world, customers are searching for ways for their tools and services to work together and make everyone’s life easier. When you coordinate with related product and service providers, you benefit from their referral network and maximize your reach at much lower costs.
By partnering with respected industry leaders, you borrow their relationship capital with new customers, bolstering the customer's opinion of your company from the start.
However, you want to be strategic when choosing partnerships. You must carefully consider the business's relationship with its customers and whether it is the same relationship you want with your customers.
In field services, your reputation is everything. The relationships you build with your customers, technicians, and partners determine your growth. If you do not invest in the entities that invest in you, you are costing yourself growth opportunities.
This post was inspired by Zuper FM’s The Value of Technology & Relationships in Field Service Management. Listen here now.