Today’s customers are used to interacting with service organizations via several channels; in fact, they insist on it. In addition to being able to speak to a human, they expect to have access to a friendly and useful Web site. They also want to be able to receive important notifications (such as the technician’s pending arrival time) no matter where they are, via their mobile phone by automated voice mail or text message.
Want to really manage customer relationships?
Try showing up on time for their next service call. (Part 3)
These technology developments enable the creation of new service management processes – and therefore new and better ways of using your CRM system to collaborate with customers. To better understand how technology can transform customer interactions around appointment bookings, consider the following example.
Imagine that one of your customers books an appointment – either by talking to an agent at the call center or using a self-service channel (for example, a Web site). You mutually agree on an appointment window that fits your service organization’s existing policies: between 8 a.m. and noon. You agree to send the customer an alert 30 minutes before your service representative’s actual arrival. The customer will also receive an e-mail repeating the terms of the agreed upon service – what is to be done and when, and the costs and terms. The e-mail also lists all the different notification methods available to get more information about the appointment or ask for changes. The customer now has at least partial flexibility during the appointment slot and is free for other activities until receiving the alert.
Using field service management erp software, your company automates and optimizes the service scheduling, handling new events in real time and continuously maintaining the most up-to-date plan for when each service will be performed. Once the start of service is estimated to be within 30 minutes, the software sends an alert to the customer and “locks” the plan for that customer. At this point, only unforeseen events will move the execution time.
At 8 a.m., the customer discovers that her son has missed the school bus and she must drive him to class. Instead of gambling that this might be OK, she uses the Web link you provided via e-mail to alert the service desk that she will be available only after 9 a.m. The software will check whether anything needs to be changed in the plan and, if so, whether the change is possible. Even if the change is not possible, the customer can immediately set a new appointment, saving all parties time and hassle.
More likely, the software will find a way to accommodate the customer’s request – which means your service organization avoids a “not-at-home” trip while earning favor with the customer for exceptional responsiveness and flexibility. Even in the worst case, when the service just can’t be performed during the promised appointment time, the software will detect this as soon as possible and notify the customer. She won’t be happy, but she will at least appreciate the effort to avoid wasting her time, and she’ll have the opportunity to reschedule at the earliest mutually agreeable time.
Sounds like it’s time to get in touch with your CRM vendor to determine just how much appointment scheduling functionality is already in your software, and how much can be added, ASAP.