As enterprise technology grows wiser, customer transformation needs a human touch

Profile picture for user Patrice Eberline By Patrice Eberline February 9, 2016
Summary:
Enterprise technology grows wiser and smarter, but customer transformation still needs a human touch in field service, writes Patrice Eberline of ServiceMax

Patrice Eberline VP global customer transformation ServiceMax 250px
Patrice Eberline, ServiceMax

Human touch is returning to technology. Global companies like Google, Apple, GE, Samsung and others pioneer new methods of interaction with technology built for the enterprise. We are now seeing great strides to re-inject voice, human emotion and understanding into user experiences of all types in pursuit of measurable, high-value service to consumers. While forward-thinking concepts like artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality and voice-driven applications are available today, they will become more mainstream across the enterprise in the next five years.

I like to think that my industry – field service – has never lost the human touch. On a global scale, it’s one of the few industries that operates successfully on constant human-to-human interaction. In fact, field service innovations regularly fuel people-to-people interactions through web, mobile, wearables, Internet of Things and offline technology and platforms. Ultimately, it’s the direct human connection that builds trust and consumer loyalty. Stronger relationships yield revenue growth and sustainability across industries.

Proactive response

Customer transformation in field service relies on continuous improvement to deliver results. The industry embraces change, continuing to challenge companies to think of ways they can use the latest technologies to deliver the best outcomes and value for their customer base. Often, this manifests in building a service infrastructure that funnels actionable data to technicians so they can respond proactively, and with the best tools for the jobs at-hand.

Field service agents regularly venture out to fix machines, assets and mission critical problems impacting global businesses and people's’ day-to-day lives. Increasingly, data streaming from machines and assets back to field service providers alerts technicians to potential issues even before the customer notices. This enables technicians to offer proactive, significant value that deepens trust and strengthens relationships. This shift from reactive to proactive service drastically changes the nature of the field service dynamic and how customers experience it. At the core, technology provides the vehicle for this shift to outcomes-based customer success.

Humble, global and vital

While field service is not generally well-known around the globe, it’s the humble, global and vital industry that keeps your refrigerator humming, your heat on in the Winter and a dialysis machine working through treatment cycles. Field service technicians are the quiet global workforce that support, maintain and supercharge the operation of machines that literally sustain and improve life. Developments in field service technology inspire larger companies to think about how to better connect their people and how to tap into the massive streams of data coming from assets in the field in the most efficient way. In doing so, they greatly improve the quality of field service a customer receives.

Technician morale improves when they show up to a job with the right tools and the right knowledge to fix the problem the first time. Importantly, customer happiness elevates with higher first-time fix rates and better equipped technicians. Enterprise technology leaders are taking a page from field service’s book and injecting an authentic human touch back into the overall vendor-customer experience.

Image credit - Miniature technicians repairing CPU © kirill_makarov - Fotolia.com; headshot by ServiceMax.