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MW13: Field Techs Are the Company

Customer experience management (CEM) involves a lot of tools and complicated back-office processes, but it also involves a lot of simple changes that just seem like no-brainers. One possibility, which I heard this week at Management World 2013 in Nice, is to turn field service technicians -- the guys that set up your customers' cable or Internet service -- into the face of the company. A move that would empower them to, first off, improve their accuracy in those dreaded windows of service, and also to upsell customers, promote the brand and answer questions of both a technical and billing nature. This is something TOA Technologies enables for service providers including Dish Network Corp., Telefónica SA, Alaska Communications Systems Inc. (ACS), Cincinnati Bell Inc., FairPoint Communications Inc., Virgin Media Inc. and Windstream Communications Inc.. The company offers a cloud-based field service management platform that TOA's SVP and GM for Europe, Vlad Mitrasinovic, says is enabled by HTML5 and driven by the bring-your-own-device trend. Rather than use expensive, clunky devices with styluses attached, they can use their device of choice, which Mitrasinovic says tends to be split between iOS and Android. Moving the software to the cloud lets them have information about past visits, the customer's services and available promotions at their fingertips. It also learns an agent's typical install time and schedule, so appointment windows can be more accurately estimated and a profile of the visiting tech sent to the user. Virgin Media, for example, says it increased its field technicians' productivity by 15 percent in its first six months with TOA. Mitrasinovic says the average company also saves about $10,000 per person per year in the first six months thanks to improvements in efficiency and reduction of visit time, travel time, resources and headcount. This is one of those upgrades that makes sense to me as a consumer. When I recently had AT&T U-Verse installed, I realized I forgot to buy HD service (the horror!). The tech was powerless to make the upgrade on the spot. If he had access to AT&T's charging mechanism, I could have been instantly upgraded and maybe would've opted for HBO as well. Field technicians are typically consumers' first or only contact with a real person at their service provider. Considering that there are tens of thousands of field technicians having five to 10 interactions with customers per day, that's a lot of chances to lose a customer. It makes sense to let techs actually be the face of the company, from their expertise to their message to the tasks they are able to perform. — Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Sarah Thomas 5/20/2013 | 7:57:11 PM
re: MW13: Field Techs Are the Company Of course, being competent at your job is number one...should be a given, although that's not always the case. I just think empowering employees to go above and beyond and become more efficient benefits everyone. The silos that service providers have between their different services and departments (like billing, network, marketing, etc) are a big impediment to efficiency.
FbytF 5/20/2013 | 7:16:18 PM
re: MW13: Field Techs Are the Company Aside from sounding like a paid ad instead of a new article, I'd first recommend getting service techs to be competent in installation, trouble-shooting and repair before making them an extension of the sales team.
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