The value of remote services

During the last decade rapid changes have occurred that have altered the way services are conceived, provided and delivered. The increasing use of advanced technology has enabled service transactions to be carried out over the internet or telephone and have therefore created what we call remote services - since no personal contact is required.

Remote services have enabled remote monitoring and provide the opportunity to develop the knowledge to offer more predictive services. For example, we are now able to spot errors remotely or identify if a component is bound to break down and when, so a notification can be sent to the user. The problems are then fixed remotely or through a telephone call when the customer is instructed how to fix the problem himself.

Perceived Value and Customer Requirements

In the case of remote services the customer is sometimes not aware of the work that is carried out and therefore cannot value it.  Also, when the customer fixes the problem after a telephone session with the engineer there is less value perceived due to the lack of direct contact.

Apart from the perceived value of remote services, one should also consider the fact that customers tend to think that remote services have a lower cost on the service company, therefore they expect that the end cost to them should be lower. While looking at the financial value to the end customer it’s much more costly to have the machine out of order for a long period of time. Therefore, remote services create a win-win situation, even though, the value of this is hard to express.

So how do we go about using remote services while keeping customers satisfied? Noventum recently worked with a global ICT Services provider in helping them develop a segmentation method, based on the customer’s level of IT experience and self-esteem. This was then used to determine how the customer prefers to be treated and immediately resulted to better customer satisfaction. For example, when the customer’s level of IT experience was low and their self-esteem was important then very specific explanation was needed, step by step guidance and a sense of humour during the conversation, in order to take things lightly. On the other hand, when the customer’s level of IT experience was high and their self-esteem was less important, then the client needed to know more information about the problem so as to provide a solution in the future without assistance and share this knowledge with others.

Each business sector has different priorities and characteristics and what we need to do is identify what is important to the client, measure it and aim for a better combination when it comes to service delivery. This will then in line result to better customer satisfaction.

Whether the service is customer-initiated or provider-initiated, research is required to identify the best way to treat customers, based on their needs and preferences. You may need to call or visit the customer after the issue is solved to explain what was done, perhaps a visit is required to discuss about ways to improve the customer’s job. It might even be the case that the customer does not want to know anything about what you did to fix the problem. What seems to be ideal though is coming to a middle solution where you don’t inform the customers of every single thing you do, but perhaps through a quarterly report keep them updated on what issues have been resolved. This solution will have to be specific to each client and based on customer insight.

Customer Experience

All this vagueness can become easier to understand and manage after a customer research, which will also give you an idea of how the customer operates and how they relate to service on a remote basis. Once this is clarified then you can find ways to add more value to your service offering, designed for the specific customer. You can then design the customer experience, which refers to all the touch points between the company and the customer before, during and after the service delivery. 

A company should know their customer touch points and manage them accordingly so as to ensure that the experience is positive. For instance, the phone operator needs to be tuned in with the customer needs and find ways to deliver the best possible results and value to the customer. Taking this a step further, people development is needed in order to deliver such service to the client, as well as careful selection of employees based on requirements.

In addition, the company should also be aware of what happens at other touch points in the customer journey that cannot be influenced by the company e.g. comments on social media, word-of-mouth etc. For instance, if a service provider receives a request and doesn’t deal with it within a couple of days the customer may decide to share this negative experience on social media. If the service provider is fully aware of those external touch points and has insight in what the customer usually experiences there, it is much easier to create positive experiences and minimise damage. Moreover, being aware of what happens on social media can help the service provider improve the level of service offered.

Concluding, remote services enable the customer-provider to offer remote diagnostics, repair and maintenance services in the B2B industries, ensuring normal workflow and minimizing delays and costs. However, in order to have a satisfied customer, the service provider needs to carry out a research to discover the client’s preferences as to how the service is to be delivered. This will in turn allow the service provider to design the customer experience and ensure customised satisfaction.

Read more about how Noventum can help you with Service Design and with transforming your services into more profitable ones. Or just sign up today for our Service Design Course

To discuss your challenges on remote services contact us today.