Did anybody notice the moment we all became marketers? Every article we share, post we like and image we upload is about communicating our values and signal ideas and products we think others should know about.

As a business, you can capitalise on this evolution with your own customer base. Crucial to what your customers will say, share and promote about you is their experience with your company. And who do customers spend the most time with after the point-of-purchase?

Your field staff.

Few customers will ever share a post on social media about how clever your marketing campaign was. But you can bet they’ll go to town if they have a bad customer service experience and (hopefully) rave if they have a good one. More importantly, most customers will be engaged in ‘dark’ marketing – the stuff that you can’t see or record and rarely get a glimpse of. It the stuff that everyone says about you behind closed doors!

This means that you have to consider all your customer facing staff as part of this marketing matrix. They are the glue that connects your customers to your business. They influence how your company is perceived and also, they can provide invaluable insights into what your customers are thinking.

The rise of the empowered consumer

The village square is a big place these days and yet it also literally can fit into the palm of your hand. As consumers we are more aware, connected, informed and opinionated than ever. Brands that let their customers down and fail to respond to negative critique can go belly-up in an instant.

Likewise, good news, recommendations and word-of-mouth can spread like wild fire. Every business wants a moment when they can say they ‘went viral’. It’s this power of social media that has blurred the lines between marketing and customer service. Customers are now influencers and they are extremely powerful.

You can’t control these things. And to overtly ‘court influence’ would be a futile waste of time and energy.

The only thing you can – and must – do is make sure your customer service is on point. Because if customers are marketers in the online world, your staff (each and every one of them) are now marketers for your business.

Every interaction is an opportunity to build relationships and shore up your reputation.

The responsibilities and possibilities for field staff in this new alignment

The last thing you want to do is overwhelm field staff and heap a whole lot of new responsibility on their shoulders: ‘Here, you fix all of our marketing!’

What you do want is to empower field staff with knowledge, confidence and tools that mean they can easily integrate marketing activities into their existing job descriptions. Remember – marketing is basically connecting people who need things with the things they need. Your field staff are already doing this. Given the right tools and support they can take it to the next level.

Imagine if your field staff could:

  • Go prepared to every site visit
    • Have full visibility of customer history so they understand any past faults or sensitivities and adjust communication accordingly.
    • Offer discounts and marketing specials where relevant and know when not to mention them to avoid risk of ‘hard sell’.
    • Have awareness of what the call-out is for, or if it’s a scheduled visit what the focus is and any new information that is important (such as parts to take with them, warranty information to know about, etc).
  • Have customers auto-notified about site visits
    • No awkward phone calls from the road. No getting to the site and their key contact being out to lunch or at another meeting.
    • Seamless communication that saves everyone time and fosters positive interactions.
  • Have access to insight tools while on site
    • Make the customer feel valued by having all relevant information to hand.
    • Ask for feedback or additional insights and be able to record these immediately (or set up an automatic process such as a survey to be sent, knowing the customer is informed and willing).
    • Be able to immediately sign the customer up for another service contract based on their needs, or pitch an upgrade that responds to those needs.
  • Do all of this through a phone or tablet
    • Lightweight, easy to carry and use, part of their daily tasks anyway (I.e. not a laborious extra thing to carry).
    • No time-consuming double entry (i.e. having to transfer information once back in the office).
    • Eliminate risk of information getting lost, not passed on, or passed on incorrectly.
  • Feel empowered and like they are making a difference
    • Gain new skills and the confidence to use them.
    • Be a more integrated part of the business.
    • Have the opportunity to contribute their inherent knowledge from being on the road.

This may seem a more ephemeral outcome but it is hugely important. Because just as consumers are more empowered, so too are employees. Good ones will always be able to find work elsewhere and if they don’t feel connected and empowered they may seek other opportunities.

Technology is a key element to bringing it all together

Bringing together your sales, marketing and customer service functions – by integrating processes and sharing information – can transform your customer experience and have flow-on effects to every aspect of the business.

The change must be led by C-Level, particularly Operations and Marketing, getting together to identify and recognise the huge potential impact (both positive and negative) that field service interactions have on the business. And while that’s the beginning, it is through the right technology that this alignment can truly come to life.

How do your Field Services Operations measure up? Why not take our 3-5 minute assessment to find out how you benchmark against other organisations? And whilst you’re at it, check out this video.