Microsoft Acquires FieldOne Systems LLC To Create Better Customer Service Experiences Via IOT and Analytics

How many of you have waited for the “cable guy” or “phone person” or experienced customer service that just wasn’t close to being the experience you wish the brands you do business with would provide? Most people have had at least one, and in many instances, many experiences that were not up to par and in some cases that poor experience created a distrust of the brand. People don’t expect companies to be perfect. But they do expect companies to care. One way to show they care is by providing better customer care. The value great customer service and customer experience has long been an underestimated value proposition in companies- even though people like me have created dozens of customer service and customer experience / social and digital media ROI models. That there is a huge ROI and enhanced customer engagement, trust and customer lifetime value are possible, especially when analytics and IOT are combined, these are some of the reasons why the announcement by Microsoft  and FieldOne Systems LLC is so important.

What this Means to Customers: It’s true in today’s connected world, customers expect to engage and be engaged by brand in ways that are most convenient for them. One of the ways companies can be more responsive is to look at how they are providing customer service and depending on the product or service, how they are approaching field service capabilities. Field service management is often what distinguishes say, one cable company from another. When the service is not working and a service truck needs to be rolled, it is often an necessary, but expensive endeavor. I’ve heard countless stories about “that technician” that shows up without the right parts, didn’t realize what the real issue was, was over scheduled and running late and didn’t communicate that to the customer…  What this type of new customer service and field service offering means is that the customer experience can be greatly improved.

What this Means to Companies: This combination of Microsoft and FieldOne LLC offers enhanced and improved critically important customer service capabilities by providing companies with the ability to deliver end-to-end field service. It is a very important point in time for technology companies to provide brands with ways to truly improve their responsiveness to customers, especially with service in the field.

FieldOne has the baseline functionality that organizations need to drive a more effective field service operation. As a leading provider of end-to-end solutions that enables businesses to drive revenue, reduce costs and deliver great customer service, FieldOne specializes in delivering a full set of capabilities that include work order management, automated scheduling, asset contract, inventory and procurement management, workflow capabilities and mobile collaboration – providing enterprises with a comprehensive modern field service solution.

With these capabilities a brand would be able to do things like adjusting routing on the fly and delivering service arrival estimate times within a smaller window, which is essential for more personal customer engagement. Net-net – the cable guy will show up with the right parts, be on time or communicate to the customer that they need to adjust their arrival time. That really helps – especially if you are a customer that stayed home from work or needs to leave work to get home to be there when the cable guy comes. (Note: I’m not picking on the cable companies – it is just an easy scenario to visualize how this announcement can improve customer experiences that most people have experienced at least once in their life.)

What it Means for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, FieldOne and the Parature Solution Offering for Companies: Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides customers with extensive customer service capabilities, including chat, knowledge management and self-service functionality which came from the acquisition of Parature in January of 2014. FieldOne, offered to customers as a cloud service, is built on Microsoft technology for fast integration. This means it already works great with other Microsoft productivity offerings like Office 365 and SharePoint, and has cross-platform capabilities meaning it can work on different devices enhancing the mobile experience — all of which are so critically important in field service management. FieldOne was built from the ground up to leverage Dynamics CRM. This means that brands can take advantage of its capabilities right away. Field Service can be difficult because there are so many things that have to be balanced:

Getting field service right can be difficult fieldOne

 

Source: FieldOne.com

Customer Service, Customer Experience, Analytics and IOT: To change the game in customer service, not only do brands need to upgrade or change the technology they are using to provide customer experiences, but also they need to do something with all the data and analytics they are gathering, especially with what is possible through sensor and other technologies that make up the Internet of Things (IOT.) It’s critically important for companies to deliver systems of intelligence so that the company has better insights and as a result, they can provide better customer experiences.

The combination of Dynamics CRM and FieldOne provides this critically needed offering along with predictive learning and analytics. It is able to deliver an intelligent, proactive customer engagement solution. Part of the reason this is significant is that field service departments need to quickly move away from a reactive, break-fix model to a predictive service-based model. The acquisition of FieldOne allows Microsoft to offer companies the ability to tap the potential of predictive service by bringing together the powerful combination of FieldOne, Azure IoT and Cortana Analytics. This combination means that organizations can use insights that effectively provide servicing proactively while streamlining the provisioning of service to significantly reduce costs.

The Bottom-Line: I’d like to see the day that Customer Service reports directly to the CEO and the CFO. (It may in some companies today, but I’d like to see it happen all over the world as a standard practice. CEOs need to be paying attention to customer service. It is a game changer and a bottomline and topline issue that CFOs should be all over.) I’d like to hear from customer service professionals that they no longer feel that they suffer from the “Rodney Dangerfield Affect” — i.e., that they don’t get enough respect. Perhaps with the evolving customer service, care and experience offerings now available, the tide will shift and customer service will become recognized as the game changer it’s always been — only now it will more visible to executives through IOT and analytics.

What’s your thoughts on what needs to change in customer service and customer experience?

@drnatalie

VP and Principal Analyst, Covering IOT, Analytics and Customer-facing Applications that Deliver Enhanced, Trust-building Customer Experiences via Customer Service, Sales and Marketing

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