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Handling Delays and Uncertainty for an Uberized Day of Service

Localz was joined by Claire Rowland, world-renowned UX and IoT specialist and author, to discuss the impact customer expectations are having on the field services industry.

We are part of a tech-savvy nation who have become accustomed to instantly connected services like Uber, Amazon Prime and Deliveroo. Expectations for ‘everything now’ has become the standard and consumers are benchmarking customer experiences from every sector against one another. We are in the radical age of “uberization” and field services are under pressure to transform customer experiences.

Localz was joined by Claire Rowland, world-renowned UX and IoT specialist and author at its Innovation Day last year to discuss the impact “uberization” is having on the field services industry. Claire is recognised as an authority on UX design and has led the design of the 2nd generation Remote Heating Control (the predecessor to Hive) and the first generation Smart Energy Report, the UK’s first consumer smart meter report. Her clients include Bulb, EDF.

Here, we recap the keynote presentation looking at how the integration of better communications can enable field services to better plan for and handle delays and uncertainty. To watch the entire keynote on-demand, head over here.

Setting expectations

We often come across many organisations who are struggling with consumer expectations and this is usually down to a discrepancy between what the customer expects and what is actually then delivered.

Lessons learnt from the leaky loo

“The downstairs loo starts leaking and we go online on a Saturday and they offer us a Sunday appointment. Fantastic, as they don’t usually come on the weekend. Sunday comes and we wait in for the majority of the day and then we get a text saying ‘we will be there on Monday’. Turns up on Monday and someone comes but only to give a quote. Then we book someone to come and fix the toilet, wait all day and then get a call to say that the job before ours is overrunning so they are going to have to re-book…


Now I understand that a plumber may not work on a Sunday and that you need to give a quote first but this was never communicated. What's going on here is poorly set expectations, setting promises for things that aren't probably possible, bad internal communication and uncertainty on the day. We need to aim for certainty. When designing something we need to think about not just how the experience will be when everything works but also consider how things will fail and mitigate the impact.” 


Examples like the above are unfortunately all too common. A lack of communication, no clear expectations which led to a feeling of uncertainty and in the end a total lack of trust in the service when they didn’t deliver. It is vital to build in verification steps at each stage of your service delivery model in order to demonstrate that you are fulfilling the promises you make to your customers. A text message confirming the appointment, a push notification the day before to remind the customer of the appointment and then a live tracking link of the location of the service engineer with the ability for two-way communications. 

These verification steps aren’t only important for the customer but also to your bottom line. Increasing first-time access rates is fast becoming one of the top priorities amongst field service organisations that we are engaging with. With the average cost of a call out costing £85, we can understand why. 


Dealing with complaints

Services will never be perfect all of the time so you need to be prepared for how to handle complaints. This is becoming more difficult to manage as more consumers are using social media as their channel of choice to voice their opinions.

Our research ‘The Radical Age of Uberization’ mentions that “70 percent of consumers raise complaints on social because they want to inform other consumers about the problem and raise awareness.”

For a service business, the smallest issues handled poorly in the realm of social media can be magnified quickly to an audience of millions. This instant opportunity for customers to voice their opinion can be an excellent tool for understanding your brand’s positioning if used correctly. However, the flip side is that social media is a two-way street. This incredibly powerful tool can easily be wielded by disgruntled customers in the full glare of the public. It takes a skilled and responsive approach to nullify the danger to your brand such service-related complaints can cause. Hand the keys to your social media account to the intern at your peril.

However it’s not all bad news according to Claire: “You don’t have to be perfect, and in fact if you handle something really well when it goes wrong then this, in fact, can sometimes make for better customer experiences. Customers will have more appreciation for the experience than getting it right.”  

Watch the entire keynote on-demand here.