During the second half of 2020, your company's field services operations will build its road forward. Initiatives previously tabled for further discussion later are now immediate concerns. Automating knowledge management, service delivery and parts availability for web-based availability, is now top-of-mind. Considering customer access and contact is becoming increasingly difficult, pandemic-fueled necessity is driving attention to cloud-based information access and workflow.
The catalyst for single system automation is customer requirements for multiple channels of service, due to their location accessibility. From the provider side, there are issues with service staff and subcontractor availability due to lockdowns, shelter in place mandates, and above-average sick-leave situations. Agility and flexibility are now inflection points for resource and staff planning.
With social distancing and self-quarantine issues, field services must ensure they have secure and reliable cloud-based systems in place to facilitate telecommuting. Organizations must ensure that technicians can easily find the parts and knowledge they need to resolve services efficiently from any location.
"Field service entities will need to implement the right technology and processes to facilitate the cloud-based field service management model, integrating Customer Self-Service or Remote Support." Michael Blumberg, CMO, Mize
With social distancing continuing to be an operational reality for the foreseeable future, service delivery will need to be modified to accommodate. One pivot will include adding or upgrading Customer Self-Service or Remote Support abilities to supplement traditional service procedures. To accomplish this, companies will need to implement the technology and processes to facilitate this model. Guided troubleshooting, same day/next day parts delivery, Augmented Reality/Merged Reality, online customer portals, parts catalogs, and knowledge bases are needs to address.
If the right Connected Customer Experience automated environment is established, companies will accomplish these beneficial service offering tools. This creates a long-lasting benefit of building goodwill and strengthening relationships with all their stakeholders. Now more than ever, managers will need to interact with employees who work from home, through online communication platforms to ensure high levels of productivity and morale.
With customers, some may be faced with economic hardships and contemplate canceling their service contracts or placing their renewals on hold. Organizations can pre-empt this and bolster brand loyalty by offering freemium services and flexible payment terms. They can also extend the length of service contracts reflecting contingency plans they have put in place to provide service continuation.
Field Service During a Recession
If economists (and history) are accurate, a global recession will result from the pandemic. While fiscal recovery estimates vary, Service Leaders need to prepare now. Actions include reducing or recovering costs and create value. For field service organizations, a large percentage of operating expenses may be tied up in their parts inventory and labor. Strategies need to be implemented to reduce parts stock and recover the value from excess and obsolete inventory. Also, implement processes and systems to ensure the right parts are on hand at the right place, when technicians and customers self-servicing need them to provide high first-time fix rates.
"Field service need to bolster their plans for broader strategic initiatives like Digital Transformation and Servitization." Michael Blumberg, CMO, Mize
As field service remains flexible with resource planning and allocation, it may be advantageous to either outsource some or all of logistics operations to reduce costs. Another option is to turn to service provider networks and subcontractors to assist load management. To enable this, having a cloud-based, service implementation infrastructure that integrates with ERPs and line of business systems is advantageous, to connect and share data with all stakeholders and participants involved. This becomes the cornerstone to a company's Digital Transformation and Servitization objective, one that turns pure product sales plays into a service lifecycle approach to keep customers tied to the brand. Ultimately, the company-customer relationship becomes customer lifecycle management, maximizing customer lifetime value, and generating revenue from a satisfied installed base. While this is a transitional undertaking, it starts with creating the Connected Customer Experience.
Tim Nissen has built companies through marketing in categories including technology, manufacturing, energy, commercial real estate and business services.