Insights from Ashok Kartham, Founder and CEO of Mize, discussing Key Technologies for Field Service Operations during a roundtable interview at the 11th Annual Extended Warranty and Service Contracts Innovations Conference.
Antonia Kay, Worldwide Business Research: Could you tell us about your pre-pandemic service strategy and the shifts you’ve seen after COVID-19’s impact on the industry?
Ashok Kartham, Mize: Field service before was primarily focused on managing a workforce, scheduling, and routing. Now, we see most companies are accelerating their shift towards digitizing more customer interactions, mobile connections with products and enabling their technicians with the right knowledge, parts, and remote assistance. A few examples we have seen in the last several months:
A farm equipment company enabled direct connection from a technician’s mobile device for On-Board Diagnostics. The diagnostic surfaces provide live information from the product and directly link to the right service procedures based on error codes while providing parts recommendations and remote assistance.
An appliance manufacturer has been using collaborative video directly within any transaction to assist customers, technicians, and service teams remotely.
Most of our customers are now consolidating service applications globally to deliver Knowledge, Parts, and Diagnostic information together with Work Order or Support request, all from a single platform.
Kay: What were some of the steps you took to optimize the performance of your technology infrastructure because of the pandemic?
Kartham: We have seen increased usage of our CX platform orchestrate all service interactions globally on various digital channels. Most of our customers have commented on how seamlessly they have been able to shift to work from home without impacting their service to customers. Many are considered critical because they participate in food or health care supply chains, and their access is needed to continue operations.
As a cloud-based SaaS platform, we scale well to meet unique customer-specific needs. We also adapted more auto-scaling, added clusters of microservices, and support large feeds of data from both products and field techs.
Because of the shift to touchless service, customer-facing portals and apps have become more critical to process support and service requests, to deliver content, process payments, and provide direct access to information to directly to OEMs’ customers on their behalf.
Kay: Were there any hidden business opportunities that your company identified and started capitalizing on because of the pandemic?
Kartham: Because of economic impact, some customers are keeping the products longer. So there is an opportunity to generate additional revenue from services, service contracts, and parts or consumables.
Visibility to truck stock and parts inventory in the field has become more critical when parts supply chains are disrupted.
Customer self-service became more common, with companies sending parts for their customers to resolve issues themselves.
In some industries, Depot repair is also being used more frequently, so products can be shipped to a central, controlled location to be repaired and sent back.
Kay: Is there any advice you’d like to share with our attendees who are trying to figure out how to drive business continuity moving forward?
Kartham: One key trend that we all agree on is the benefit of digitalizing all service interactions and consolidation of service lifecycle management globally. Moving to Cloud with defined service level agreements has provided the best way for customers to provide continuity. It also enables connectivity with products and stakeholders, including parts supply chain partners and product end-users.
Also, most companies have added Technician Health Checks and use the information in dispatching. We need health and safety built into all transactions. Digitalized environments help provide it.
Tim Nissen has built companies through marketing in categories including technology, manufacturing, energy, commercial real estate and business services.