There is no escaping the threat of the Coronavirus as it hits communities across the globe. It seems that no one is immune to it, not even the Aftermarket Service Industry.
Business leaders and managers will need to do everything they can to get through this current crisis. While we might have the knee jerk reaction to throw our hands up in the air and proclaim, "we've never seen anything like this before," the truth is we have the means and ability to respond.
It is highly likely that selected segments of the economy, those businesses that are deemed essential, will continue to operate at peak capacity and require high levels of service availability. Take, for example, supermarkets and grocery stores. These establishments can't tolerate downtime of any of the equipment operating on their premises. Neither can other participants in this ecosystem, such as the wholesale distributors and trucking companies, who are responsible for getting products to market.
Here are six (6) ways that manufacturers can leverage business strategies and technology they've already implemented to ensure there is no disruption to service:
1. Rely on Cloud-Based Enterprise Systems: To respond to social distancing and self-isolation issues, Manufacturers and their Service Provider Networks need to ensure they have secure and reliable cloud-based systems in place to support a mobile workforce and remote workers, such a tech support personnel, who may otherwise be working from their company's premises.
2. Maintain High First Time Fix Rate: Given the fact the extensive downtime is intolerable for essential businesses and Field labor might be scarce due to illnesses, manufacturers must ensure that have technicians who are working can easily find the parts and knowledge they need to resolve services right the first time. There's no room for repeat visits. The following solutions are critical to achieving high first-time fix:
Service Knowledge Management - A unified knowledge management platform provides technicians with single sign-on access to disparate knowledge artifacts, including but not limited to manuals, bulletins, schematics, augmented reality tools, etc. This type of platform significantly reducing the amount of time it takes technicians to find relevant knowledge and reduces the burden on telephone support personnel to assist with technicians with technical support issues.
Service Parts Management – The combination of inventory tracking, parts locator, and electronic parts catalogs can ensure technicians have access and visibility to spare parts where and when they need them. These features minimize the potential that service visits may be extended on hold or abandoned due to a lack of parts.
3. Connect with Dealer and Service Provider Networks: Manufacturers will need to ensure that their dealers and service providers have access to data, knowledge, and information to support the end customer. The manufacturer may also need to turn to these networks to provide expanded coverage and support if many their service personnel are on sick leave. A Channel Portal improves the collaboration and communication between manufacturers and their dealer/service provider network to enhance customer satisfaction and optimize service experience.
4. Route service requests to Customer Self- Service or Remote Support: In dealing with social distancing, manufacturers can alter or modify service delivery by transitioning from onsite field service to a Customer Self-Service or Remote Support model. Manufacturers must have the right technology and processes in place to facilitate this model. Online customer portals, guided troubleshooting, same day/next day parts delivery, AR/MR, parts catalogs, and knowledge bases are all part of this model.
5. Use Dashboards to track the performance of Remote Workers: Companies must continuously monitor the performance of remote workers to ensure high levels of productivity. For example, Managers can do this by logging into a dashboard to review the daily service tickets opened and closed by remote Customer Service Reps (CSRs). They could then follow the steps taken to process the service tickets as well as view the completion date and time these actions, assuming time and date stamp features are part of the solution.
6. Build value and goodwill with customers: During this current health crises, some customers may be faced with economic hardships and contemplate canceling their service contracts or placing their renewals on hold. Manufacturers can pre-empt this and build goodwill by offering some level of "freemium" service or flexible payment terms. They can also extend the length of service contracts or explain to customers the contingency plans that they have put in place will not cause any disruption to their service. Another of building goodwill is by educating customers on the strategies and tactics they can implement to stay safe and avoid any disruption to service.
Eventually, we will all pull through this crisis and come out of it stronger and more resilient than ever before. Manufacturers mustn't lose sight of the fact that they have the tools and strategies at their disposal to respond to this crisis effectively. Those who don't must act now and deploy these solutions since these solutions will still be relevant and required in the future. Within every crisis lies an opportunity as the old saying goes.