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Connected Customer Experience

How Field Service Operations Will Manage the Pandemic

Author Tim Nissen on Jun-17-2020

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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.

Why Servitization Practices are Moving from a Product Focus to a Service-First Model

Author Tim Nissen on Jun-3-2020

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Seemingly every company touts a customer-first focus. Though for manufacturers, an accurate admission is that their concentration is squarely on their products. It’s a common trap: manufacturers have people and processed that primarily think from the product vantage, with systems and technology infrastructure that keeps this mindset prominent.

Is this a profitable way forward?

Trends are indicating it’s not.

Many manufacturers are planning for a (near) future where they will become service companies that also sell products. This action of servitization, or a service-first model, calls for a thorough transformation of their business. Market intelligence analyst International Data Corporation (IDC) defines servitization as product as a service, which includes selling usage, uptime, power by the hour, remote monitoring, and service analytics. The driver behind this new mindset has been enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected products, which have provided manufacturers with real-time data on the product that can be turned into insights, outcomes and, ultimately, new services and products.

According to IDC's 2017 Product and Service Innovation Survey, the top two business priorities for manufacturers in the next three to four years are improving sales and revenue generation and expanding to new markets. These goals will be sped up by manufacturers innovating their service offerings, creating an enhanced value proposition for the customer. This will require transforming their mindset and their go-to-market approach. Many industries are being adversely affected by product commoditization of products, impacting their ability to both grow revenue and/or move into new markets. An area of differentiation in this environment is the services that can be provided, and relationships that are built with customers. Brand loyalty is rapidly eroding; an impacting factor being anything touching technology, with many competitors offering similar products, hitting the market simultaneously. Providing customers value through service enables manufacturers to get closer to the customer and builds bonds, and brand loyalty, that’s lasting.

The IDC study’s premise is that manufacturers can evolve from being primarily product focused to partnering with customers to deliver value through service. This transformation involves the entire organization and demands manufacturers rethink value and what the future of their business should look like.

"The search for new revenue streams has driven manufacturers to think about new ways they can deliver value to customers. In an environment where products can quickly become a commodity, the ability to solve customer problems and provide enhanced experiences has created an environment where manufacturers have begun to explore service-first model," said Aly Pinder, program director Service Innovation and Connected Products. "Transforming from a product focus to a service-first model, however, demands that manufacturers rethink the entire way they have been doing business. This is not just another initiative or product launch. Manufacturers need to bring the whole team to the table in order to successfully evolve to a state of selling services and not just products.”

Discover more. Attend the webinar “Create Enhanced Customer Experiences by Reimagining Service Lifecycle Management,” with guest presenter Aly Pinder himself. The event’s June 25th, 2020 at 1 PM EST/12 PM CST

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