What should field service companies focus on in 2016? Tom Bowe, Industry Director, Enterprise Service Management, IFS, provides his expert insight
The holiday season is upon us, and beyond that, just around the corner, lies another year. You may already be suffering from a bombardment of messaging around “predictions for field service in 2016” or “top trends for field service in 2016.”
Truth be told, it is an exciting time to be in field service.
The world is changing rapidly, the profile of your average consumer is ever evolving, and technology is changing the service landscape along with expectations, the market, and more.
Trends like augmented reality, IoT, wearable technology, and 3D printing are poised to change the entire approach to field service, rocking the fundamental structures and foundations of service delivery that have taken years to develop.
The end of the year is a good time to conduct an audit of your service processes.
We have sifted through all the messaging this year for you; surveys, industry articles, field service forums, and customer feedback, and boiled it down to four tips to help you achieve service delivery excellence next year.
Consider using these tips as a beacon to help you achieve customer delight while gaining market share and maximising service margin in 2016.
Establish a Baseline
Whether you are lacking in the analytics department or you have analytics coming out of your ears, the end of the year is a good time to conduct an audit of your service processes. Map out your service lifecycle and pinpoint where your strengths and weaknesses are. Here are some things that are always good to evaluate at the end of the year:
- Employees: Which of your customer facing employees are consistently performing above average? Are they being incentivised to continue their good work? What about those below average? Is there something in place to help them improve?
- Processes: Which parts of your service operations are working well and which aren’t? Are the process issues manual or software related? Where are there holes in your automation or lags in efficiency?
- Systems: How solid are your integrations? Is data being lost or corrupted between systems? Is everything talking to each other the way it should?
If evaluating your current operations and establishing a baseline is harder than you would like it to be, consider investing in enterprise operational intelligence software. The ability to visualise your entire operation and use real-time analytics to directly impact processes and solve issues will help drive intelligent decision making in 2016.
Go Back to the Basics
New field service trends like IoT have the potential to completely eliminate reactive service and save millions in operational costs, but if you don’t have efficient processes in place before adopting these trends, their potential will never be achieved.
It’s no good to have a piece of equipment out in the field triggering an urgent request for service if you don’t have the means to get the right technician, with the right skills and the right equipment there in a timely fashion.
Start with the Customer
Steve Jobs famously said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.”
Listening to your customers is more important than ever. Customer surveys and other forms of communication with your customer base are vital to helping you deliver the best customer service possible.
Let them tell you what they want and adjust your service delivery standards accordingly. It’s always important to remember that the escalator of service is always moving.
What might have been customer delight (unbelievable service) last year may be considered basic now. Keeping up with customer expectation and the scale of service will help you deliver continued service excellence.
Pick a Uniquely Inspired Future Path
Perhaps the most important tip that we can offer is don’t get swept up in the hype. Every service organisation is on a unique path with unique offerings and ultimately unique goals.
Service delivery excellence is best achieved when a balance is found between listening to your customers, keeping up with changing technology and its effect on the market, and operating your service centre as a profit centre.
Predictions and top trends for 2016 are only good on paper if they don’t fit your organisation’s vision. Don’t let that hold your innovation hostage…let your desire to provide your customers with unique, inspiring experience carve your path to service excellence in 2016.
Good luck and season’s greetings from IFS.