Is Quantum Computing The Future Of Customer Experience And Service Optimisation?

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With a new US patent approved for their Quantum Computing algorithm, Marne Martin, CEO of ServicePower explains her vision for what the future of customer experience excellence will look like and outlines the path her organisation can offer to consumer-focused organisations as they begin rolling out a raft of new CX tools…

The last time Field Service News sat down and spoke with Marne Martin, ServicePower’s bold and ebullient CEO, for a formal interview, it was to discuss their recent acquisition by private equity firm Diversis at the beginning of this year.

At that point, Martin was keen to express the fact that it was she who had courted investment with a vision to expand upon their product suite more rapidly than they could through organic means alone and that this acquisition was not just another PE shark circling the rich pickings of the Field Service Management sector. At the time Martin commented ‘I felt that we were 75% and we were really looking for someone to get us to 100% of where we saw the opportunity in the sector not just for the current but in the future.”

I felt that we were 75% and we were really looking for someone to get us to 100% of where we saw the opportunity in the sector not just for the current but in the future.”

Of course, many a CEO has said similar things in the past having just been acquired, a message of confidence is par for the course to keep the client base assured that their future is still safe in a steady pair of hands. But just how far along the path Martin outlined have ServicePower come in the last six months?

“We are completely thrilled with the progress we have made already in 2017” Martin responds when this question is put to her. “We’ve been supplementing the talent that we already have by bringing in some really great people and we will continue doing that, as it’s allowing us to constantly move forward with the development efforts and plans that we already had in place.”

One thing that has certainly seemed to materialise since the acquisition is a greater outward projection of where their core market lies. For Field Service Solution providers this can be a challenge within itself as field service straddles so many vertical industries, which whilst sharing many shared pain points and challenges, also have their own specific vertical nuances to be considered as well.

Yet whether it’s the result of some business refinement that came out of the acquisition process, or whether it is simply something they are now verbalising that little bit more, ServicePower now seem to have a very clear understanding of their target market.

“All of this [development] is around really expanding our dominance in consumer industries” Martin explained. “We sell B2B but we are enabling the consumer experience for our customers so we are essentially B2B2C primarily, ServicePower is really unique in dominating that positioning. The other field service providers are either more focused on preventative maintenance or other such aspects of the sector. We really are the only field service company that has this domination and focus in the consumer sector and that empower our customers to cultivate consumer experience as they deliver it – whether that be through different service routes or through different types of technicians.”

But how does this translate into actual developments of the solution?

“The new customer experience will incorporate a lot more of web service front end User Interfaces that we are coding with the latest programming standards,” Martin tells us.

It is really designed to give customers a better digital experience whilst also making call centres more productive and for the technicians

“It is really designed to give customers a better digital experience whilst also making call centres more productive and for the technicians, the mobile tech enablement is better. We’ve done a huge amount of R&D on how integrated ecosystems deliver a much-improved customer experience but actually it is better for every stakeholder in the service continuum.”

“I firmly believe, and so do many of our customers, that the customer and the tech want the same thing – a great experience,” she continued.

“That is either an experience where things don’t break – because of processes like tailored proactive maintenance or incorporating IoT diagnostics to leverage what you know about the assets, or if they do require repair then we’re facilitating a repair experience that doesn’t necessarily require a truck roll, ideally they’re able to do some remote maintenance and fix it without coming into the client’s home.”

“However, if there does have to be a truck roll, if they do need to come to the client’s home – then they should be making sure they are coming into the home at a time that’s convenient for the customer and with the best knowledge about the asset possible – that is how you facilitate the first-time-fix. So now you are seeing the first few steps to making this all happen and soon you’ll also see some of the additional predictive types of improvements that we’re also rolling out with Smarter Field Service and the new algorithm.”

“In fact, we were recently awarded a new US patent for our quantum annealing work and you’ll definitely be seeing the further evolution of this vision as we move into 2018.”

Now, it was felt in some corners that it was ServicePower’s research work into Quantum Annealing that made them such an attractive proposition for investment in the first place. However, up until now the conversation had centred mainly around theoretical research ServicePower had undertaken.

But if this research work is set to move into the practical realm, then this could truly be a game changer for field service optimisation.

What I think will be the service experience of the future for our customers, is tying in the power of this quantum computing algorithm not just to do the traditional pipe of ‘technician-route-schedule-optimisation’ but also to think about optimisation across the different types of service.

“What’s interesting to me and what I think will be the service experience of the future for our customers, is tying in the power of this quantum computing algorithm not just to do the traditional pipe of ‘technician-route-schedule-optimisation’ but also to think about optimisation across the different types of service. For example, having more flexible work queues or how you triage and route the delivery of service for a customer – all through digital enablement,” Martin explains.

“Say for example, a customer hits our new intelligent customer portal – you can send them to a process, you can use IoT diagnostic information, or upload photos or whatever type of triage type of information that you have, then depending on how you assess that you might then send them through to a work queue that is optimised and we can have a dynamic work-flow between back-office activities, call centre activities, technician experiences and triage assessment activities.”

“We’re actively thinking about how to use our quantum annealing algorithm in a more flexible way to optimise the total service experience. What I have seen is that even amongst our customers and prospects that have an IoT diagnostic group, they are not working that information into an integrated service experience.”

“They might have some techs that are trained in that or the might have an elite network that is doing it, but they are not tying it into the overall workflow and optimising a more efficient service experience.”

“Ultimately you only want to send a technician on site when you really have to and as much as possible you want to make sure that when the technician gets on-site they’re able to do what the customer really needs – which is, of course, a first-time-fix.”

This scenario is, of course, the ideal field service win-win-win. The customer is happier because they are back up and running, the engineer is happier because they have a better work-life balance and less angry customers and the board is happier because they are seeing improvements to the bottom line. Indeed, if it is achievable, we are getting close to field service nirvana.

Martin concludes: “We are also looking at how we can use the quantum computing power looking at demand forecasting, capacity planning, and parts information, focusing on consumer industries and how we deliver a great service experience. It is about so much more than just the technology – it is a whole integrated approach that looks at the digital journey with the customer, the call centre and mobile technician enablement.”

It seems that Martin and her team at ServicePower are undeniably still on the right path to deliver the future of customer experience.

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