In this latest excerpt from our current Beyond the Data report run in partnership with Salesforce we look at the increasing Uberisation of field service as we move beyond the pandemic…
When a taxi company (who own just one taxi) launched in 2011, few would have predicted the true magnitude of the disruption they would cause far beyond the private transportation sector. Now, almost every sector is seeking to find the key to Uberisation, and in field service, we are edging closer to defining how that looks…
The concept of Uberisation has been one that has permeated the executive circles of service organizations already for several years. Still, the consensus that the pandemic has brought that conversation to the very top of the agenda for many service organizations rang true across many of our follow up discussions in this research project.
“It is interesting because we have been hearing talk about Uberisation in the industry for a while,” explained one respondent, a service director within the IT Networking and Telecommunications sector responsible for a Europe-wide field workforce.
“It has been a discussion in our company for at least the last two years, and we’ve been trying to understand what that means for us in terms of field service. We had a rough idea of a road map of how to get there, and we were starting to move along that as part of a digital transformation program, but the pandemic meant we had to get there a lot faster.
“However, while we had to develop new ways of working to solve our customers problems particularly during the first lockdowns when there was a lot of uncertainty, what we felt was that the pandemic had made increased the customers need and want for speed when it comes to solving their problems.”
“We are looking at everything from processes, technology and how this impacts our people. We are also spending a lot of time looking at the metrics we measure as things are changing so much that we think some of the traditional metrics we have in place may no longer be needed while new KPIs may need to be introduced….”
Of course, with the arrival of such sweeping change, it is not only the processes and workflows of field service operations under review but the absolute core of what service delivery means. Both the service organizations and their customers alike will need to take a step back and re-examine some of the most foundational principles of their business drivers.
As Salesforce’s Michele Federici points out, MTTR, one of the most critical metrics measured by best-in-class service organizations in the past, almost becomes obsolete when remote-service is introduced.
Therefore, a revaluation of KPIs must be considered, and the outcomes the service organization is seeking to achieve must be equally examined in greater depth. This is something Salesforce’s Michael Kuebel outlined very clearly in the debrief session of this study program.
“I’ve been managing operations for 20 years and I always thought that one of the most difficult tasks is within change management to find the right KPIs. You can do so much wrong with KPIs because typically, you describe KPIs that are linked to your existing operational approach,” he explained.
“This means that everything that you do is optimizing within your existing approach; it’s not optimizing the approach itself. For example, you could have a service operation that is superb with first-time fix rates because your product is just not that good and so the problems are common and just easy to solve.
“The outcome of such a scenario is wasted money, time and resources as you have a lot of unnecessary call outs, but your first-time fix rates look great. If that is a metric you are focusing on, you might think the service department is performing above expectations.
“I think it is super important to define KPIs that are more customer-driven, KPIs that are more result-driven.
“We need to ask what is really what is the customer looking for? This becomes very evident when we look at preventive or predictive maintenance where you fix an issue before it becomes a problem. You will not see this in your first-time fix rates because there was no problem to fix so your traditional KPIs will fail.
“It’s important to re-examine KPIs on the outcome and when doing that to look from the customer perspective. The customer is looking into asset uptime, and the more we shift our contracts and our commercial models into outcomes like uptime and towards performance like output, the less it’s important for the customer to care about KPIs such as your first time fixed rates and the hourly rate of an engineer.
“Increasingly, the customer is likely to say ‘I want 99.95% uptime and if you give me this uptime, I don’t care how often you come and how much spares you need. I only care about the end result here.
“Essentially, KPIs should determine your ability to change the system itself, rather than optimize the system within which you were previously working.”
This is perhaps the biggest challenge that many field service organizations face as we appear to be moving quite firmly into a new normal where remote service becomes prevalent.
As one respondent who is Head of Services across the Northern European region for a company working in the Med-Tech space commented; “One of the big things we are looking at the moment is not so much whether we are going to continue utilizing remote services, it is clear that there is a win-win for our customers and us if we continue to do so. However, what we are trying to establish is how this fits within our service portfolio, or indeed if we need to completely redesign everything from the ground up to factor in what is a massive, massive shift in our whole approach to service delivery.
“Currently we are looking at everything from processes, technology and how this impacts our people. We are also spending a lot of time looking at the metrics we measure as things are changing so much that we think some of the traditional metrics we measure may no longer be needed while new KPIs may need to be introduced.”
Indeed, across all of the follow-up discussions we held around this study, there was a clear trend that emerged that the benefits of remote service had very much been acknowledged by service providers and their customers since the pandemic and so continued development and expansion of remote-service programs is highly likely to continue across the field service sector.
However, in terms of challenges of moving forward effectively, it would seem that most acknowledge that it is not technology that is a barrier, the technology is there and investment in digital transformation programs continues to see a boost driven by the pandemic.
However, the deep level thinking around the practicalities of introducing remote-service holistically into a service portfolio and what that means in terms of performance tracking and business operations, is perhaps going to be a more complex task entirely.
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