Appointment-centric service scenarios

In the second of four deep-dive features where we explore the four service scenarios Gartner defined as being dominant in field service across the next five years we look at appointment-centric service scenarios…

 

Defined by Gartner as a scenario where there is a ‘Technician focused on personal interaction and scalable efficiency’, the appointment-centric scenario leans significantly into the benefits of having the field service engineer as a trusted adviser in direct communication with the customer.

 

Unlike the first two of Gartner’s scenarios discussed in this paper, the appointment-centric scenario doesn’t require a shift away from the traditional break-fix, SLA-centred approach to service contracts.

 

That is not to say that it is not suited to more proactive service approaches.

 

Indeed, there could be an excellent opportunity for aligning a proactive service visit with an opportunity to review current assets and service contracts with a subject matter expert that provides value to the customer and potential cross/up-sell opportunities to the service provider.

 

However, within the appointment-centric scenario, response times to break-fix service requests remain a priority, and a service organisation’s ability to meet these work orders within the timeframes outlined within the SLAs of the service contract is essential. 

 

With this in mind, such a model hugely depends on having the proper technological infrastructure to ensure the job cycle is optimised and as efficient as possible from initial contact for support right through to work-order completion.

 

A solid Field Service Management System in place, such as that offered by our partner on this paper, Gomocha, that incorporates order intake, dispatch and scheduling, mobile applications for work orders and more, is essential in such a model.

 

At its simplest, an appointment-based scenario can offer easy to understand, relatively transactional based service offering. While many organisations have tried to move away from such models towards more partnership-based, servitization flavoured models of service offerings; ultimately, the reality is that many service customers still only require this more traditional approach to service and maintenance contracts.

 

However, while it is, of course, always prudent to have a service offering that sits in line with the needs of the customer, that doesn’t mean that the only application of appointment-based service scenarios needs to be based around these more transactionally focused modes of service delivery.

 

As we touched on above, the trusted advisor role of the engineer offers a significant opportunity to get closer to the customer. Indeed, as we continue to increasingly move towards a world where the majority of our interactions with customers are digital, many have highlighted how this further emphasises the importance of the face-to-face service call.

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“The trusted advisor role of the engineer offers a significant opportunity to get closer to the customer. as we continue to increasingly move towards a world where the majority of our interactions with customers are digital, many have highlighted how this further emphasises the importance of the face-to-face service call...”

Out of all of the scenarios outlined by Gartner, the appointment-based model can harness the potential of having a member of your team who not only has the attention of the customer in a face-to-face environment but is also seen as a trusted advisor at the same time.

 

One potential approach put forward previously by Field Service News that would sit well within the appointment scenario would be to offer the customer a bi-annual proactive service evaluation.

 

This could entail the service provider sending one of their most experienced field service engineers to ensure all assets are optimised for maximum efficiency, reviewing potential ageing assets (potentially including competitor assets) and making recommendations for how the customer could further improve efficiency.

 

These additional service appointments would be supplementary to any additional break-fix SLAs within the existing service contract.

 

Such an approach, which also brings in elements of an equipment-centric model, would provide an opportunity to demonstrate added value to the customer, while for the service provider, aligning customer success, sales and service operations – bringing them closer to the customer and potentially opening the door for more in-depth servitization based contracts in the future if applicable.

 

This is perhaps the most crucial factor for consideration of the appointment-based scenario – it is clearly the most rooted to the existing status quo of field service operations of the four scenarios Gartner outlined.

 

However, in an age of digital transformation, it can appear that every organisation is seeking to redefine their service operations entirely, anchoring at least one foot in a means of service delivery that both we, as service providers and our customers, are comfortable with is likely no bad thing.

 

From a service provider’s position, the appointment-based model is almost certainly within the existing parameters of their current service operations.

 

For older legacy systems, it is essential to consider how tools like customer portals that allow for customer self-booking and automatic notifications are included in next-gen solutions such as Gomocha to help refine that process. 

 

Yet, alongside this core element of service, we can also see the potential for acquiring a more significant share of customer wallets by ensuring that trust is built through great face-to-face interactions.

 

Additionally, while knowledge of the customers’ operations and broader understanding of the sector they serve are valuable, particularly when positioning the engineer as a brand ambassador and trusted advisor, unlike an outcome-based model, such knowledge is likely to be seen as a significant value add, as opposed to a pre-requisite.

 

In summary, if an organisation were to take an appointment-centric approach to field service, they should consider the following:

 

  • Is there FSM systems(s) solution capable of ensuring they stay firmly within SLAs?
  • Do their FSM systems(s) allow for empowering the field service engineer when on-site with the customer?
  • Does their FSM system(s) include functionality that customers now expect (such as self-service scheduling and customer notifications)
  • How can they maximise the face-to-face presence of the service engineer and their trusted advisor status?
  • If suitable, could such a model underpin a service portfolio and represent an opportunity to engage with customers in more complex service offerings such as outcome-based models?

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