Identifying the biggest change in the industry for field service providers

Identifying the biggest change in the industry for field service providers

Having seen in the opening section of the study, the largest single impact on our industry from the service providers’ perspective is the introduction of remote-service delivery; the next critical area for assessment within the design of the original study was to see how this would dovetail with the changing requirements from the customer side within a similar timeframe.

Again, we saw the requirements for increased remote service options appear as one of the top responses, with well over half of respondents (58%) stating this is a requirement they are receiving from their customers.


However, what was particularly interesting was that the options that scored both above and just below this also offered a glimpse of a world where remote service operations play a more central role in service and maintenance. These were faster response times and a better understanding of asset performance which were cited by 67% and 42% of respondents, respectively.


This indicates a growing alignment between the service provider and customer. One of the biggest challenges service organisations had pre-pandemic was outlining the value proposition of remote service as we shift to becoming an industry more focused on uptime guarantees than service level agreements.


As Sumair Dutta, Senior Director Product Marketing- Customer and Market Insights, ServiceMax commented during the debrief session; “while the provision of remote services growing so significantly was, of course, a big statistic from the study. However, I think that being grounded in the fact that customers are also demanding these services, it was the most important finding of this study for me.”


In our follow-up interviews, we also spent time with the service leaders involved to get their thoughts on the seeming alignment between the requirements for quicker service and better insight into asset performance on the customer side and the need to adopt remote service strategies on the service provider side.


“I think it is, in many ways, something that has been coming for a long time and the pandemic just brought us further down the path sooner, to be honest,” commented a senior service manager working in medical device manufacturing working across the DACH region.


“Increasingly, we have been moving towards guarantees of uptime, so we would say to our clients within your contract that your device will be operational when you need it.


“However, to do this does require remote access, and in some of the sectors we work in, this can be a challenge. We were seeing the barriers beginning to be removed slowly; however, when the pandemic struck, all objections were removed. The customers were saying, ‘if you can get it done, just get it done!’

“Now, however, while the urgency the pandemic has brought is less, these same customers who were very resistant before, have seen for themselves the benefits such an approach can bring to them. So yes, it makes sense to me that the study is reflecting this alignment.”


Another interviewee, working as a Customer Service Operations Director for a consumer electronics brand in France, explained that it is a convenience that their customers want.


“In our industry, and by that, I mean field service because I have worked in many other companies in service roles in other sectors, including telecommunications and white goods manufacturing, but whenever you are interacting with a customer as a consumer, rather than a business, over the years we have squeezed the appointment window down from a day to half a day, to an hour – and now you can track your engineer and stay updated just like you would an Uber taxi.


“This process has been done for one reason, because offering convenience to the customer, allows a service provider to deliver a competitive advantage. The obvious next step is for the customer not to wait at all for an engineer, but to be able to access an engineer when they need them through remote connectivity.”


“Even with installations, as the millennial generation gains more consumer power, they are more technically savvy, they don’t need an engineer to set things up, they just need an expert to troubleshoot if they run into a problem.


I think almost all services in the home will be done remotely in the future, or at least this will be the first approach, and then if an engineer is required they will be dispatched. This is not just because it is better for the service provider, although it is of course less expensive way to serve customers, but more importantly I think it is because this is what the customer will want and will expect.”


Again this echoes with Dutta’s comments during the debrief session. “The technology has existed for some time, but the fact is that there is now a need for it and a demand for it from some customers, I think is the biggest driving point for remote,” he explained.


“Traditionally, the idea in the customers’ mind would be that if something is broken while it was possible to try and resolve the problem remotely, it would simply be easier for them to wait for the service provider to send a technician to sort everything out. That is what they were paying for, which is the service they would expect.


“Now the customer is thinking that maybe it is not the easiest option to have a technician sent. Maybe there are new protocols or other challenges in place as a result of the pandemic so are there other ways we can make this faster, better and more efficient?


“I think because the customers are driving it from both a response point of view and from a safety point of view that is why the momentum we are seeing in terms of companies adopting remote services will become a sustained trend.”

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