Covid-19 and the Conversations with Our Customers...

The Covid-19 crisis has impacted the field service sector significantly. In a world of lockdown, accessing customer sites to provide essential maintenance has been challenging in most cases, and impossible in others. However, as we look towards the next normal, while reassessing our processes is critical, the most crucial part of the equation is going to be understanding the challenges and new requirements of our customers…


Indeed, the impact of the lockdown and the fundamental way that businesses have had to rethink core processes just to be able to reopen in line with new regulations will have continuing on-going impacts across, particularly when it comes to placing our field workers on their re-opened sites.


“One of the questions we should begin to expect is ‘where has your engineer been today?’” commented Ged Cranny, Konica Minolta.


“When the engineer gets to the third call in a day, there is a risk that the customer is going to reject that engineer because his attending other sites may compromise their bio-security. There are going to be issues in this vein, and this is why we’ve got to think about remote as default because it’s an excellent opportunity for us to this to set the conversation in motion to customers,” Cranny added. 


Not only does this present a challenge in terms of operational processes, but it also could bring questions to the forefront of the customer’s perception of the value proposition of the service delivery being provided.


“One significant benefit of the presence of a service engineer on-site is the visibility…”

– Tony Chapman, Siemens


“One significant benefit of the presence of a service engineer on-site is the visibility,” suggests Tony Chapman, General Manager, Customer Services, Siemens.


“You make sure you park your car in a prominent position when you get there, have your have a banner down the side of your van, and you make sure you the customer sees that they are getting something of value. With remote service such as we’re talking about now, you’ve got to promote what you’ve done for the customer because without that presence; the customer may think ‘we’re paying X amount a year for a contract and I see nothing for it.’


“The machines are working, but the customer may ask is that what we [in service] are doing or are they just just working anyway?”


This is something that will absolutely need careful consideration for each field service organisation when it comes to understanding what is the best way forward for their approach to service delivery in a post-covid world. 


“I think it’s an excellent point that the customer experience or brand experience is a key differentiator,” comments Jan van Veen, Managing Director, MoreMomentum.


“As soon as you can deliver certain services with less interaction, the concept is either going to shift and disappear…”

– Jan van Veen, moreMomentum. 


However, Van Veen, also warns us that we must be prepared for future adaptions before we settle into the new normal.


“However, I believe that, this game also is going to change – because as soon as you can deliver certain services with less interaction, the concept is either going to shift and disappear or it will shift to another kind of value where you have still human interaction,” Van Veen adds. 


However, one thing is in clear agreement in the group. That is that while we as service organisations can and should be listening closely to the needs of the customer, equally, we have a responsibility to lead our customers towards a more effective means of service delivery wherever possible. 


“I think the onus is really on us, especially now coming out of this pandemic, to be able to go back and explain to the customer what the true value is and having that information and data from whatever tool we’re using, to go back and prove to the customer the value that we have shared,” Kieran Notter, Vice President, Global Customer Transformation, ServiceMax comments before admitting “that’s one of the things that we as service organizations don’t necessarily do very well.”


Certainly, it is an area where on the whole the service operational leaders must learn to improve, and now is the perfect time to do just that. 


All members of the Field Service Think Tanks are speaking from their own personal opinions which are not necessarily reflective of the organisations they work for. 

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