by Jeff Larson, Director, Account Management, OnProcess Technology

Field Service Management pros are facing some pretty substantial challenges thanks to skyrocketing consumer expectations and a delivery ecosystem that is fragmented and largely opaque. If they’re not properly addressed, they could put a significant dent in your business.

Here’s a quick look at the challenges we’re seeing and how to combat them:

Challenges:

  1. Customers are more demanding than ever
    If you thought historical 99.99% runtime expectations were aggressive, think again. Today’s consumers expect your products to be operating at even higher levels. And not only isn’t there any grace period for missed SLAs, customers are very willing to escalate if they don’t receive support that, they feel, goes above and beyond.
  1. Limited understanding of delivery roles and their impact
    It’s hard to provide exceptional support when the process that enables it encompasses so many functions and partners: If the support team can’t troubleshoot a problem themselves, they pass the call to dispatchers who schedule engineers. If an engineer isn’t available, they have to contract with another third-party. The team may also have to order a part and, if it’s not available, figure out how to source it. And of course, if parts are needed, they must also coordinate with logistics couriers. Because there are so many people involved, all of whom have limited visibility into the various functions and their interdependencies, steps often get lost in the process.
  1. Limited visibility into service partner performance
    Service partners don’t usually register their engineers on your platform. As a result, if a partner makes a last-minute schedule change, you may not find out after the service event has occurred and a customer has complained.
  1. New optimization tools are hindered by increasing customer exceptions
    To reduce OpEx, many companies are investing in software that automates routines. By coordinating activities between multiple departments, it can help reduce labor costs. However, what tends to happen is that many customers end up falling into exception categories, which can’t be automated. So instead of 20% exceptions, you now have 80% exceptions and only 20% flow-through – which leads to a very poor ROI. Additionally, as you use new methods to drive efficiencies, people’s roles naturally change. This means you need to conduct training so they can fully understand and effectively carry out their new responsibilities. If training isn’t robust enough, you’ll see a lot of hiccups in the process and continued inefficiencies.
  1. Field service staff are leery of change
    Field service staff often struggle to adapt to changes. They’re worried about labor reductions that come with efficiencies and dislike of concept of being tracked, which they think of as the “Big Brother Effect.”


Solutions

  1. Centralize your dispatch operations
    Have one team manage the continuous customer relationship, from coordinating parts and technicians through service completion. Make sure one group owns and has visibility into the entire end-to-end process. That’s the only way to ensure it’s managed effectively and that customers get the support they need. Because, as this diagram shows, even if each functional area meets its individual targets, it can still result in an overall low success rate. It has to be managed from an interdependent viewpoint.Centralize your dispatch operations - OnProcess
  1. Assign Partner-Specific Teams
    Put teams in place to coordinate with each service partner, and make sure they have visibility into one other. This will help ensure there are no misses with customers.
  1. Reallocate technician responsibilities
    Let engineers focus on servicing cases instead of administrative functions, like rescheduling visits and finding parts. This will streamline support while enabling field technicians to provide better attention to each customer and handle more cases.
  1. Revamp your exceptions process
    Implement a more rigorous approval process. Have support personnel provide details on why a particular case shouldn’t follow the norm. This will result in fewer exceptions, which means they won’t get held up in the system waiting to be processed and your customers will receive more expedient service.
  1. Establish open communications with employees
    You have to adopt open, honest communications with staff, particularly those who are struggling to adapt. Explain, and answer any questions they may have about, why your company is undergoing these changes and how they will benefit not just the company and the customer, but also the individual staff member. This will make the change process go more smoothly and will reduce the risk of mistakes that could cost you customers and money down the road.

How does this square with the challenges you and your colleagues are facing, and the tactics you’re using to address them? Is anything holding you back from providing exceptional field service management?

See how a centralized, data-driven approach to your post-sale supply chain operation can drive significant financial benefits. Read this case study.