What matters – execution. We are in an industry, field service, where it is all about execution. Service excellence only is possible when a job gets done, ideally the first time.
How many times do we see people around us procrastinating, not showing up on time, having the wrong tools for the job?
Retail giants have been built around service, getting what you need fast, ease of returns, having items in stock, great customer service, the list goes on. It was likely the auto industry that first started coining the term service excellence. They are also leaders in working to get technology into the car, but the ability to predict failure in the auto industry is still behind. Sensors tell you when something is broken, and they still rely on conventional maintenance schedules rather than being intelligently able to calibrate wear, driving conditions and unique use patterns.
And speaking of the automotive industry… just recently I had new tires put on my vehicle, a pretty basic thing. Unfortunately, the technician apparently did not install the air pressure sensor correctly so after driving for some time on it, it started to loosen, and the air leaked out of my tire while at work (the low air pressure light came on as I was leaving the garage and it went flat within half a mile from the office). Of course by then the local Tysons Corner, VA dealership was closed, and the normally esteemed LandRover roadside assist service then took more than two hours to get someone to me not finding the closest technician but having whoever accepted the job come from all the way on the other side of DC through rush hour traffic. This was a case where the solution being used was clearly not up to the task and not meeting customer expectations. And to compound it, the next day the service manager at the dealership argued with me that his technician did nothing wrong. Not an exemplary service experience in many ways…
In our industry, there is still great demand to work around improving the efficiency of break-fix activities in terms of first time completes and jobs per day, especially as products become more complex, and optimizing travel times. We work heavily at ServicePower to bring that value to our customers with our products. However, soon, the ability to optimize break-fix will only be the first start of the journey. We are looking at conditional scheduling, predictive intelligence, how to work to anticipate something breaking and preventing or anticipating it. That will be the next step as companies differentiate themselves against their competitors and address reduced service margins. We also need to make sure that we continue to help our clients to drive completes per day, not just busy work, but the bottom line results that drive their ability to earn money. They also have to be organizing schedules where batch schedules done the night before or days before without the ability to optimize during the day don’t fit many of the work flows seen today in the service organization.
Customers are now beyond a product that just says that a technician is running late and changes the schedule. No, they want a software that works to get the appointment completed when it is supposed to be done. And then, it is one thing to get a technician to a customer fast, but if they can’t finish the job on that first visit, it costs money and customer inconvenience to come back, so customers want a software that can track the skills, local knowledge and parts to get it done. This is how Gartner’s nexus of forces drives real value for businesses and their end customers.
It was interesting to see the news that PTC purchased Axeda just as we are getting ready to gear up our first M2M pilots with Bosch Software Innovations. The ability to use M2M data and drive real time intelligence, conditional scheduling and predictive intelligence is large in field service. We are finding new verticals to apply it to, and that will be very interesting to see as we make progress. Aberdeen put out a great study about the importance of leveraging advance technologies to dynamically schedule and manage technicians in the field, and it is clear that many companies are now looking to commercialize the capabilities that exist. We at ServicePower have structured our products and the technology roadmap we are on that we can integrate with multiple or different CRM and ERP vendors, and have the ability to fill certain gaps in parts inventory systems as well depending on the need of the client. That level of adaptability is important as we focus on what we are good at, and let the CRM and ERP vendors focus on what they are good at. We are specializing in being a bolt on product that will drive ROI for our customers while working with the systems they have.
Unfortunately, the LandRover call center didn’t tell me their software vendor, so instead, we will have to focus on optimizing the results our clients get. And in the meantime, if you know someone that makes the software decisions for LandRover, send me an e-mail!