September 2014 - The Service Council

Considering the Field Service Experience

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

When we speak of consumerization in field service, we often think of the impact that consumer devices, such as smart phones and tablets have had on field service delivery. We might also think about the impact of consumer applications on enterprise field service workflows, making it easier and simpler for technicians to access their necessary field service information. In essence, if they could do it with what they had at home, then why not at work? Most of our thoughts around consumerization in field service revolve around the technology available to field technicians.

An area where consumerization is likely to permeate the enterprise field service space is in the area of field service experience. We have all heard of customer experience management and its impact of customer loyalty and commitment. But most customer experience management discussions revolve around service delivered via the channels of the contact center such as email, voice, chat, social, or the web. However, very little attention is paid to the experience delivered to a customer during a field service visit.

Perhaps I should say that very little attention ‘was’ paid. In field service visits to direct customers, organizations are spending a lot more time focusing on the experience associated with the visit. This starts with the appointment booking process and extends all the way to post-visit feedback process. Organizations are focusing on areas such as:

  • Ease of getting an appointment
  • Ease of canceling or rescheduling appointments via text or web-based channels
  • Precise and shorter service windows
  • Alerts on technician status on the day of service
  • Technician likeability
  • Technician professionalism and concern for customer (not just getting the job done but doing so in a manner that shows concern for the customer’s premises and time)
  • Summarizing work and ease of adding new services
  • Capturing customer feedback

Therefore its not just about someone showing up at any point in the day to solve your service issue, but its more about minimizing the inconvenience of what is considered to be a painful situation for most customers. And with that in mind its also the hope of turning a field visit into a positive experience for both servicing organization and customer.

In times when we shy away from in-person and face-to-face communications, and it is extremely difficult for organizations to connect with their customers, a field visit offers a unique opportunity wherein customers provide a window of time and attention to the servicing organization. During this time, much can be learned about customer preferences and annoyances and what can be done in the future to align with the former and avoid the latter. There is also the opportunity to make customers aware of other valuable services that can prevent service inconveniences in the future or improve the usage experience of that particular product and service. Customers can also use that time to learn more from their visiting field agents around getting the most from their investment in that provider’s goods and services.

Now, it is vital that the particular service issue a field visit is scheduled for gets resolved effectively. Without that, investments made to improve the field service experience are mostly wasted. But when paired with issue resolution and effective field service, a unique field service experience can go a long way in delighting customers. And these customers might begin to expect the same type of field service experience in their multi-million dollar enterprise relationships.

Riding the Field Service Wave: Thoughts from ClickSoftware’s Annual Customer Conference

By John Carroll | News, Perspective | No Comments

Last week I ventured out to San Diego where The Service Council will be hosting the 2015 Smarter Services Executive Symposium (March 10-12 – Rancho Bernardo Inn). The trip was timed well as I had the opportunity to attend ClickSoftware’s annual customer conference, ClickConnect (#ClickConnect). Over 300 guests (a record for ClickConnect) came together and were treated to case studies from industry practitioners such as National Grid, KinCare, SaskTel and Ledcor. Guests were also able to hear the latest innovations from ClickSoftware and its expanding partner ecosystem which includes Fleetmatics, Accenture, and more.

Color (391 of 875)

San Diego Note: While I didn’t literally “ride the wave” at ClickConnect, some did at the Wave House on Mission Beach. Kudos to ClickSoftware for putting on a very fun event on Tuesday night. A snapshot of some of the brave souls who did.

As is customary, the event opened with a keynote presentation delivered by Founder & CEO, Dr. Moshe BenBassat who remarked on several key milestones achieved over the previous year, including:

  • Crossing the 600,000 Barrier Field Resource mark (note: in Sumair Dutta’s 2013 ClickConnect Analysis, highlights from Moshe’s opening keynote included crossing the 500,000 Field Resource mark which indicates continued positive growth for ClickSoftware)
  • 55 New Enterprises added to the ClickSoftware Customer Community (an impressive tally for the 12 month period)
  • 700 Million Consumers served enabled by ClickSoftware technology (equating to 10% of the world population)

Moshe, known for coining the phrase “Service Chain Optimization”, introduced guests to the ServiceEnvelope™; an index which looks at the “maximum attainable output for a given level of resource input”. He strongly urged guests to “Master Your Moment” and to identify and push their ServiceEnvelope™. This was an interesting philosophy presented, which aligns to our definition of Smarter Services™. I suspect this is something that could resonate at both the management, as well as, at the operations level (with the appropriate incentives to drive this behavior).

On Wednesday, a keynote presentation was delivered by friend of The Service Council (she keynoted last year’s Smarter Services Symposium) Frances X. Frei, UPS Foundation Professor of Service Management at Harvard University and co-author of the book Uncommon Service.

Prevailing theme. Optimize. This year’s event theme was “Connect & Optimize”. Equating Maslow’s Hierarchy to the world of service, the pyramid featured 5 levels, which included (stacked in order from bottom to the top of the pyramid):

  • Connectivity (Field Resources & Customers)
  • Visibility (Into Field & Basic Reporting)
  • Reporting & Analytics
  • Decision Support
  • Intelligent Optimization

Maslow’s Hierarchy applied to the world of service has close ties to a concept, the Mobile Maturity Model, we reviewed during a webcast we held in collaboration with ClickSoftware in early 2014 featuring ClickSoftware’s customer Severn Trent on the topic The Mobile Workforce Management Revolution (to request a copy of this webcast, click here).

Best practices of note. There were several key takeaways or best practices of note to take from the event, including:

  • Demand more from & Invest in your Field Engineers. Jimmy Byrd, President, Technical Services at Ledcor (another friend of The Service Council who previously spoke at our event) encouraged guests to take care of their current field engineers but to demand more, providing an overview of an initiative where Ledcor aims to double the output from their existing field engineer group while also making them the highest paid in the industry. Opportunities for improvement (cost reduction) was boiled down to:
    • Turnover ($25,000/tech x 100 techs = $2,500,000)
    • Re-work (500,000 dispatches/year x $75/dispatch = $375,000)
    • Productivity (10% improvement = 50 fewer technicians x $75,000 salary = $3,500,000)
    • Utilization (Supervisors in load 40% of time = $500,000)
  • Every moment of time is a moment of potential optimization. Karl Weber, Vice President of Sales at Fleetmatics led attendees through a discussion, which talked about the use of GPS Telematics in optimizing field resources. Comcast, a customer of Fleetmatics, projects to save $15 million as a result of saving 5 minutes per technician, per day. Guests were encouraged to think about what 5 minutes meant to their business.
  • Empower your customers through confidence in your organization and 3rd party network. Lorraine Sikorski, Director of Customer Service Operations at SaskTel discussed the connection with 3rd party service providers (Ledcor, noted above, is a major service delivery partner for SaskTel) enabled by ClickSoftware. Lorraine shared SaskTel’s belief in customer empowerment and left guests with the following quote: “We’re letting the customer tell us when to be there instead of us telling them when we’ll be there.”

Technology to Watch. ClickSoftware announced the latest release of its ServiceOptimization suite, which includes Predictive Travel, which leverages time of day data and its impact on traffic patterns to deliver dynamic schedules, which avoid high traffic areas during peak travel times. But the biggest technology trend (or one could argue fad) discussed was that of Wearable devices (Google Glass, etc.). Accenture led a discussion on the latest mobility trends and Forrester featured an analyst presentation on the susceptibility of the field service market to Wearables. While The Service Council believes that Wearable devices can be valuable to support field service delivery, the cost-benefit case still doesn’t make sense for most field service organizations. We envision that field service firms will lag in their adoption of Wearable devices given the current economic model (we recently authored a blog on Google Glass in Field Service). As it happens, The Service Council is currently conducting market research on the Connected Service Ecosystem, which explores this very topic. We invite you take the survey here.

Cautionary Thoughts. Technology utilization. Maximizing the impact of new technology is a major challenge for service organizations. In a recent survey conducted by The Service Council on the topic of Field Service Process Review (Q1, 2014), 29% percent of respondents cited “solution adoption by the field workforce” as the most significant challenge when considering an investment in technology to improve field service operations. Making a major investment in technology doesn’t guarantee improvement. A full transformation requires a review of people, process, data and many other facets of service delivery and requires the entire service organization to embrace the technology.

I was able to have a conversation with Ankur Mathur, Partner, Accenture Mobility (Accenture was the Platinum Sponsor of this year’s ClickConnect). Ankur shared with me the work Accenture is doing with ClickSoftware with respect to managing service transformations and a belief he has which advocates the involvement of field technicians in the transformation. While some organizations would argue that you don’t want to overburden your field technicians in a service transformation, others might argue that you run the risk of “flavor of the month” given the assortment of technology changes they’ve witnessed over the last decade. Ankur believes when possible, field technicians can be an important component of your team, which could have a decided impact on the success of a field service transformation.

Quote of the event. “I want our field technicians to be the highest paid in the industry. While I want to double their output as part of our cost containment strategy, I’d also like to double their salary”. Jimmy Byrd, President, Technical Services at Ledcor

I welcome your thoughts on some of the trends we observed at the event.


Service Sales: Organizations Struggle to Get Going

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | One Comment

One of the reasons that we continue to see an increasing focus on service and support is in the impact that effective service has on revenue. The link between good service and revenue can be drawn along the following lines:

  • Satisfied customers continue to spend on products and services, and don’t spend elsewhere
  • Satisfied customers are ideal prospects for additional products and services offered
  • Satisfied customers promote the organization’s brand and help bring in new customers via referrals

However, organizations are beginning to unearth newer service-led revenue channels based on greater visibility into the way customers use their existing products and services. And this information is available with the aid of service interactions that occur post-purchase or post-enrolment. Field technicians and support agents are constantly collecting information (whether in a formalized manner or not) about product use, product failures, customer preferences and more. This information can then be used internally by the servicing organization to modify service processes but also to unearth new services that can be offered to customers to help maximize the value delivered (more output, less downtime etc.). This information can also be utilized by service or other front-line agents to recommend existing solutions to customers in the form of replacement equipment, monitoring services, service contracts, and newer service parts. Organizations that we speak to are quite aware of the revenue potential of these service-led revenue streams. In The Service Council’s 2014 service revenue survey of 142 organizations, 56% of respondents indicated that new service sales presented the greatest opportunity for revenue growth, outshining renewals and new product sales. Overall, organizations indicated that approximately 19% of total revenue came from new service sales.

These new service-led revenue opportunities are being targeted in response to a slowdown in traditional revenue streams and overall struggles in attracting new business. As a result, margins on traditional products and services have been trimmed significantly requiring organizations to seek out new streams of profitability.

So why aren’t organizations effectively attacking these opportunities? Well, the primary factor is that they haven’t put in the infrastructure to record opportunities, create new services, offer these services to customers, and track the use of services by customers. By infrastructure, we are referring to people, processes, and technology in place to:

  • Capture service performance
  • Analyze service performance to unearth trends and new revenue-generating offerings
  • Build a business case for new offerings
  • Structure the terms and deliverables of new offerings
  • Price offerings effectively
  • Test the viability of these offerings with customers
  • Build a pipeline for offerings and make prospects aware of their existence and value
  • Sell offerings to customers
  • Manage the post-purchase experience with a focus on tracking the use of the offerings and results delivered to the customer
  • Improving offerings with customer use and feedback data

As seen in the figure below, organizations are still at the early stages of developing their service sales businesses. Before making new offerings available to customers and prospects, most organizations have yet to acquire the necessary data and intelligence to uncover a market for new offerings. For those that have built new offerings, they haven’t had success in dedicating the necessary sales and marketing resources to make these offerings available to customers. These organizations have struggled to get buy in from other business functions, primarily sales and marketing, to support their service revenue endeavors.

Figure: Why Service Revenue Initiatives Stall



Source: TSC Data 2014

Over the course of the next 2 weeks, I will be sharing data and insights on how organizations are tackling the challenges highlighted above in a series of blog posts and insight pieces. These posts will cover:

  1. Lead generation via service
  2. Is service selling?
  3. Service-sales collaboration
  4. Gamification for service sales
  5. Dedicated service functions (IT, Sales, Marketing)

I welcome your thoughts and comments throughout this blog series.

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