December 2014 - The Service Council

Field Service Priorities for 2015

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | One Comment

As we round the corner into the new year, its time for predictions about what the new year will bring. Luckily for me, I have a community of service leaders who offer insights into their plans for 2015. As per 180 of these leaders participating in our recent field service research survey, here are the top five focus areas for the new year.

Figure: Strategic Focus Areas for 20152015priorities

Source: The Service Council Data 2014

All of these highlight a focus on internal improvement for the field service ranks. Lets dig a little deeper.

  • Process Control and Review – Earlier this year, we published research that documented how 65% of organizations were consistently reviewing field service processes. However, most reviews were done with a focus on productivity enhancement and cost control. We see more and more process reviews being done with an eye on revenue improvement and customer satisfaction enhancement. More so, we see organizations looking at their key processes at vital nodes of the field service delivery system (appointment booking, dispatch, field visit, follow up) as well as the impact of process flows on other areas of the field service organization (e.g. how call and appointment management impacts field service delivery) . Therefore organizations are looking for a more linked field service organization.
  • Talent – Surprisingly 66% of organizations mentioned that they are able to meet their workload needs with their current resource levels. That said, 55% indicate that the volume of field service work has risen, and there is the looming retirement crisis in the coming years. The biggest areas of focus in the space of talent management will be tied to training and knowledge management. Over the longer term, we see an increased focus in hiring as organizations look to support a changing profile of field service agents.
  • Field Service Execution – Our definition of field service execution is tied to the delivery of work once its in the hands of the field agent. In improving a day in the life for these agents, organizations are looking to:
    1. Remove administrative paperwork and move to mobile applications
    2. Building a formalized plan to capture and share service knowledge
    3. Provide increased customer history information in the field
    4. Develop/acquire new training tools and learning platforms
  • IT Infrastructure for Field Service – While the buzz around IT in field service is around wearables, we anticipate that most organizations will focus on the tools necessary to enhance field service execution (bullet 3). Therefore there will be a focus on linking field service functions via automation, mobilizing field workers with information, and providing enhanced means to train field service agents. We also anticipate a greater push towards better business intelligence and into predictive analytics in order for organizations to reduce the reactive component of their field service businesses. Within the wearable sphere, we do see a strong interest in video to support field service resolutions organizations leading to organizations evaluating the tools (wearables or otherwise) that would allow for the seamless flow of video between the field and the service back office.
  • Call Management, Dispatch, and Scheduling – In confirmation of bullet 1, organizations are much more aware of the impact of poor call management and dispatch on field service performance. Typical call effectiveness metrics (time on call, ease of appointment setting, appointment window etc.) are incomplete if the subsequent field service visit is invalid due to the wrong technician being scheduled or for the absence of the right part. Everything is connected and organizations are realizing this more and more. In fact, in improving their perfect field service visit rate, organizations cite the following as two of the top four strategies:
    1. More intelligent schedule and dispatch
    2. Increased triage at call and appointment management

What does your priority list look like? Let us know.

What Customers Dislike About Field Service Visits

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | 2 Comments

Our field service research survey is yielding some incredible results and I look forward to sharing them with the community via our blogs, research insights, and more.

One of the interesting findings was around customer complaints tied to field service work (see chart below)

Figure: Customer Dissatisfaction with Field ServiceCustomer Complaints FS2

Source: TSC Data, December 2014

The top answer isn’t surprising and ties into the fact that customers want issues resolved quickly and effectively. Most organizations would like this to happen too. What is surprising is that it isn’t the overwhelming top choice. In past years, we’ve seen poor first-time fix be the top reason for complaints by a wide margin.

So does this mean that customers don’t care about first-time fix as much, or does it mean that service organizations are getting better at first-time fix, or does it mean that the other areas highlighted on the chart are becoming more important. Lets dig into it a little bit more, but I can say for sure that customers’ desire for first-time fix hasn’t gone down.

Average first-time fixes have stayed constant over the previous 12 months of our research. Last year, our research showed first-time fix rates in the mid 70s, and that holds true for this year’s audience. What has changed is the number of service issues resolved without dispatch, either via remote resolutions or through self-service channels. Therefore, customers are seeing better overall resolution rates without onsite technicians. When technicians are dispatched, first-time fix rates have stayed relatively constant.

Other factors that impact the field service experience are becoming much more important in the minds of customers. Once again, they want service issues resolved effectively (see our post on effectiveness vs. experience) but they also want to have more control over the experience of the visit. Therefore things like time to receive an appointment, field agent visibility, length of time of appointment window (22% of respondents), self-service options regarding field service appointments (17% of respondents), are beginning to irk customers.

Also interesting is the note on the cost of service. This is the first data that we’ve seen tied to customer concerns regarding the cost of service, especially non-contract covered break/fix service. Essentially, as customers perceive visible service performance to have stayed relatively flat, they don’t see why they have to pay more for a standard field service visit. Or if their service providers are investing in efficiencies and less visible service procedures, then why aren’t those cost savings being extended to customers?

We’re going to pose that question (cost of service) to our community to learn a little more about the pricing of service offerings and its impact on customer behavior. It will also be a topic of discussion at our Smarter Services Symposium (March 10-12 in San Diego).

If you have any thoughts on the topic around field service performance, the field service experience, or the pricing discussion, please do send those in. If interested in participating in our field service survey before it closes, please do so (LINK) in the coming week before it closes.

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