The service industry is an indispensable part of the medical field. Since the beginning of the pandemic, service professionals have been hard pressed to find new means and methods to cope with the many changes it has brought about. This includes the shift from in-person to remote services, which affects several parts of the business such as customer training as well as systems troubleshooting.
Linda Tucci, the Global Senior Director of the Technical Solutions Center at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics talks about the need to continue to improve how remote services and support technology are enabled today especially in light of the impact of COVID.
In over twenty years, Linda has primarily handled roles in service management, whether it be in field service or a contact center environment. Today, she leads teams that provide technical support to customers, particularly to the medical technicians who operate the diagnostic systems that are manufactured by Ortho. Apart from this, these teams also provide escalation support to field personnel.
Ortho has three key areas of focus: customer excellence, service and digital transformation, and employee engagement. These things have become even more critical considering the pandemic. A robust technology infrastructure becomes non-negotiable given the immediacy of the requirements of their customers.
Medical technologists in the hospital environment have become more willing to troubleshoot over the phone since the onset of the pandemic. They are now more empowered to look for solutions when Ortho’s deployed field engineers are not permitted to be on site. Ortho turned this into an opportunity to strengthen their partnerships with their customers. This began with developing more options for remote service.
For instance, one of the tools that Ortho initially employed was a merged reality tool called Help Lighting. This gave them the ability to download a link to their customers to allow them to get a visual of what their customers are seeing. In this way, it helps them understand how to best assist the customer through the issue.
The importance of all things virtual also increased at a significant rate. Ortho made it a priority to get more virtual training out to customers rather than having them come to their training centers for classes. They also worked on maximizing each on-site visit so that field engineers could ensure they were leaving each instrument in optimal condition every time they left.
While the transition from face-to-face training to virtual training is not without its challenges, Linda shares that at the end of the day, it all goes back to the partnership Ortho has with its customers. While all of this is still new, resilience and agility are essential to adapting to the present situation. One other thing that Ortho is working on improving is customer follow-up. This includes having lab specialists check in with customers to make sure there is clarity in their understanding, and that they have access to all the key information they need to be comfortable in taking care of the instrument themselves.
Assessing The Post-Pandemic Workspace
Linda believes that one of lasting changes that the pandemic has created in service or support is working remote, enabling remote solutions, and managing remotely. For support organizations, a major part of their teams works on-site where they could provide immediate assistance to customers when they needed it. Today, when that is no longer possible, Ortho is looking for ways to have everything at their fingertips not only to support customers, but also to support their own employees.
The difficulties of working from home make it necessary for employers to recognize that not all employees may have home offices, and many of them have other responsibilities such as homeschooling children or doing chores. Linda shares that this is an important consideration at Ortho. Since they can only be present for each other through video calls at most, it is essential for them to think of the well-being of their teams and to ensure that they are taking care of their employees in these challenging circumstances.
For Linda, there are many aspects of the business that have to be reassessed with the impact of the pandemic. For service support executives in particular, the focus on providing a seamless support network for customers through their support teams is one of the most critical factors today. Alignment within the organization is essential to make this happen.
Given the speed with which the pandemic has altered standard business operating procedures, it’s not farfetched to consider that support service may look different in the future. Linda believes that service leaders have to be careful not to lose sight of the big picture, to ensure that the organization doesn’t fracture as a result of sheer change fatigue. Ortho is aiming to be prepared to respond to this.
The service field today tends to still be a very male-dominated industry. Linda shares that in her career, she has been lucky to have been surrounded by men and women who supported women in leadership roles. To bring more women into the industry and to recognize their skills and capabilities in a service environment, it is essential to ensure that there are mechanisms in place that allow women to have a chance to be mentored.
Ortho has the Ortho Women’s Network (OWN) which creates a space for dialogue around women and their development within the organization. In OWN’s regular meetings, both men and women join in, and recently, Ortho’s CEO Chris Smith hosted one of the sessions. It becomes a rich dialogue between participants when there is a conscious effort to foster an environment where an open conversation is possible.
Service leaders need to have these conversations and to actively create opportunities for communication. Mentorship is critical. Linda encourages leaders to give back the same mentorship that was given to them in their earlier years.