In Praise of Field Service
From ‘necessary evil’ to the pillar of customer experience. From cost to profit source. Field service remains one of the few human-to-human interactions with the clients, an opportunity to share information and ‘scouting’ to spot a business opportunity. Therefore, the question is: could a successful company not invest in a field service management system?
Field service has been considered for a long time, a necessary evil. Something that ought to be put in place in order to support product sales. A cost and an opaque mystery for everyone outside of the service domain. Today these familiar places are dead (well, actually field service is still a world apart for many companies). Today in B2C as well in B2B, field service became an integral part of the value proposition.
It couldn’t be otherwise. Today competitors are a few clicks of a mouse away. Customer loyalty is feeble. In a global market, being price leader is almost impossible; brand images are done (and undone) overnight.
Every company wants to be customer-centric, but who does really meet the client? Any Tom, Dick and Harry in any management classes boasts the value of ‘customer experience.’ But where is customer experience actually built (or ruined)? And the answer is; in the interaction with field service.
Service as a profit center
In the most competitive industries, margins are razor-thin: selling the product stops losses whereas real profit is made in servicing trough spare parts, more extended warrants or 24h or 7/7 servicing. We enter an age of servitization, advanced services and outcome-based service offerings. We are beginning to see service revenue often becoming a significant, if not primary line on an organization’s profit and loss sheet.
In such an environment, it is, of course, essential that every single aspect of field service operations is fully optimized.
Field service is one of the very few human-to-human interactions
Service is no longer a mere functional ‘maintenance and repair’ role. In a world of digitalization field service call often represents one of the very few human-to-human interactions that an organization will have with their clients. More: as the proverb says: “true friends reveal themselves in time of need.” Field service meets the client exactly in this kind of predicament.
This has elevated the importance of the service experience. Today for the service engineer to merely fix the problem is not enough in today’s world. He is considered
- a true brand ambassador for the customer
- the eyes and ears for your sales department
They must be able to offer your customers a detailed overview of the performance of their assets, outline where the gaps in their service coverage may be and be able to order required parts and consumables seamlessly and cohesively.
How could your company stay afloat without a modern field service management (FSM) system?
That is to say, a modern field service management (FSM) system is essential. Please, take a second to answer these four questions:
- Is field service a pillar of customer experience in your industry?
- Is it considered a profit center or material to stand out from the competition?
- Do you want to be as operationally lean as possible so that you can improve your efficiencies and internal field service delivery processes?
- Are your customers expecting and demanding more and more and more?
If you answered ‘yes!’ to most of these questions, let us put another one forward:
To be an ambassador, the field service engineer must be able to offer to customers a detailed overview of the performance of their assets, outline where the gaps in their service coverage may be and be able to order required parts and consumables seamlessly and cohesively.
To be a ‘scout’, the field service engineer who is the first to identify the need for investment in upgrading, replacing or improving, should share with the sales department the information he/she gathers in his day-to-day interactions with customers.
A field service management application that doesn’t share data with the CRM or with the stock management systems that don’t provide the necessary information to the field engineer and from him/her to the sales department spoils fantastic selling opportunities.
These are just examples. Every industry is different, and you certainly work in a very specific context, but with the current pace of competitive change at an all-time high, any delay in pushing forward such a project could put a business at a competitive disadvantage.
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