When Digital Transformation And Customer Expectation Collide: The Field Service Predicament

Jan 31, 2018 • Featurescustomer expectationFuture of FIeld ServiceMark BrewerDigital TransformationIFSServitization

Mark Brewer, Global Industry Director for Service Management, IFS explores how service organisations can leverage digital transformation to improve customer service and exceed expectations...

Servitization. Uberization. Driverless cars. Drones. Digital transformation appears to be both a blessing and curse to the field service industry. The downside to digital revolution? Customer expectation rises as new technology makes a consumer’s life easier. But fundamentally, a service organisation strives to deliver the right products and services at the right time. The upside? Digital transformation can enable this endeavour.

CIO defines digital transformation as “the application of digital capabilities to processes, products, and assets to improve efficiency, enhance customer value, manage risk, and uncover new monetisation opportunities.” New technologies help field service organisations achieve their goals by enabling them to acquire and process the right data, deliver services and products more accurately and efficiently and provide an unrivalled customer experience.

According to a research study by The Raconteur, even in digitally rich 2017, 28% of field service operations (FSOs) are failing to attain at least 80% service level agreement (SLA) compliance, with 66% of these organisations also citing concern or serious concern over their current cost model. The challenge becomes this: how do organisations leverage digital transformation to exceed customer expectation and achieve long-term sustainability?

Customer-Driven Digital Transformation

The customer is the focal point of any field service operation. Traditional statistics state that by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (Walker) and by 2018, more than 50% of organisations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations (Gartner). Making the customer the centre of your organisation’s digital transformation ensures that all changes will directly support your central goal of putting the customer first.

Technology can transform the customer experience in a multitude of ways including:

More accurate demand forecasting

Predicted demand, provided by the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data technology, allows an organisation to collect real-time data and utilise advanced forecasting algorithms to predict the optimal window for predictive maintenance or service visits, rather than relying on historical information or regression modelling.

Faster service times

IoT technology that is seamlessly integrated with intelligent field service management (FSM) software dispatches field service engineers automatically and predictively when an asset requires service, improving the customer experience and saving costs on time spent on wasted visits.

Seamless workflows

Real-time operational intelligence gives managers insight into all aspects of their service operations while end-to-end FSM automates the entire service supply chain. This eliminates paper processes and reduces the time from initiation to invoice, transforming service delivery from reactive to proactive. These technologies allow organisations to reduce operating costs and focus more on the overall customer experience.

At The Collision Point

So, your customer is one of the future; digitally savvy and increasingly demanding because of it. Digital transformation exasperates and solves this challenge at the same time. How can you use this to your advantage? Focus on growth and innovation.

According to new research, 47% of FSOs reported that growth opportunities in new markets were a driving factor for digital transformation, while 33% of organisations cited evolving customer needs and preferences as a top driving factor (Raconteur).

Facilitate Growth

Your organisation needs to grow internally and externally. Digital transformation can facilitate this by allowing you to offer new service models, appeal to new customer bases and enter new markets. But in order for this to be effective, you need to ensure that you have the right organisational and governance model to facilitate growth and embrace change. Internal buy-in and change management are imperative to leveraging digital transformation to ensure growth.

Leverage Innovation

Innovation gives your organisation an incredible competitive edge by providing services or products that are entirely different from the competition. Digital transformation doesn’t just fix current problems with logistics, customer service, delivery and more, it also presents alternative ways of doing business to better serve the customer.

Service organisations surveyed in Raconteur’s research were overwhelmingly convinced in the importance of investing in big data, analytics and IoT. These technologies are already working to help leverage innovations in service delivery, closing the loop between the customer and operations.

Now What?

Embracing digital technology requires a deep understanding of your organisational needs and your customers’ expectations.

Clear direction, internal buy-in and change management processes will help ensure your technological investments reap the most ROI and provide the best improvements for your organisation. Moreover, working with third-party vendors that understand your business and imperatives is key to success.

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