Earlier this year Field Service News reported that Germany's leading pay TV company Sky Deutschland had been able to double their field service engineer productivity after implementing Fast Lean Smart's (FLS) FLS VISITOUR scheduling and FLS Mobile solutions.
Now in this exclusive interview with Lydia Otto, Director Field Service and Supply Chain, Sky Deutschland we look at this success story further including what attracted her to working with FLS in the first place and how the project has played out...
Ms Otto, Sky is incredibly popular and, without doubt, the synonym for pay TV. How do you explain its huge popularity?
LO: Sky offers its customers first class entertainment whenever and wherever they want it. This includes award-winning series very soon after US transmission and only on Sky, access to the latest blockbuster films, high-quality kids channels and exclusive sports coverage, for instance all games in the Bundesliga and Champions League.
The multiple functions of the Sky+ hard drive receiver and the mobile service Sky Go allow our subscribers to become their own TV directors – both at home and when out. Moreover, as a leading innovation integrator we are always good for a surprise; tweaking and inventing products, online services and formats. Needless to say, our customer service also plays a key role.
In 2011, you decided to introduce a central scheduling system for your service engineers and, within this context, to implement the scheduling software FLS VISITOUR and the mobile solution FLS MOBILE. What were the actual reasons for this decision?
LO: While redefining the field service strategy in 2011 it became clear that we would have to expect an increase of orders in the short term. We wished to receive the “right” orders. In other words, to only be called out when the in-home service actually creates a real added value, prevents further calls to the customer service centre or stops customers from possibly terminating their contracts.
The key objectives were to standardise route planning, enhance productivity, increase back office efficiency, cut the time to process orders and reduce the amount of time engineers spend on the road.
What were the criteria used to select FLS VISITOUR, i.e. FLS as your software-partner of choice?
LO: Besides our demands for increased field service efficiency, the licence model appealed to us, since it ensures the scalability of our intentions for the coming years. Moreover, the tool was fully compatible with our corporate hardware, which meant no hardware had to be purchased and the software was implemented with very little effort on our part.
From your point of view, which demands had to be met by the appointment and route scheduling software? Have these demands changed over the past three years? If yes, how has FLS VISITOUR and FLS MOBILE helped you?
LO: The demands that had to be met were: Simultaneous use by various end users, optional interface to the customer management system, presentation of various order types (problem solving vs. installation), consideration of different working time models, output of a route plan with graphical representation and connection to mobile end devices.
[quote float="right"]The demands placed on scheduling software have not changed fundamentally, but they have become more detailed, e.g. adherence to the prioritisation of orders in the graphical representation or the mapping of service partners with available timeAs a company, Sky continues to grow and this brings new challenges in terms of efficiency and productivity for our field service and customer service department. As such, the demands placed on scheduling software have not changed fundamentally, but they have become more detailed, e.g. adherence to the prioritisation of orders in the graphical representation or the mapping of service partners with available time. Transferring orders to service partners at the click of a mouse is also desired. The next two or three years will present us with a whole host of other interesting topics, e.g. real-time or GPS planning or interconnecting further partner networks.
How has Sky profited specifically by using FLS VISITOUR and FLS MOBILE? And which corporate figures illustrate this benefit most effectively?
LO: Since the beginning of 2011 all the relevant key figures for Sky’s field service have improved. We have seen a 72% increase in productivity, while reducing the processing time and journey times by 42% and 41% respectively. By the way, since introducing FLS, we have been able to process three times as many orders with the same number of back office staff.
According to a number of independent surveys, Sky delivers the best service. This is definitely something you can be proud of, while at the same time acting as an incentive to maintain this high level and to drive up customer satisfaction even further. What are the cornerstones of this excellent service and which goals need to be achieved in order for you to improve your service?
[quote float="left"]We must offer an exceptional service that goes beyond simple installation where subscribers receive real added valueLO:Sky has been continuously investing in customer service staff, technologies and processes for many years. Our aim, particularly in the area of in-home service, is not just to install receivers and to solve technical problems, but to seize the moment and turn it into a ‘wow’ effect. We must offer an exceptional service that goes beyond simple installation where subscribers receive real added value and discover everything they wish to know about the world of Sky from the comfort of their own living rooms. We carry out regular quality calls to seek direct feedback from customers. Satisfaction > 92% (Top 1&2) with the technical customer service shows we are on the right track to ensuring Sky customers have the best possible experience.
Meeting the individual needs of your customers and their service demands is a particular challenge you face in the battle to attract further subscribers and to reinforce your position in the market. How does Sky go about satisfying these needs and wants?
LO: Five years of Sky mean five years of continuous growth and 3.813 million subscribers by the end of the second quarter of 2014. As we see it, there is no such thing as ‘one big reason’ why someone should choose Sky. There are most probably hundreds of small considerations to take into account. But at the end of the day it boils down to three things: Provide your customers with the best and most exclusive programme and let them decide when and where they wish to view it. Invest in innovation and surprise the viewers and, of course, offer exceptional customer service.
How did your scheduling and in-home service staff react to the implementation of FLS VISITOUR and FLS MOBILE? How much convincing and change management did it take? Has introduction of the software led to greater staff satisfaction?
LO: In the long run, the introduction of the software delivers significant improvements for our field service division both office based dispatchers and field service engineers. [quote float="right"]as with all changes, a certain amount of convincing and change management was neededHowever, as with all changes, a certain amount of convincing and change management was needed. Whereas previously it was in the hands of the field service engineers to schedule their own daily appointments, this is now the responsibility of the dispatchers. Initial obstacles were quickly overcome and all the other challenges, such as mobile device training or preparing the basic scheduling parameters, were dealt with relatively easily.
Adopting new corporate software usually involves an implementation project, which is often met with a fair amount of scepticism by companies and staff alike. How did you experience working with FLS as the project partner during the implementation phase? What are your expectations with regard to the level of support provided by a software developer after implementation?
LO: FLS is a partner that not only underpins the way we operate our business on a daily basis, but also with whom we can discuss individual development steps and continuously adapt the system to our needs. Furthermore, we perceive FLS as a project partner who, whenever necessary, provides us with support that actually goes beyond the contractual terms of service. We are extremely happy with the direct personal advice and support, as there is always a dedicated point of contact available.