David Troll, SVP, Sales & Customer Operations, Glympse puts forward one potential innovative solution of the perennial field service challenge of getting parts and engineers aligned at the same time...
“You can’t deliver a part to a service van.”
This is something we hear often in the field service industry. The reality is, you can.
A recent Aberdeen Group report found the top reason for a failed service visit is parts unavailability1. This is a critical factor in achieving first-time fix (FTF), which is a top driver of customer satisfaction. Without the right parts at the right time, field service businesses face not only increased costs (truck re-rolls) but also lower NPS/CSAT. Yet many factors affecting parts availability are beyond the control of field operations, making the FTF elusive. Assuming the dispatched technician has the skills and expertise to solve the problem, there are still numerous issues that can arise. The initial diagnosis may have been incorrect, only to be discovered on site; the historical record doesn’t match the actual parts used in previous repairs; or fixing the first problem reveals additional issues, requiring new parts.
Some cutting edge technologies like 3D printing (in the field service van) and drone delivery are being explored as possible solutions. They hold promise in the future, but neither is a realistic option today.
Nor will they ever fully address complex, heavy or sensitive parts.
However, current technologies like location services and the Internet of Moving Things (IoMT), including connected vehicles, provide a readily available solution to enable better spare parts delivery, in pursuit of happier, stickier customer engagements.
With three simple steps, you can turn any field service van into a mobile, on-demand parts depot.
Step 1: Source the Right Part
A technician’s options for sourcing a needed part are limited. He can drive to a nearby warehouse, find a co-worker with a spare, or buy it at a local supply store. All of this is time-consuming and inefficient, which can frustrate the customer and worse, jeopardize SLAs – resulting in penalties.
Without a readily available part, the technician may have to wait around (inefficient) or defer to a follow up appointment (bad service experience). SPL providers have the networks and logistics expertise to handle some of this with just-in-time courier delivery, but they still need to connect with the technician.
By logging all inventory (assets, parts, consumables) and making it discoverable based on its location or affiliation with a vehicle, you can gain visibility into all parts options. By integrating your parts management system with your fleet management or field service system, you can achieve maximum efficiency.
Step 2: Apply Location Services to Vans, Parts and People
Regardless of where you source the spare part - a warehouse, a co-worker’s van or an SPL courier - coordinating streamlined delivery to the job site is crucial.
Leverage a robust location platform to show stakeholders an accurate ETA and location for a spare part handoff. Choose a partner with the flexibility to build sophisticated live map views that enable a real-time holistic vision of people, vehicles and relevant parts in a connected ecosystem.
Finally, determine which scenario(s) you’ll empower your teams to execute:
- A field manager or teammate secures a part from a warehouse and delivers it to the technician
- A technician on the road with the missing equipment drops it off to his nearby teammate
- A colleague or 3rd party courier is dispatched
- The technician locates the part at a warehouse, depot or supply store and travels there himself for a quick pickup
At Glympse, we help customers around the world like Charter (formerly Time Warner Cable), Comcast and others provide the ETA of their field service technicians and deliveries via live map and proactive alerts. We are working with others to provide that same location services platform to inform technicians about exactly when their co-worker or courier will arrive with a spare part and help the delivery person find the technician quickly.
Step 3: Enable the Connected Vehicle for Unattended Delivery
Speed and efficiency are critical for a FTF.
Technicians can’t afford to stop working to wait for a delivery or go into a warehouse/store to pick something up. Instead, make the trunk of your technicians’ vehicles the warehouse or delivery depot.
With location technology and today’s smart-car capabilities, it’s simple. Integrate your connected vehicle with location services to automatically unlock a trunk (using a secure, one-time code and a geofence trigger) once the delivery or pickup person is in proximity of the vehicle.
The part is delivered and ready for the technician when he needs it - right in his own van.
Alternatively, a technician could leverage his connected vehicle to alert a warehouse manager of his ETA and verify his identity for a fast, curbside pickup with zero waiting.
This is just the beginning.
Emerging technologies and location-enabled ecosystems are set to change the way we operate, making field service execution more efficient and effective, driving unmatched customer satisfaction.
For now, we’re well on our way to making sure availability of parts is never a barrier to satisfying customers.