Real-Time Service: The Silver Bullet To Master Complexity Of Customer Service

Apr 24, 2019 • Featuresmanuel grenacherDigital TwinsSAPSoftware and Apps

Field Service Management is becoming an increasingly complex beast, particularly in the face of increasing customer demands - the solution lies in real-time writes Manuel Grenacher, GM of SAP Field Service Management...

The longer a plant is malfunctioning or down, the more costs companies have to bear. To avoid that, IoT-based solutions such as condition monitoring and predictive maintenance enable organizations to oversee machines in real-time. At the same time, however, these concepts result in increased complexity: In the event of emergency, companies expect that problems with their plants will be remedied immediately.

For service technicians, that means to act fast upon requests: their customers do not only expect high-quality service, but also the speed of service delivery should be up to their expectations. But how to keep up with the increasing demand? Intelligent planning in an ever-growing digitalized world is crucial to companies: it builds the foundation for excellent field service. Thus, on-demand service is no longer sufficient – organizations have to go beyond their conventional methods to handle customer requests.

More than ever, field service software helps to keep up with the pace: technicians are able to receive information that is accurate to the minute and can respond directly. Thanks to modern transformation technologies, upcoming problems can be detected right from the start and inquiries can be processed in real-time. Companies need to be the master of your offered services. Real-time service delivery can be easily implemented, and the result is remarkable: more satisfied customers and an increased turnover.

Requirements For Digital Twins In Service
Sufficient sensors and a systematic evaluation of the data are the essential basis to predict imminent component failures – an approach that is already feasible today. However, technical possibilities are still far from being exhausted right now. Due to ongoing depreciations or for other economic reasons, companies are only gradually investing in plants equipped with modern IoT technology. IoT, however, will become more affordable in the near future. Sensors will therefore spread continuously while at the same time becoming easier to use, more resistant and cheaper.

New concepts for real-time monitoring
Predictive maintenance and condition monitoring are two examples for future-oriented solutions that support service technicians in delivering the right service at the right time. The concepts are able to identify when maintenance work is required by collecting data from the machine itself, previous service calls and connected tools. Under certain circumstances, maintenance can even be conducted by the machine itself without human interaction.

Furthermore, technologies providing predictive maintenance and condition monitoring do not only help to maintain plants, they also steer the technician toward the root cause of the problem: the service specialist knows when a problem will occur and is able to initiate preventive actions – In addition to malfunctions and interruptions of plants being reduced, production capacity increases.

The potential of digital field service and crowd
If you want to offer high-quality field service to your clients, you cannot avoid digitizing your work processes. With the rise of IoT, a wide range of new solutions have emerged, for example digital field service management solutions. By using such software, service providers can record, sort, and prioritize customer data easily. This helps to quickly assign technicians to customer requests and process them. Digital field service management solutions store information on the current order, the customer history and machines, which leads to a high first-time fix rate. But what to do if a plant unexpectedly shuts down and no technician is available?

A nightmare not only for operators, but also for manufacturers and service-providers. To master this challenge, the implementation of a crowd service approach can help to strategically avoid service shortage. Companies can reach out to their partner ecosystem, which may consist of the enterprise group, subsidiaries, partners or freelancers. In that way, technicians can be sent to the client by using on-demand distribution.

As a result, resources can be bundled, services improved, and customer satisfaction increased. Increased service reach through real-time support Real-time service is not only about being quickly on-site – it is also about giving support via email, video, chat and social media as well as via client portals and mobile applications.

At the same time, many customers want to be actively involved: with the help of self-service portals they can check operational data, view tutorials, request remote support from an external support team, or even make an appointment with a service technician.

Offering clients a range of real-time contact opportunities, and, thus, being available 24/7, ensures a sustainable and positive customer experience.

Manuel Grenacher is General Manager of SAP Field Service Management