A smart approach to service supply chains (part two)

Feb 16, 2014 • FeaturescentrexFellowesservice supply chainParts Pricing and Logistics

In the first part of this feature we looked at why a successful customer interaction strategy should be at the heart of every field service organisation as well as why companies shouldn’t be afraid of failure.

Now in the concluding part we see why you should think of bringing your customer service department and all other business divisions of the service supply chain, under one roof and why putting the customer first always is the key to ongoing customer satisfaction.  


Applying intelligence: the control centre & the service supply chain

Bringing your customer support service under the same roof as the other divisions of your business including field service dispatch, logistics and operations and other elements of the after service supply chain, is essential and needs to become the regular way of working across all industries if companies are to drive brand loyalty forward. This is the belief of Carolyn Wilson, services director of technology support specialist Centrex Services.

Carolyn comments:

“The current approach to after sales is a siloed one, contact centres often pass the customer onto the next silo if they are unable to resolve the problem themselves; washing their hands of the problem at the first opportunity.

“A control centre provides true added value to the customer, utilising a legitimate knowledge-base to not only resolve a high quantity of issues during triage, but controlling each step of the process from opening the call to booking the correct engineer, with the right part or loan product. The result; the SLA failure is eradicated.”

A good example of such a 'controlled service supply chain' approach in action is in the repair centre that Centrex Services provide for Fellowes, a manufacturer and marketer of business machines, shredders and office accessories, with a global presence. The business aim for Fellowes is to enhance the quality, efficiency and productivity of the workplace. Therefore it is key that their own after sales service meets the very highest standards and there service supply chain needs to be efficient and effective.

The Centrex representative responsible for the Fellowes service supply chain oversees calls from clients whose devices are both in and out of warranty. He is responsible from the outset in determining the type of call and then controlling the entire process. From the very beginning of the process he liaises directly with the client, confirming of the level and type of support required, identifying the correct engineer is allocated to the request and ensuring either a new machine (if the client is in warranty) or a loan machine (if the machine is out of warranty) is then available for the next day.

He will then personally telephone the customer to confirm the engineer’s call time and has responsibility for ensuring the engineer is on site at the agreed time. The whole process is only considered complete after a replacement or loan machine has been installed on the customer site and the customer has indicated that the issue has been resolved satisfactorily.

By adopting this type of approach where the customer is at the front of the solution, the entire way that after sales service calls are resolved is completely changed. Fellowes are certainly seeing the benefits of such an approach already, as EU after sales manager, Neil Cosgrove attests:

“Our partnership with Centrex Services ensures our consumers receive a seamless experience from the second a Fellowes shredder is purchased, and offers them total peace of mind through industry leading support service in the unlikely event they should require hassle free in and out of warranty support,” he says.

“On the occasions when it is not possible to source a replacement part the next day, Centrex has implemented a system which enables loan equipment to be made available the next day.”


The customer must truly come first in the service supply chain

By thinking out of the box and offering a loan service that is combined with dedicated control centre representative, Centrex and Fellowes are together treading a new path and it is this new way of thinking and approach to the service supply chain and service delivery that is yielding such positive results. By asking the right questions, the control centre is able to give  clients realistic expectations, while guaranteeing that whatever the problem is, the consumer will not be left stranded without an important piece of hardware overnight which could impact their business continuity.

Carolyn adds:

 “The loan service we offer shows the importance of listening to the needs of our customers. After an issue has been resolved following the deployment of a field engineer, the control centre sends a short questionnaire to gain an insight into how service can be improved.

“We found that supplying loan machinery during those periods where the malfunctioning machine is in need of in-depth maintenance was a highly sought after service. We have improved our after sales service due to the intelligence of the control centre and there is no reason why other businesses can not follow suit.”


Creating ongoing customer satisfaction

By creating a system where the customer’s needs are viewed as the most important factor of after sales support, it is clear that control centres can continue to offer high customer service levels on an on-going basis.

Ensuring triage is effective and efficient allows for the issue to be resolved as swiftly as possible, and by offering short-term hardware loans where required, a supply chain is created in which the customer’s satisfaction is assured and as a result both brand loyalty and reputation continue to be enhanced.