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Tieto has appointed Thomas Nordås as Managing Partner, a role which will see the former McKinsey employee push the firm's new digital strategy in the Norweigan market.
The service and software firm's new strategy is built around design of service experiences and the smart-use of data and Nordas will be expected to implement this new direction for the company, ultimately driving growth in the Scandinavian country.
Commenting, Tieto's President and CEO welcomed Nordas to the company, while acknowledging the goal of the firm's new strategy for its customers. "Thomas’ strong experience in consulting and business transformation will further support Tieto’s ambitions and help us create competitive advantage to our customers in this rapidly evolving and digitalizing business environment, where innovation, digital experience and new data-driven business models are the main drivers for companies’ competitiveness," he said.
Just because we tell our people we want them to be Trusted Advisors, does not mean they will succeed. We can give them mobile systems to escalate leads to sales, implement compensation systems and KPI’s to encourage behaviour, and provide training on service offers, but without embedding a Trusted Advisor mindset into our service teams, these efforts will be wasted.
The good news is that many of the traits of Trusted Advisors are already in the DNA of good service people. What they need is clarity on their role and an understanding of how to talk to customers so that they achieve a WIN, WIN, WIN:
• A Win for the customer so that every conversation they have moves them closer to their goal;
• A Win for the company to develop customer loyalty and profitability;
• A Win for themselves so they feel great about their job.
What makes a Trusted Advisor different? At the very minimum they are good customer problem solvers. What starts to differentiate them from others is their ability to have meaningful conversations with customers that always seem to move towards solutions. They are able to provide options together with the benefits for various decision the customer might make. They normally have a high level of personal maturity in that they do not try to tell customers what to THINK. Instead they influence them by what they SAY and DO, and because they consistently deliver, customers trust their advice.
As the notion of a Trusted Advisor is widely used across sales & service, the job context is extremely important. For example, in field service and technical support the Trusted Advisor role is more about providing options than closing deals. Whereas in sales it is more about how we build rapport and credibility within a consultative selling process. Clearly understanding the context in which the Trusted Advisor mindset is being developed is vitally important to successful adoption.
In all cases, importance of having a great conversation cannot be underestimated. Technical people can have a tendency to focus more on the narrow problem than the wider customer relationship. This can lead them to missing important data in the problem-solving process and so failing to find the route cause.
Or just as important, the company misses out on opportunities to add value to the customers business whether that be through helpful advice or the identification of commercial activities. Another challenge many technical people have is that without realising it, they can talk in a way which makes customers defensive or aggressive. For example the next time you are having a conversation, listen for the “…yes, but…”. You may notice that it is a way of saying NO, which probably pulls up really negative feelings for you the listener. The trick is to learn the language that turns these negative situations into positive outcomes.
"Technical people can focus more on the narrow problem than the wider customer relationship..."
Sales people also need good conversations, and in particular understanding the art of closing the deal without losing their rapport with the customer. This is a very different version of Trusted Advisor and it is important not to get the sales version mixed up with technical service.
Service leaders who want to improve how their teams communicate with customers, might consider having the following conversations with their own people:
Clarify what you mean by a Trusted Advisor and the role they play in your organisation. In particular the customer needs and what makes them successful, as well as your companies business goals. This is where distinguishing the difference between selling and advising will be absolutely critical to your success
Develop a Mindset where every conversation we have with customers moves them a step closer to their goal. It may not be the complete solution, but it is a step in the right direction no matter how bad and uncomfortable the situation is. This very basic philosophy is key to training your people to deal with conflict, as well encourage them to have dynamic and collaborative relationships through solution orientated language.
Provide Tools and methods that allow us to actively listen, to talk more effectively, to manage conflict and resolve difficult customer situations. These tools are critical to helping us to prepare ourselves to be a Trusted Advisor in what can be challenging and stressful situations.
Practice in real-life scenarios with your team to see how they react under stress. We are constantly amazed at how confident many service people are about talking to customers in a training environment, yet it all falls apart in a customer situation.
Refresh: Developing how your team interacts with customers is not a one-off event and needs to be constantly mentored and coached.
If you want to develop the Trusted Advisor in your teams, then in addition to processes and propositions, you will need to start to have conversations about their role in the business, the listening skills they must develop and the language to use in order to create dynamic solution orientated relationships.
If you would like to know more about developing Trusted Advisor programmes in your business, then you can contact nick at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the si2 website here.
In my role as Managing Director EMEA with Astea I speak to a lot of field service professionals. As is the nature of our industry, these folks come from companies of all shapes and sizes and from many different industries – which can lead to many varying, often highly nuanced views as to what ‘service excellence’ is.
For some of our customers ‘speed of response times’ may be key, for others it’s ‘first-time-fix rates’, for others still it may be ‘effective time’.
However, looking back on the conversations I’ve had across the last twelve months, there is one constant challenge pervasive amongst field service organisations. Indeed, I’d go as far as saying that across the board, service leaders are facing a new reality that can be summed up in one word - change.
Ours is Not a Sector That Stays Still For Long
The field service industry is not and never has been, one for ever standing still too long. Remember, ours is the industry that was sending data back from the field long before the likes of Apple and Samsung had put the internet in everyone’s pocket and the best-in-class companies in our sector today are often those who innovated their way out of the global financial crisis in 2008 by placing their service offerings at the heart of their solutions.
So it is through a lens of confidence and anticipation that I look now at our industry once more going through widespread change.
We are witnessing significant change in many core areas of field service at the moment, including changes in our workforce structures to include more short-term labor. Even the very role of the field service engineers themselves is rapidly evolving as more emphasis is being placed on quality customer interactions that lead to higher customer satisfaction and hopefully, higher shareof-wallet.
The service engineer has historically been the relationship managers since they have the most one-on-one time with the customer. Now companies are putting formal training in place to ensure technicians have the right customer service skills and the right mind-set for being the brand ambassadors. And field service technology is helping companies make this shift by adding checklists that can guide technician behaviour through things like upselling and cross-selling initiatives.
"I look now at our industry once more going through widespread change..."
As I mentioned at the top, different companies will prioritise different KPIs according to their own internal goals and targets. Yet, one thing that we at Astea are seeing across all service related industries, is the ever-increasing importance of customer satisfaction. This is where field service organisations can find a real competitive advantage.
In a world of digitalisation, Artificial Intelligence and automation, the field service call represents something that is becoming a rare and hugely valuable commodity – genuine face-to-face interaction with customers. In today’s service economy, this is an opportunity that cannot be overlooked.
One KPI To Rule Them All?
Customer Satisfaction is increasingly becoming the KPI for field service organisations, and it is not just for the more abstract concepts within business strategy such as brand perception either – there are very clear, tangible economic reasons why field service companies should realign their KPIs more towards CSAT as opposed to more traditional operational KPIs such as First-time-fix or mean-time-to-repair. For example, for those working in business to consumer verticals, I would point to research published in the Harvard Business Review that revealed that consumers who receive the highest standards of service spend 140% more than those who receive the poorest service, whilst data from
American Express revealed 86% of consumers will pay more for better service. The bottom line is that better service means better revenue opportunities. However, a focus on CSAT KPIs isn’t just for B2C companies, it is just as vital in B2B sectors also. For a start, the lines for service in both segments are continuously blurring as the bar for high quality service continues to be raised in all sectors. But once again, there is also a wealth of data to support the argument for focussing on CSAT for B2B organisations. For example, research by Bain and Company shows that just a 5% increase in customer retention will typically see profit increases of anywhere between 25% and 95%.
Besides guiding technician behaviour, there are other ways that field service management (FSM) platforms can help companies prioritise CSAT, including self-service web portals and mobile apps where customers have more visibility and control over their service relationship. Other ways FSM platforms can help is giving companies the ability to communicate with customers in modern ways that are more often seen in B2C relationships. For example, automated workflows can easily be set up to send text messages or email alerts letting customers know about a change in a service order status.
It’s clear that we are entering an era of new opportunities. Of course, in such times the challenges can be daunting and discussions of how to move forward are often complex. This is why I’m looking forward to hosting a series of round tables at this year’s Field Service Summit in Warwick, where I intend to dig deeper into the changes the field service sector is heading through and how we can embrace them.
John Hunt is Managing Director EMEA at Astea
Field service is undergoing what is in my opinion the biggest change the industry has seen in the last 25 years.
All of our customers, across a range of industries, want to talk to us about Digital Transformation, and how they can use digital technology to fundamentally transform the way they interact with their customers, and not just about the operational ‘nuts and bolts’ of delivering a service to them.
Some customers are only at the beginning, taking small steps towards transformation by, for example, moving away from traditional software ownership models towards cloud-based products and services, such as MS Office 365. Others are further along, with strategies that embrace technologies such as IoT, big data and AI.
But regardless of their progress, at the heart of all of these conversations is the recognition that Digital Transformation will bring them closer to the goal of providing exceptional field service.
The Art Of Field Service Ops
I often think that the role of a Field Service Manager is a complex mix of art and science, with a bit of magic thrown in for good luck.
Decision making needs to adjust constantly to changes in conditions – a sudden unseasonable cold snap, for example, or a contract with a new customer. Just as service delivery metrics point to success, something changes, and there is a whole new dynamic.
Without knowing what combination of factors triggered the change, it’s hard to know how best to respond.
Get the reaction to an emerging threat wrong – too great or too small a response – and the complex balance of the operational ‘ecosystem’ can be thrown out.
Recovering that balance and restoring the conditions required for ‘flawless’ field service can prove costly and time consuming.
Data doesn’t drive decisions
Most organisations capture a range of sources and types of data - workload planning, resource availability, schedule efficiency, service outcomes, customer satisfaction levels, asset profitability – and many are integrating new types, such as that offered by IoT.
However, this data is rarely delivered in the right form to support decision making, meaning that managers spend too much time aligning and manipulating data from disparate sources. Even then, many are frustrated to find that the root cause of issues is still unclear and the likely outcome of any decision is still uncertain.
AI, machine learning and predictive analytics
This is where the latest technologies, such as AI, machine learning and predictive analytics come in.
Valuable insights into the performance of an operation often lie at the intersections of these various datasets; these technologies can enable decision support applications to identify underlying patterns of performance in the Field Service operation, including long and short term trends, that were simply too complex for traditional applications to uncover. This is increasingly true as much larger data sets such as IoT have come online in recent years.
"Field service is undergoing what is in my opinion the biggest change the industry has seen in the last 25 years..."
This deep understanding of performance, combined with the power to highlight exceptions in real-time, enables the operations team to see the correct course of action to address each challenge as it arises. And beyond simple advice, these technologies make it possible for applications to automate ‘learned’ responses to common patterns of exceptions that occur.
The next generation of decision support
This next generation of applications will be used strategically to analyse, for example, which factors within a field service operation make engineers productive, and which inhibit productivity. Some of these factors will be within the control of the engineer, in which case performance can be addressed with initiatives such as better training or incentives.
Others will relate to company processes, in which case the applications will suggest tactical improvements, the impact of which can also be measured. Others still will be external factors which can’t be changed, but can be allowed for in planning and scheduling.
Such applications will be programmed with a knowledge base, but will be learning all the time, as the outcome of each decision is fed back into the performance data, effectively automating the process of continuous incremental improvement. This will take some of the challenge of blending art and science out of the hands of the Field Service Manager, leaving them free to concentrate on other activities.
Not just software suppliers
It is clear that this massive change in the industry requires those of us who supply and partner with field service companies to change too. We can’t just be technology suppliers.
We have to embrace our customers’ goals and work with them to add value; to weave their transformation strategies into the fabric of our products and services and to bring to the table our own blend of art, science and, yes, a little magic too.
Laurent Othacéhé is CEO at Cognito iQ.
Research by Speakap, has revealed frontline workers - those not desk-based - engage more positively with their employees internal social intranet if it carries instant messaging and commenting functionality. The report also claims workers productivity is improved if such applications are used.
The ability to communicate directly with colleagues rather than on an open forum, the report says, encourages more open, confident and clear direction between teams and managers.
“If messages are too vague or are not filtered to target and reach the most relevant users, it can lead to clutter, confusion, less productivity and even poor results/performance," Patrick Van Der Mijl, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Speakap said. "By understanding their employees’ communications behaviours, organizations can effectively build and adjust their employee engagement and experience programs to better serve the needs of their workforce.”
You can download the report here.
I write this article in the second week of January. An odd time when faded Christmas trees lay abandoned in gardens, and flashes of tinsel peek through wheelie-bins. Festive memories seem a long time ago and the summer seems even further away as we return to work. We snooze the 6am alarm, reluctant to step into the cold morning.
Symbolising this grim time of year is the broken boiler. Plummeting temperatures mean faults are common and energy companies come under pressure to respond and to deliver first-time fixes. Customers, particularly on a cold January morning, want radiators hot and their showers hotter.
In Britain, central heating was introduced in the 70s. Then it was seen as something of a luxury. Today it is seen as a basic requirement, we miss it sorely when it’s not around so when the boiler flame goes out, we demand a quick response from our supplier. An expectation affirmed by the Uber and Amazon delivery service-times we operate in.
So has the utility sector adapted to the modern customer demand and if not,what does it need to do to keep up? Are they instead content to just keep their regulators at bay? And what about technology adoption? Do firms still feel uncomfortable dipping their toes in big-data lakes?
Historically, utilities have felt ring-fenced from competition. The majority of companies have a monopoly over the areas they supply. Investing in complicated and costly digital strategies has never been high on the agenda. Stephen J Callahan IBM’s VP of Global Strategy and Solutions for Energy and Utilities explained why outfits remain sceptical in an article for RDMag in 2015: “The analytics opportunity for utilities is clear,” he wrote, “but there continues to be a lack of real push and value delivery. Companies have been concerned about the high costs and complexity of data. “Technology shifts, regulatory changes and the emergence of empowered consumers all demand a new approach to customer engagement. With analytics, energy companies can make the shift to engage with customers in highly personalised ways that can increase customer satisfaction, lower the cost of service and promote new products and services,” he urged.
For UK energy companies, customers switching tariffs and regulation from the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM) are the main drivers influencing its customer strategy. Transparent costs and price comparison sites have
made swapping easier for consumers and in 2016, 4.8 million frustrated households did just that. Their main reason? Poor customer service.
That said, despite the numbers, and a strong PR campaign around the ease of which it can be done, the rate of switching is perhaps not where OFGEM want it to be. “I think switching is happening but probably at a lower level than the regulators would be aiming for,” explains Laurence Cramp from Leadent, a managing consulting and technology business specialising in field service. “Mainly because people are using the supplier in their area and they’ll stay with that supplier.
“It also comes from the fact that tariffs are all in and around the same range so consumers tend to be paying about the same price for their energy. The customer service may be better or worse at some or others but that’s not necessarily linked with what billing platform they’ve just integrated. I think people probably look at the power sector and think it’s much of a muchness.”
In the UK, British Gas, SSE, EDF Energy, npower, E.ON UK and Scottish Power form the “Big Six”, the suppliers who provide the majority of energy to the UK. Smaller and more streamlined energy companies, with a strong focus on service exist, yet consumers seem content to stick with the top names.
Of those, British Gas is the UK’s largest energy supplier and can lay claim as the world’s first public utility company. Set-up in 1812 as The Gas Light and Coke Company, the firm provided customers with coal-based energy. The sector, and technology, has moved on considerably – not least with the advent of electricity – and British Gas has done its best to keep-up, adopting technology to enhance its customer service processes. It recently rolled-out its ‘On My Way’, real-time engineer tracking facility, enabling customers to see the precise location of the engineer, producing an accurate arrival time for time-starved customers.
"In 2016, 4.8 households switched energy supplier. Their main reason? Poor customer service..."
Tim Andrew is the CEO of Localz, the company behind British Gas’ location tracking technology. He says 2019 will see utility watchdogs push companies hard when it comes to customer service. “Regulators continue to increase their focus on customer experience, using both penalties and incentives to drive same-year measurable improvements,” he predicts.
“This year will show that the companies who outperform the industry, continuously focusing on providing transparency and control to consumers, rather than running a project to meet the minimum regulatory requirements.”
Consumers are hamstrung to the area they reside: Southern Water, Thames Water, Yorkshire Water for example, with customers unable to switch tariffs. With consumers locked-in to contracts, how are suppliers kept on their toes to ensure they deliver on customer service?
Here, the Water Services Regulation Authority (OFWAT) keeps economic tabs on companies. Set-up in 1989 following the privatisation of England’s 10 water authorities, it carries out a review every five years with this year (2019) being the next period of scrutiny.
This cycle will see companies adopting a Customer Measure of Experience (C-MeX) incentive approach, intended to focus firms on delivering a high-standard of customer service. C-MeX supersedes Service Incentive Mechanism (SIM), a customer satisfaction survey carried out four times a year by the regulator, and will link financial incentives to the performance level of the best performing companies.
Cramp believes the new approach will spur-on companies, through the use of technology, to be more comprehensive in their customer focus. “C-MeX is there to encourage firms to be more holistic and rounded in what they do for their customers,” he says. “This is a good time for water firms because they’re now all gearing up for the next five years and undoubtedly customer service is a really big part of that with a lot of focus on investment in technology to help
However, he suggests the water companies are some way behind their energy counterparts who, driven by their own regulator OFGEM, have already integrated such initiatives “I see the water companies playing catch-up with where the power utilities were five years ago. I think the energy regulator has been on that case a little bit ahead of the water companies than OFWAT,” he says.
The utilities sector is a broad market, however like field service, which straddles numerous verticals, there exists an opportunity to share best practice across its own verticals: water, electricity and gas. Is it possible for the energy sector to extend its five years of technology-focused customer learning to its water counterparts?
“In our daily lives we take a great experience from one industry, and get frustrated when that isn’t available in another,” says Localz’ Tim Andrew, who is adamant it can. “As a business, trying to meet, let alone exceed customer expectations by
taking input from just an internal or single industry perspective is futile. Cross-industry collaboration and product development is critical.”
As well as working together, the sector needs to invest sensibly in technology, particularly around customer service. There are murmurings that this is starting to happen, particularly in the water industry but how long this will take is even less clear. Studies suggest that worldwide firms are setting aside funds to do just that. In 2015, GTM research anticipated utility company spend on data analytics growing from the $700 million spent in 2012 to $3.8 billion by 2020, a huge leap but it need not be a leap into the unknown and at all times, the customer should be at the heart of any decision.
“Becoming a customer-centric, information driven organisation is no longer simply an option for most utility companies. It’s a business imperative,” Callahan said in his 2015 rallying call to the utilities sector. Four years’ on, will his words have had an impact?
Watch this space.
There’s no escaping the fact that field service can be a lonely industry. Ask the engineer battling torrential rain to repair a wind turbine. Or the manager greeted with blank stares at dinner parties when asked to explain his job. With mobile engineering teams working in often remote locations, and a high number of lone workers, it can feel like there are limited opportunities for collaboration within field service.
But with Brexit around the corner, now is the time when field service operators must work together – not just to avoid problems, but also to get ahead. While the UK political climate remains highly uncertain, ByBox has shared practical tips with customers to help prepare for the ‘worst case scenario’ - No Deal.
A ‘Hard Brexit’ could mean that businesses which currently move parts freely within the EU, including the UK, will find themselves becoming importers and exporters between the UK and the EU.
An obvious statement perhaps, but several of the companies we have been working with will find it a shock to implement not only the existing rules, but also additional new procedures to manage No Deal.
And herein lies the real rub - under new customs rules, if one company fails to comply, it could cause delays to the stock of all businesses within the same consignment. The smartest businesses recognise that ‘one issue affects all’ within Field Service; and that by and large they do not compete supply chain against supply chain.
"Advanced businesses view Brexit as an opportunity to take stock and think about how they can add value..."
By preparing for new import and export rules now they’re protecting not only their own businesses, but the resilience of the whole field service sector. Advanced businesses also view Brexit as an opportunity to take stock and think about how they can add value after Brexit and get ahead in a new trading environment.
The most common themes are:
Use of technology
An increasing number of firms are looking to digitise processes around distribution, engineer productivity and inventory. With ever-more stringent SLAs and cost pressures, there just isn’t room for inefficiencies or delays in responding to disruptions
Increased forward stocking
In some industries where the potential consequences of delays are not acceptable, EG medical technology, we’ve seen an increase in firms using micro Forward Stock Locations (FSLs) – placing critical items in App-Lockers at the service sites where they’re needed, to protect first-time fix rates
Third party specialists
Many companies are turning to third parties to manage complexities around cross border transport and distribution. For example, our strategic partners such as Bespoke Distribution Aviation (BDA) – already have established transport channels, a customs clearance approach and brokers.
Two years on, it’s easy to experience ‘Brexit fatigue’ – but the burden can be significantly reduced if field service companies realise they’re not alone, and help each other through it.
Simon Fahie is Managing Director at ByBox.
In a recent blog titled You Need a New Digital Transformation Playbook, published by IDC, author Meredith Whalen reveals that based on a recent study of digital leaders, 46 percent are what IDC refers to as “digitally determined” while 54% are what IDC calls “digitally distraught.”
It doesn’t surprise me that such a large percentage of organisations fall into the “distraught” category – true digital transformation is a massive undertaking that can prove daunting and frustrating at times. In an effort to alleviate some of the headaches that can come along with such a major initiative, I’m going to share four common missteps I see organisations make related to digital transformation:
#1: Overlooking the Cultural Implications of Digital Transformation
If you think of digital transformation as strictly a technology initiative, you are starting off on the wrong foot. Digital transformation requires just as much cultural change as it does technology use, yet this piece of the puzzle is commonly overlooked for a variety of reasons – leaders assume employees will just “get it,” carving out time for cultural change management seems to slow down progress, or companies just aren’t sure how to tackle such a cultural shift.
I assure you, making an effort to get the cultural part of digital transformation right will pay dividends. I’ve heard countless tales of efforts gone wrong because the employee wasn’t bought in on the concept or properly trained on the tool introduced.
Key areas to focus on are to communicate clearly and regularly with all employees on the need and objectives for your transformation – implement a feedback loop with your employees and listen to what they have to say. Be selective about the technology you adopt as part of your effort – if the tool doesn’t meet the needs of your workforce or
is difficult to use, adoption will suffer. Investing in tools that do what they say they will and deliver an experience your employees actually value will build their trust in your digital transformation efforts. Finally, continually monitor adoption and “take the temperature” of your employees to course correct your efforts as needed.
"Making an effort to get the cultural part of digital transformation right will pay dividends..."
#2: Failing to Set a Solid Digital Transformation Foundation
It’s all too easy to become enamored by some of the ultra-cool facets of digital transformation and gloss over some of the basics. But for true digital transformation to be successful, you have to walk before you run.
You have to ensure you’ve laid a solid foundation of basics from which to build your digital repertoire. While not as sexy as AR and AI, effective and efficient communication, bulletproof scheduling and routing, and solid work order management are examples of more basic technology that simply has to be mastered before being built upon.
As you evaluate your foundation, think about the past — what do you have in place already that is working well; the present — what you want to accomplish in the near term; and the future — what you want your digital portfolio to look like five years from now. This will help you visualise the evolution of how you build on what you have to get where you want to be, or will help you to identify changes you need to make to your current systems before building upon them.
#3: Defining YOUR Desired Digital Transformation State
To achieve digital transformation success, you MUST realise that your desired end state will be unique. I’ve seen organisations get off track because they see what ABC Company is doing and make every effort to replicate their success, rather than tailoring the approach to their own business. It’s fine to look around you for inspiration but staying in your own lane is critical to your success.
Start by defining your business goals, by visualising what YOUR desired digital transformation state looks like (and of course agreeing upon this vision organisation-wide). Each businesses’ end goal is going to be individualised, as well the approach for getting there – no two companies can follow the exact same path.
Once you have your goals set and vision articulated, focus then on only the technologies that will get you there – don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked by the new, shiny thing that will ultimately bring no value to your business but looks really cool. Stay focused and measure your progress to that desired state.
#4: Racing to Reach The “End Goal” of Digital Transformation
I’m here to break it to you: you’ll never reach the end of your digital transformation efforts. The “end goal” is a myth; it doesn’t exist. The reality of digital transformation in the technology age is that it will keep going, and going, and going.
This means you have to work to perfect the art of ongoing cultural adaptation, business goal setting, and technology adoption – because you’ll be adding on to and tweaking your digital transformation efforts from now until the end of time.
Don’t let this overwhelm you – the foundation you are setting will equip your entire organisation to make future adjustments and additions far more seamlessly.
While there is no true state of completion, the race is on to make progress and remain competitive.
Sarah Nicastro is Director of Service Management Business Development at IFS.
If you’re a field service organisation you now need to move beyond merely “kicking the tyres” and start making your final FSM solution selection writes Bill Pollock.
If you’re a field service organisation you now need to move beyond merely “kicking the tyres” and start making your final FSM solution selection writes Bill Pollock.
You have already spent a considerable amount of time (and resources) evaluating Field Service Management (FSM) vendors and solutions, and now you find yourself at the point where you will soon need to execute on your decision as to which FSM solution will be the best “fit” for the organisation.
You have examined each solution with respect to its capabilities; breadth and robustness of functionality; technology acquisition cost (i.e., both in the absolute, as well as in terms of the Total Cost of Ownership, or TCO); potential disruption during implementation; forecasted timelines for implementation; adaptability and scalability; and ease and application of use.
You have also organised and sat through several C-level meetings, team meetings and internal advisory panels; you’ve fought, time and time again, to obtain management buy-in; and you’ve debated whether to go Cloud- or Premise-based, perpetual license vs. a subscription pricing model, CRM-based vs. ERP-based, and – oh, yeah – where exactly does the Internet of Things (IoT) come into play with respect to supporting the selected FSM solution?
The market is painfully aware of the challenges that are associated with the selection and implementation of an effective FSM solution. In fact, many organizations have previously been burned by acquiring a solution that was over-sold, but under-delivered.
The advent of Cloud-based FSM solutions has also enabled several less-than-complete FSM offerings to overstate their respective functionalities, making it even more important to be able to identify the differences between a qualified start-up – and a less-than-qualified “upstart” – solution provider.
There is much to be cautious about in today’s FSM solution market – and not all products are able to live up to their hype. When asked to state their top three future challenges with respect to acquiring and integrating new FSM technologies into their existing field service management operations, UK/Europe respondents to Strategies For Growth℠’s 2018 FSM Tracking Survey cited the following as the most “disruptive”:
• 48% Return on Investment (ROI) on the acquisition of new technology;
• 36% Integrating new technologies into existing FSM solution platforms;
• 34% Identifying all of the required functionality for our organization;
• 28% Cost of new technology (both absolute, and Total Cost of Ownership, or TCO);
• 28% Obtaining management buy-in for new technology acquisition;
• 24% Identifying the most appropriate devices to support field technicians.
Do these challenges sound similar to the ones that you are facing with respect to bringing new technology to the organisation? If so, then the following opportunities, or benefits, associated with implementing a state-of-the-art FSM solution will likely represent the most compelling “talking” points to support your ability for recommending to management the solution that best fits your organization’s needs (i.e., again, as cited by UK/Europe respondents from SFGSM’s 2018 FSM Benchmark Survey Update):
• 63% Improve customer satisfaction;
• 44% Ability to run a more efficient field service operation by eliminating silos, etc.;
• 33% Improve field technician utilization and productivity;
• 28% Establish a competitive advantage• 28% Reduce Total Cost of Operations (TCO);
• 25% Ability to provide customers with an end-to-end engagement relationship.
Other opportunities and benefits “bubbling” just under the 25% mark include completely automate our field service operations (18%), foster enhanced inter-departmental collaboration (12%), and reduce ongoing/recurring costs of operations (11%).
Again, if any of these factors represent areas where your organization would like to see improvement, then only by choosing the right FSM solution will you be able to make it happen!Services businesses – like yours – are established primarily to make money for their investors (i.e., the bottom line); however, the only way to successfully stay in business is to deliver what the customer wants, when they want it, and how they want it! And this will still all depend on the organization’s ability to deliver the expected quality of service, which in turn, will depend on whether or not it is using the most effective and powerful tools to do so. That is why choosing the most effective – and powerful – FSM solution is so important.There are many success stories out there in the marketplace – but there are even more failures (i.e., or horror stories)!
Still, the UK/Europe field services segment reflects modestly high levels for the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), or metrics, that measure and gauge its overall well-being. For example, the following represent the principal mean average KPI ratings from the UK/Europe portion of the 2018 SFGSM survey:
• 78% Customer Satisfaction(*** Some improvement definitely required here ***);
• 82% Service Level Agreement (SLA) Compliance;
• 63% Percent of Total Service Revenue under Contract / SLA;
• 36% Service Profitability (as a Percent of Service Revenues).
However, not every Field Services Organisation (FSO) is able to attain even these modestly good – but not great – performance levels. In fact, the survey results clearly reflect an underlying inability for a significant percent of the UK/Europe services community to attain even less than these modest levels of performance:
• 26% Not attaining at least 80% Customer Satisfaction;
• 30% Not attaining at least 80% Service Level Agreement (SLA) Compliance;
• 39% Not achieving at least 50% of Total Service Revenue under Contract / SLA;
• 44% Not achieving at least 30% Service Profitability.
If your organisation falls into any of these categories, then it is clearly time to do something about it; that is, to acquire the FSM solution that has the functionality to take you to the next level. The best way to identify, evaluate – and, ultimately, select the right FSM solution for your organisation will require getting down to the basics, essentially by narrowing down your “long list” to a targeted “short list” of the chosen few for final consideration; then, reading the literature, viewing the demos, checking out the research analyst reviews and recommendations (there are many!), sharing information with industry peer groups, and so on.
There will only be one best choice for your organisation – and only through a concerted effort of due diligence can you be assured that you have made the right decision!
The SFGSM’s 2019 FSM is taking place throughout February, with the top-line results being presented in Field Service News later on this year. You can take part in the survey here.