In Part One of this interview in our Industry Leaders series, John Cooper, Head of IT and Workflow Solutions in Sony’s Professional Solutions unit in Europe explained why he and his colleagues needed to revisit their existing service...
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In Part One of this interview in our Industry Leaders series, John Cooper, Head of IT and Workflow Solutions in Sony’s Professional Solutions unit in Europe explained why he and his colleagues needed to revisit their existing service infrastructure and replace a 15-year-old legacy system with something better suited to the growing complexity of their service organisation.
In Part 2, he talks to FSN's Kris Oldand about how he and his team reviewed both off-the-shelf systems and customised solutions to determine which was fit-for-purpose, their reasons for making the choice they did and the impact on the service operation.
“We had a remedy based solution that actually had its routes dating back almost 15 years believe it or not,” Cooper begins. “It was initially designed for specific service offerings we had which were very much one-to-one. One customer , one product. So a kind of classic repair-related issue. They’d call the help desk, raise a remedy ticket, we’d determine if a repair was required, we’d pull the units back and we’d issue replacements; a nice simple system.”
“Of course now we are in a situation where we have technology that sits across multiple partners of Sony, plus hardware and software vendors, and we look after it all. It may be multi-site, it may even have multiple SLAs within contracts.” Cooper explains.
We realised the bits that really mattered to our customers were the bits that we were finding it hardest to do.
As the need for a more modern service management system became apparent Cooper and his colleagues had some clear expectations of what they wanted. “We thought about this issue of the ecosystem and how do we get everybody involved. Pretty quickly we came to the decision that what we needed to do was get something that sat within the Salesforce world; our sales and marketing organisation use Salesforce - it’s a standard platform in Sony,” he explains
Bespoke or fit-for-purpose?
I was very wary about bespoking because it gets you a solution for today and, if you're clever, maybe for the next two or three years
“So we looked around and we found ServiceMax amongst a number of systems that we had already looked at. I just thought: this is a system that has really been thought through by service professionals, people who really understand what happens. It’s not just a standard set of processes.”
“Despite it being an off the shelf package there is such as degree of configurability that you can work how you want to work. There is such a good degree of best practice built in it pushes you down a path of best practice and I’m a big fan of that.”
Of course there are numerous benefits to a next generation service management system such as ServiceMax, including easy Salesforce integration, breaking down many of the data silos that can exist within an organisation.
And perhaps the most important of these is the ease of access to reporting which Sony had found lacking in their previous solution. This is of course indicative of how business is done today and a common expectation of Sony’s customers, so it was a key necessity for Sony when implementing their new system.
However, given the changing nature of Sony’s business with both a shift towards a more service-orientated business structure and also, through the use of remote diagnostics tools, a move towards a much more proactive and preventative service offering, such reporting tools also provide an important second function - namely, being able to report on all of the service value Sony are delivering that may otherwise potentially not get noticed or acknowledged.
If you’re not careful the only time people hear about service is when there is bad news
“The flip side of course is that no service organisation is perfect and sometimes when things go wrong the first person that hears about it is someone senior on the customer’s side and then the second person that hears about it is the account manager. So if you’re not careful the only time people hear about service is when there is bad news and the reality is that 99% of the stuff is going wonderfully but there is not any awareness of this.”
In fact Cooper believes such easy access to reports and dashboards, is as powerful tool for his account managers as it is for his service managers. “One of the other drivers for us in this quest for the right sort of system was something that keeps the whole ecosystem aware of what’s going on and what we are doing for the end customer.”
“We have this dream of the account managers turning up at customer sites and being completely clued in with all the stuff that’s happened in a nice simple to understand graphical way. So they don’t need to get into technical complexity but they know what we’ve done for the customers, they know of any live issues and they’re not going to get ambushed with you’ve got this problem or that problem.”
And Cooper sees this as perhaps one of the biggest changes in service today. “That sort of thinking wasn’t there many years ago in our industry but now it’s becoming imperative, ” he asserts. “Our feeling is that that service will really help us differentiate ourselves with our customers. Our goal at the end of the day is we want customers to come back to us and keep renewing service contracts and then when their technology gets to the point where there is something better for them out there they come back and buy from Sony.”
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Apr 19, 2015 • Features • Abbott Diagnostics • Advanced Field Service • keytree • Leader • Magazine (digital editions) • resources • Digital Issue • ebooks • field service europe • ServiceMax. Planet Zheroes • TOughbook
People at the heart of latest issue of Field Service News writes Editor Kris Oldland in his March/April Leader...
Whilst it is of course quite natural for those of us working in field service us to focus on technology, it is revolutionising the way we work seemingly more and more every year, every now and then we need to take stock and assess the most valuable element in field service - the people.
Because that’s what it’s all about ultimately surely?
We talk about empowering our field service engineers, we talk up the importance of our engineers as the frontline of customer service - increasingly the only human touch-point our customers may have with our brand.
For all the good that remote connectivity, the Internet of Things and machine to machine diagnostics brings to field service, for all the efficiency savings, all the increased productivity, we will still need that human interaction - if we want to engender any form of customer loyalty, we really need it if we want to capture and retain those ever more slippery recurring revenues that field service managers are under ever increasing pressure to secure.
And as I looked across this issue of Field Service News almost everywhere I looked I could see a strong ‘people’ angle to almost all of our stories and features.
In the News section for example there is what to my mind is one of the best stories to have hit our desk here at Field Service News Towers since we launched. That is the story of how field service software provider Keytree are working with food charity Planet Zheroes help fight Food Poverty in the UK. Not only is it a great example of how their system can be put to use, but it’s also a story of triumph on a human level. Through the use of field service technology Keytree and Planet Zheroes are able to stop wastage from some of the country’s leading food organisations and make sure that there are less hungry mouths out there on the British Streets.
My heartfelt thanks and respect goes out to both companies for helping so many who need it.
Also in the News section is our new comic strip Field Service Funnies and whilst I’m dishing out thank Thank You’s I should also tip my hat to the good folks at ServiceMax for sharing the cartoons with us.
They were actually the result of a competition towards the end of last year where genuine field engineer stories were converted into cartoons. Once again all about the people , but I have a feeling that as in this first example the cartoons may be quite focussed on the sometimes quite astounding stupidity that occurs amongst the general public (trust me I’m probably one of the worst offenders) but I’m really looking forward to seeing more in this series.
[quote float="left"]In the News section for example there is what to my mind is one of the best stories to have hit our desk here at Field Service News Towers since we launched.And as the theme of people continues we have coverage of the first two big events of the year so far. Firstly there was the Enterprise Mobile Technology Conference hosted by Panasonic. You can read our write up on page 32 and the event was a really fantastic start to the event calendar but what truly impressed me the most was that despite being a very, very big company, the Panasonic team were both accessible and genuinely interested in their clients thoughts and needs. Special mention should go to John Harris, General Manager Engineering for a fantastic session that could have veered dangerously close to being a sales pitch in the wrong hands but instead was an extremely valuable, and highly open discussion.
The other event I refer to is of course Field Service Medical Europe which was held in sunny Dublin just a few weeks ago. As you would expect from the team that host Field Service Europe the three day event was highly enjoyable and packed with excellent content. However, perhaps because of the more niche focus of this event compared to it’s older cousin, there were a few less in attendance but that simply resulted in each session moving more towards an open forum as the barriers of inhibitions were removed due to the more intimate nature of the group.
Finally we’re really pleased to bring you the results of our latest research project which we have run in partnership with Advanced Field Service.
This time around the focus of our research has been on the types of mobility tools being used by Field Service Engineers in 2015.
The research project itself is perhaps one of the broadest topics we tackled as we look at the types of device (i.e. laptop/tablet/smartphone etc), the grade of device (rugged vs. consumer) the operating systems, what we as field service professionals expect from apps, how often we think we should refresh our FSM solutions vs. how often we actually do it, we even explore who is involved in selecting the solutions and look at whether it is a good idea to involve our field service engineers in the selection process.
For me though the most interesting statistics are around our engineer’s satisfaction with their devices. In brief digital is definitely here... So say the people