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May 30, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

The Digital Transformation Kiss of Death

May 30, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

The Digital Transformation Kiss of Death

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

With everyone racing full-steam ahead in their digital transformation efforts, there are countless questions that arise and require consideration: Are our processes streamlined? Are our current systems capable and being fully utilized? What new technologies do we need to invest in, and how do we make it all work together? How do we use these tools to maximize customer experience and create new revenue streams?

With the sheer volume of considerations that companies are weighing, there’s a very simple aspect of digital transformation success that often gets overlooked – employee adoption. Without employee adoption, your digital transformation efforts will fail – period. Resistance from the front lines is the kiss of death for digital transformation. I don’t think any company disagrees with this notion, but I do think plenty drop the ball in this area for one reason or another. To avoid the digital transformation kiss of death, you must slow down just a bit and carefully weigh how to engage and motivate your workforce so that digital transformation is something they are excited about instead of something they will fight tooth and nail. Here are a few points to consider:

  • Examine your past failures. Many organizations have spearheaded initiatives and made technology investments that have gone awry. It happens. But as you move forward with your digital transformation efforts, it is worth examining these past failures for two reasons. First, you need to ensure you don’t replicate your mistakes. Taking the time to look at what went wrong will help you create a solid strategy for success this time around. Second, those failures have a direct impact on your employees’ willingness to get on board with the next initiative. Being able to articulate that you’ve seen the err of your ways and describe what will be done differently this time around will be a good first step in breaking down the walls that exist blocking employee adoption.
  • Avoid confusion at all cost. As digital transformation efforts are commonly broader than the service function alone, it is imperative to create cohesiveness in both your strategy itself and the communication of that strategy to your employees. As soon as your workforce begins to think that there isn’t a clear strategy, or you don’t know what you’re doing, the seeds of doubt creep in and skepticism takes over. Get alignment on what the goals of digital transformation are for the company, and how you envision achieving those goals, before you begin to articulate the vision to your employees. Then, however, it is critical to begin open communication – early and often – so that your employees feel part of the process and have an opportunity to provide insights and feedback. The framework for where you’re going needs to be clear; the employees need to be a part of developing the blueprint for getting there.
  • Focus on creating a positive digital reputation. I love this term, and I am borrowing it from Greg Lush, founder of Last Mile Worker Solutions, who first covered this concept on a blog on Future of Field Service. Greg’s point is that to achieve employee adoption, you must consider and care deeply about your digital reputation. This means that the tools you select are purposeful, practical, and provide a positive user experience. If you are investing in technology just do invest in technology or selecting tools that don’t truly meet the needs of your frontline workers, you’ll never achieve employee adoption because adoption is dependent on the tool truly enabling your workforce and making their lives easier. If you focus on creating a positive digital reputation, you will in turn focus on selecting and investing in tools that are valuable and effective and as you go along, and your employees experience the value of those tools, they will become more open to and excited for the next steps of your digital transformation journey.

May 29, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

3 Tips for Recruiting Women Into Field Service

May 29, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

3 Tips for Recruiting Women Into Field Service

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May 28, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

The Call for Contextual Computing

May 28, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

The Call for Contextual Computing

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By Greg Lush

Would you describe yourself as a digital survivor? You know, the world has forced you to utilize digital tools such as email and file storage in the cloud. Often you wonder about how things could be better; however, you cannot seem to put your finger on the best approach. Instead, day after day you wrestle with a seemingly bottomless email inbox and a daunting business portal where you are expected to logically store digital collateral.

Long gone are those days when IT set up my computer and pointed me to a shared server drive. Between my brilliantly organized email folders, and the tree of folders on the shared drive, I was good…. Or was I? While I could locate items quickly, most of the time, requests from co-workers continued to rise as the information age seemed to bottleneck on each of us, those “in the know” comfortable on our individual data islands. Is it possible that the hope of personal and corporate “modern computing” have simply choked us in digital exhaust? Information traveling towards us at the speed of light without any context leaving us frustrated and defeated. We must think differently about how we leverage information in the future, if we have any chance of jumping off the hamster wheel. Think about a typical day for a moment, the routines that you go through from when you wake up in the morning to when you finish your day. It is likely that many parts of your digital life are already thinking in a contextual manner. For many of you a strong association between context and applications will exist. What is the traffic like; check the traffic application. How is the weather; pull up the weather. Now, let’s consider an email which may have just arrived in your inbox. This email is from Joe Smith with Smart Computing inquiring about how the job is going at 123 Main Street. Immediately you respond to Joe with whatever information you have rattling around between your ears. Now, you have the best intentions in mind; however, since you have not embraced contextual computing, your perspective is extremely limited. Come to find out that the rest of your team are proficient practitioners of contextual computing and have a collaborative group showing all pertinent information about Joe and the Smart Computing organization. One of the service providers at Joe’s site has inadvertently flooded two floors of the building. Joe’s question “how is the job going?” was asking about the flood; your assumption was the context of his question was about the new equipment installation. If your objective is to prove how disconnected you are with your customers and their concerns, then you NAILED it! ­Unfortunately, this scenario happens all the time. You may not see it directly, yet the ramifications will eventually be felt as the customers trust wains and your hopes of bring order to this entropy seem to get further away. All it takes is an approach which helps you see that organizing your content in context can be as straightforward as one foot in front of the other. As we dive into this next series of blogs, we’ll explore mechanisms which you may employ today to help you master the next phase of your digital evolution; contextual computing. You are in the cat-birds seat with a strong reputation your community will happily travel with you on this next step of the hierarchy of digital adoption.

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May 23, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

Makino’s Critical Shift from Reactive to Predictive Service

May 23, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

Makino’s Critical Shift from Reactive to Predictive Service

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

Makino is a globally recognized company that produces metal-cutting and EDM machines. Like many product manufacturers, Makino is looking for new ways to differentiate itself through service. As such, the company is incorporating IoT, AI, and ML into its operations to enable the shift from reactive to predictive service. “This is a critical shift for Makino. It allows us to make support a competitive weapon,” says Mark Rentschler, VP of Customer Support at Makino.

Makino, a long-time IFS FSM customer, adopted the IFS IoT Business Connector as a part of its predictive service strategy. The IFS IoT Business Connector, a set of components that connect Microsoft Azure IoT Suite, or other discovery environments, to receive and operationalize device data and deliver observations to IFS business software. Along with proprietary AI and ML, Makino is able to monitor conditions of its machines and predict failures before they occur. In certain instances, when customers permit connectivity, the IoT Business Connector can feed data from the equipment directly into IFS FSM so that a call can be placed, or a ticket created automatically. The solution works to determine product patterns and notify of issues prior to a failure occurring. Alerts can also be set to inform when preventative maintenance isn’t done properly or as scheduled. These insights help Makino not only to operate more efficiently, but to provide optimal equipment uptime for its customers.

Creating New Service Revenue Streams

With large equipment like what Makino manufactures, downtime is incredibly costly and disruptive to customers’ operations. Further, in today’s service landscape customers simply expect minimal to no downtime and for the equipment they’ve purchased to just work, period. Of course, service providers know this is no easy feat and work to keep pace with increasing customer demands. For Makino, the IoT-enabled OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) service offering not only enables the company to better meet its customer demands, but it also provides a new revenue stream for the company. This more sophisticated level of service that combines predictive analytics as well as equipment usage and operating data gives customers both insight and reliability that they are willing to pay a premium for, which is structured in the form of an annual subscription fee. “This solution provides more than just information and status updates, it really offers the ability to avoid failures that result in significant costs and disruption,” says Rentschler. “This value proposition is exactly what our customers want.” Makino began development of this offering about a year and a half ago, and first introduced OEE to its customer base in September of 2018 with commercial availability February 2019. The company has seen immense interest from its customers with beta testing of the offering going very well. Makino anticipates this move to predictive service to create a long-term revenue stream that will augment its product and traditional service revenues.

Managing Major Change

Rentschler, who has been with Makino for more than 24 years, acknowledges that the move to predictive service is both a structural and fundamental shift. This transformation goes beyond the introduction of sophisticated new technology and reaches into the company’s culture, operations, and even business model. “You have the introduction of technology itself, which requires our already electrically and mechanically skilled engineers to also become capable of networking,” says Rentschler. “With this being a new offering for our customers, you also have to consider the soft skills that are necessary to articulate the value and deliver on predictive service. These changes require continued communication and employee development – you can’t achieve full success without true collaboration.” For a company that has traditionally provided products with break/fix service, the introduction of a subscription-based predictive service model is also a notable change. “For a company that sells capital equipment, the world of subscriptions with agreements, renewals, and the like is a significant adjustment,” says Rentschler. While not without its challenges, Makino’s willingness to embrace the world of Servitization is commendable – too many organizations are hesitating because its simply easier to do what they’ve always done. For those, though, Rentschler has some wise words. “Go fast, because you’re already late,” he says. “This is the future of our industry, so you either embrace it or you’ll be left behind.”

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May 22, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Tetra Pak's 5 Critical Considerations for Outcomes-Based Service Success

May 22, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Tetra Pak's 5 Critical Considerations for Outcomes-Based Service Success

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Sasha Ilyukhin, VP Industry 4.0 Solutions and Customer Success at Tetra Pak, shares with Sarah and listeners the lessons Tetra Pak has learned on its journey to an outcomes-based service model. Servitization is the future, and this episode gives wise words for those working to embrace a new way of operating.

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May 20, 2019 | 5 Mins Read

Overcoming the Barriers to Creating Servitization Revenue Streams

May 20, 2019 | 5 Mins Read

Overcoming the Barriers to Creating Servitization Revenue Streams

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

With the journey to Servitization well underway for most service organizations, there seems to be one major challenge standing in the way of reaping its rewards: creating new revenue streams. At this year’s Field Service Palm Springs event, this challenge was of the most talked-about topics among attendees. Numerous times throughout the four days I heard a service leader ask, “How are you making money doing that?” Rarely was an answer offered.

Why is it that companies are struggling with creating revenue through Servitization? I think there are a few different reasons, but before we dig into those, let’s first discuss the progress that has been made in the industry. A year ago, at this same event, Servitization was being discussed (mostly be vendors) as a forward-thinking notion. In that one year, so much has changed. Servitization is now being embraced as a concept by nearly all service organizations and in practice by many. Companies have come to understand that the path into the future of service is far different than the road that has gotten us to where we are.

Progress on the Path to Servitization

I believe there’s a common understanding among service organizations that truly the only means to achieve success from this point forward is to authentically achieve and maintain a customer focus. Organizations realize that customer intimacy and a deep, rich understanding of what customers both need and want is critical not only to be able to deliver competitive service in today’s landscape but to be able to ultimately develop those next revenue streams. Organizations also accept the fact that Servitization cannot be achieved without operational excellence, and this means both streamlining and optimizing processes as well as investing in state-of-the-art technologies that are essential to meeting today’s pressures. Finally, companies are grappling with the idea that what has historically been a very slow-moving, often laggard industry needs to quickly transform itself to a more agile, innovative one. This means an evolution of strategic initiatives, business models and offerings, functions and roles, and for most an overhaul of the technology used to manage it all.

The Potential for Monetizing Servitization

While the evolution to Servitization isn’t exactly simple, it is inevitable. If that isn’t reason enough to embrace it, the potential it brings to grow revenue should be. For most companies, there are two primary opportunities to create additional or new revenue through Servitization:

  • Delivering outcomes. As companies move away from reactive, break-fix service and move toward predictive service capabilities, the value proposition for customers is immensely amplified. You are no longer providing a service but delivering an outcome. Getting to the point of avoiding the need for a customer to call you requesting a repair is a level of value that most customers would happily pay more for. It’s up to you to take advantage of the experience economy by repositioning your service offering as an outcome – a guarantee that your customer can remove that source of worry and work from their plates and just know that things will be taken care of.
  • Offering insights. Data has become the most valuable asset there is today. Service organizations with connected assets often default to thinking about how that data can help their service operation be more effective and efficient – from the standpoint of enabling that predictive service. However, there’s a whole new world of revenue opportunity when you begin thinking about how the data you are collecting (or can collect) can benefit your customers. Equipment usage data that helps you detect fault patterns and avoid failures can also provide valuable perspective for your customers on usage, consumption, peak times, and so on. Organizations that begin thinking outside of the box of what service they can provide and begin thinking about what insights they can provide expand the potential for revenue opportunities.

So, What’s Holding Companies Back?

This all may sound simple so far, but as I said at the beginning, the reality is that most companies are struggling to realize revenue gains from Servitization. If I think about why this is, a few barriers come to mind:

  • The concept of Servitization is a seismic shift for companies. We must recognize that the evolution underway in service is truly transformative and it takes time for companies to determine how to adapt. I think the first major barrier is that some organizations are having difficulty developing and articulating their vision around Servitization. In many cases, this stems from not having a great grasp on what those customer needs and desires are, and organizations must start here. This lack of vision can also be attributed to leadership that is more comfortable maintaining the status quo, which is a stance that needs to be fiercely challenged if a company wants to remain relevant.
  • Servitization success requires strong foundational technology that many organizations lack. You simply cannot deliver on the value of Servitization without having strong foundational technology in place. Many companies are struggling to modernize as quickly as they need to in order to progress with the pace of customer expectations. This goes back to agility being a new concept for most service organizations, and it’s important to work on being more nimble both in selecting as well as deploying the tools you need to deliver outcomes.
  • Change management remains tough to tackle. Change management is a topic that has been covered time and time again and in countless ways, yet it remains top of mind for service leaders. From the top down, this level of business transformation requires a lot of work on not only developing but articulating that vision and then re-creating a company culture that is more aligned to the new and future way of operating. Change management, while conceptually straightforward, remains incredibly challenging for companies to tackle effectively.

Companies lack confidence in their Servitization value proposition.

At the end of the day, service and sales are now closely intertwined – and as a function that historically hasn’t had a major sales aspect to it, this is a struggle. I think that some companies have an offering that they could indeed monetize and simply aren’t doing so because they don’t know how to articulate their value proposition to customers. Ultimately, to achieve success in creating Servitization revenue, organizations must get comfortable and become confident not only in creating but also pitching offerings that they know their customers find value in (because they’ve asked).

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May 16, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

TDC’s Mission to Minimize Vulnerability, Maximize Competitive Advantage

May 16, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

TDC’s Mission to Minimize Vulnerability, Maximize Competitive Advantage

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

For 130 years, the TDC Group has been delivering innovative communications solutions that link Danes more closely together. Brands in TDC Group include YouSee, Telmore, Fullrate, Blockbuster, Dansk Kabel TV, CubeIO, Get and TDC Erhverv. TDC Group is working toward a vision it refers to as ‘Digital Denmark,’ in which the company is committed countrywide connectivity and digitally educating citizens with the ambition to become the leading infrastructure operator and the best service provider.

To accomplish these objectives, TDC recognizes the need to invest in digital transformation – both in technologies themselves as well as new digital skill sets that will lead the company forward. In the company’s 2018 Annual Report, CEO and President Allison Kirkby says, “TDC Group is committed to investing in building the infrastructure and assets that will provide us with sustainable, long-term competitive advantages.” As with many other industries and across many parts of the world, one of the major challenges for TDC is qualified talent to lead this charge. The company knows that its digital transformation requires the recruitment of more employees with digital competencies, yet there is a threatening lack of these profiles in the Danish labor market. In an effort to alleviate this problem, TDC co-founded Digital Dogme. The company is working to upskill its employees with the digital competences needed for the future as well as attracting new talent.

A Focus On Field Service

Modernizing its field operations has been an important aspect of TDC’s digital transformation efforts. The company employs a field force of 1,000 technicians with 45 highly skilled and incredibly knowledgeable dispatchers that schedule more than 1 million tasks per year. “For an operation of our size and complexity, relying on a team of highly specialized dispatchers puts us in a very vulnerable position,” says Mads Frølich, Product Owner at TDC. “This fact, along with our need to be more efficient and to be able to accommodate mounting customer pressures, led us to the deployment of IFS Field Service Management.” During its solution evaluation process, TDC focused of course on value but also on finding a company that it felt was equipped to meet its demands. IFS appealed to TDC based on the FSM solution functionality, but also based on the company’s stability and reputation for being customer-centric. “We set our expectations high,” says Markussen. “We needed a partner that would embrace that.” With its solution selected, TDC began configuration and integration which included a thorough process review and update. Deployment of FSM began in early 2018 and is ongoing. “It’s been quite a journey,” says Mads Frølich, Data Analyst at TDC. “Learning and training takes time, and managing change is at least as big of a project as the technology itself.”

The Change Management Imperative

TDC started its change management efforts early, working prior to the project’s start on gathering experiences from technicians and dispatch to ensure the solution selected would meet their needs. “We knew that the mobile solution needed to map to our technicians’ work versus forcing them to adjust to a new workflow,” says Frølich, “and dispatch was instrumental in defining how we’d configure IFS FSM and PSO.” As deployment began, TDC established a “war room” at each location where they’d hold daily meetings surrounding go-live. “The war room gave us an opportunity to thoroughly evaluate our progress, and to collect feedback in real time. It was key in us being able to appropriately gauge the happiness of our technicians as well as our customers’ reactions,” says Frølich. TDC enlisted the support of its frontline workforce to assist with change management and solution adoption. “We worked to identify super users, based on skills and willingness, who were trained ahead and then worked to train their peers,” adds Frølich. “This process, along with relying on regions that have successfully deployed to tell the tale of the value themselves as ambassadors, really helps in fostering acceptance and adoption. The message coming from peers really resonates with the workers more so than just classroom, directive training.” Markussen and Frølich urge others to keep in mind that change management is an inevitable, natural part of the process. “Change management is a process itself, and you can’t control it,” says Markussen. “The average age of our technicians is 50+ - and we’re asking them to adjust from complete control over planning their own day to an automated drip of tasks. This is a major adjustment and its natural to experience some resistance, but I will say once they are over the hump they do grow to like it.”

Preparing For The Future

TDC’s investment in IFS FSM is building a strong foundation for its field operations that will set the stage for the future. Already the company is better able to accommodate non-standard or into the schedule, and the company anticipates that it will ultimately see a reduction in travel time and better SLA compliance as well. TDC is working to mitigating risk by putting a solution in place that will reduce the need for manual intervention from the dispatchers, so that the company can better utilize the skilled dispatchers and reduce vulnerability of tribal knowledge. By focusing on the digital transformation of its field operations as part of the company’s broader objectives, TDC is setting the stage for further automation that will help the company better serve its customers and achieve competitive advantage as it strives toward Digital Denmark.

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May 15, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

KONE America's CEO Larry Wash Shares Innovation Insights

May 15, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

KONE America's CEO Larry Wash Shares Innovation Insights

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Larry Wash, CEO of KONE Americas, provides an engaging look into what it takes to truly build a culture of innovation. KONE has been recognized by Forbes as one of the top 50 innovative companies in the world, and it’s clear why.

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May 13, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

5 Steps for Understanding How Customers Develop Their Perceptions About Your Brand

May 13, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

5 Steps for Understanding How Customers Develop Their Perceptions About Your Brand

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By Hamdy Michael Ayas

Delivering superior experiences to customers has many benefits for optimizing returns on investments and it can be a significant value adding factor. For example, it can lead to achieving a competitive advantage from the branding level. In addition, through the experiences of customers, a powerful positioning can be established for being perceived as the best of class in service.

This requires a strong understanding of how the customers want to experience their journeys of interactions with the organisation as well as acting effectively upon this understanding. Understanding the way that customers develop their perception about a brand leads to ways of managing their perceptions and delivering superior experiences. But how is it possible to structure the way that customers develop their perception about your brand?

  1. Defining interaction touch points with customers: Every touch point of interaction between a brand and a customer contributes to forming the total experience that a customer will have. A Touch Point, as an interaction instance of a customer with the brand, can take place in many ways, from simple/obvious instances to well-hidden effects.
  2. Creating superior experiences: Transforming your offerings from unidimensional products/services into comprehensive experiences enables the delivery of significant added value. For example, a sportscar, can have two engines with the same output. A smooth continuous sound from the engine can give the perception of stability and power but on the other hand, a rough and intermitted sound might give the experience of an old machine and set lower performance expectations. In terms of perceived value however, the rough sound can be associated with vintage machinery. In combination with other experiences of similar associations during the interactions journey of the customer this can result to a superior driving experience.
  3. Giving some ownership of the interactions to customers: Every touch-point of interaction consists of a two-way communication and the input of the customer is crucial to be heart. For example, two questions that a field engineer can ask prior a visit, have an equal meaning but lead to very unequal results in terms of customer satisfaction. Getting the opinion of the customer and deciding together the date of a visit by using “When would you like us to be at your site?” develops a superior experience than just informing the customer that “We can be with you earliest on Friday”.
  4. Traveling the customer journey: Usually, a customer is going through several interactions with a company/brand during an experience and there is an entire journey of interactions that determines the customer’s perception. For example, a customer navigates on the website to find information, comes in contact to submit a request, receives a service, uses a piece of equipment and so on.
  5. Anticipate what customers expect in every interaction: In a Customer Corridor, during the end-to-end set of interactions that the customer has with the organisation, a set of expectations setting takes place. Most importantly, the way that the organisation interacts creates a set of responses on these set expectations and the customer’s perception of the organization’s brand is determined by meeting or failing to meet these expectations.

Therefore, offerings by themselves can create value but they are not enough to create customer delight. Customer delight is created by successfully playing the game of setting the right expectations for the right price and then exceeding these expectations. And setting the right expectations in a precise and systematic manner needs the development of value-driven operational qualities.

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May 9, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Field Service Used to Be Easy: How Spencer Technologies Uses Data To Adapt

May 9, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Field Service Used to Be Easy: How Spencer Technologies Uses Data To Adapt

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

Founded in 1972, Spencer Technologies has grown to become a global company with more than 500 employees and 200 technicians throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe. The company provides project management and technology services to support retail stores and multi-site organizations.

I had the honor of interviewing Rudy Goedhart, Business Intelligence Director at Spencer Technologies recently at the IFS 2019 InFocus Group customer training and education event. Spencer has been an IFS Field Service Management™ (IFS FSM™) customer for more than seven years and Goedhart’s role is focused on leveraging the data the solution provides to make the company more efficient and to keep its customers happy. Everyone in the room chuckled when Goedhart exclaimed, “Field service used to be easy!” What he went on to explain is that historically, customers were really happy to hire Spencer in to do a job, have the work completed, and receive a bill. Period. Over the past couple of years, those expectations have evolved dramatically. “In today’s always-on world, customers demand insight. We realized about 18 months ago that we weren’t giving them enough information – they wanted more from us, and we needed to better use our technology to deliver,” says Goedhart. “Customers want to know, at a glance, how we’re performing against our SLA, how long the technicians have been on-site, the reason for any delays or re-visits. They want to check in continuously to get that status update and know everything is happening as planned.”

The Foundation for Critical Visibility

IFS Field Service Management™ (IFS FSM™) intelligently manages Spencer’s overall service lifecycle, helping the company to optimize all processes and touch points and deliver seamless service while placing its focus on customer satisfaction. With IFS FSM, Spencer can connect project, work management and task execution in the field as well as centralize the management of resources, projects, and associated requirements while reliably capturing field data remotely. Spencer has the ability to specify service deliverables including response times, coverage schedules, bill schedules, PMs and escalation rules. With IFS FSM as its system of record, and through using the customer portal functionality, Spencer is able to provide its customers with the continual flow of information they’ve come to expect.

3 Critical Data Applications

Goedhart categorizes Spencer’s use of data gleaned from FSM into three equally important categories: internal, customer-facing, and to minimize vulnerability. Internally, Spencer communicates progress on key KPIs continually at all levels of the organization. “We use the lobbies functionality of FSM to deliver the appropriate data to each function: leadership sees a certain set of data, technicians see another, and shipping and logistics functions see yet another,” says Goedhart. “Each view is customizable, but the point is that at every level of the organization, insights from the system as it relates directly to key KPIs are being communicated on an ongoing basis. This ensures we are all aligned as a team on what’s most critical at any given point as well as how we’re performing as individual functions and as a company overall. This level of visibility has helped us to avoid numerous escalations, which saves us time and money and keeps our customers happier.” The customer-facing data is what is newer for Spencer, born out of those increasing demands for information. Through reporting and the customer portal, depending on customer preference, Spencer is able to use insights from FSM to keep its customers in the know on what is most important to them. “All our customers have real-time visibility into our FSM system of record with real-time reporting,” says Goedhart. “Being able to deliver the level of insight our customers want using FSM has become a competitive differentiator for Spencer.” Finally, Goedhart notes that data has come in handy in terms of the company being able to protect itself and minimize vulnerability. In the instances a customer issues arises, one that perhaps historically would’ve resulted in a loss of billable hours, Spencer now has the evidence of service delivered to fall back on as needed.

Words of Wisdom

Goedhart shared some valuable insights with the crowd based on what he’s learned in the last 18 months as Spencer has taken on this mission to better serve its customers with data. First, he urges you to consider the value of the data you’re sharing – whether internally or externally. “If you’re sharing data, whether with employees or customers, it absolutely has to be both meaningful and actionable,” says Goedhart. “If it isn’t, it’s just noise – and that noise will cause confusion and frustration.” Finally, Goedhart suggests taking control of the narrative around data with your customers. “Make suggestions and offer choices instead of asking open-ended questions,” he says. “If you tailor the information to each specific customer and start over each time asking what is needed, it will cause a lot of wasted time and energy. Customers are coming to you because you know the business – show them that by offering them what they need. If you can anticipate needs and offer solutions that fit those needs, 99% of the time your customers will be happy with the standard offering you’re suggesting. But you have to control that narrative – otherwise you open yourselves up to too much input and not only endless but unnecessary customization.”

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