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December 30, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

My Favorite Future of Field Service Moments of 2019

December 30, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

My Favorite Future of Field Service Moments of 2019

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

It’s been an honor to be at the helm of Future of Field Service in 2019, and a pleasure to watch it grow. Since it’s inception at the very end of 2018, we’ve had immense support and interest from the industry – so thank you for that! I’m very passionate about giving the service community a platform to share, learn, and grow and I’m thankful for the opportunity Future of Field Service gives to do just that. Looking back on 2019 I’ve been thinking about how much we’ve accomplished this year and wanted to share with you all my personal favorite Future of Field Service moments of 2019.

First is the Future of Field Service Podcast launch! Since April 3rd, we’ve released a new podcast each Wednesday (with a few bonus episodes thrown in). I’ve wanted to launch a podcast for a very long time – I’ve long felt that the conversations I get to have with folks within the service community are just awesome, easily my favorite part of my job. Being able to share those conversations with our audience and enable all of you to feel a part of them is a lot of fun. We’ve been fortunate to have some amazing guests on to share their own journeys, their wins and struggles, and their valuable insights. I absolutely love the podcast platform and look forward to keeping the momentum going.

Next is our Women in Field Service series – a series we began in March in honor of International Women’s Day but decided to keep going all year long because of how interesting it has been to hear women’s journeys. I hope we all get to a point where there doesn’t need to be a “women in” callout, but particularly in field service I don’t think we’re there yet – there is work to be done to make the service industries a more equal ground, and a strong desire from many to work diligently to foster greater diversity. Until we accomplish those objectives, I think the practice of hearing and telling women’s journeys – what brought them to service, what their challenges have been, how they see the opportunity for women in this industry, and what they’ve learned – is important, and enjoyable. I’ve loved each of these interviews – you can find them all by searching “Women in Field Service” at www.futureoffieldservice.com. I especially loved this podcast episode, recorded live at Field Service Amelia Island. Check it out!

Third, I was honored to be invited to the grand opening of DHL’s Americas Innovation Center in Chicago to keynote the company’s The Future of The Services Supply Chain event. It was a gathering of a number of companies leading innovation within the service industries. It was interesting to hear what is on their minds, and it was also a pleasure to share with the audience some of what I’ve learned while interviewing service leaders throughout this year. DHL extended this invitation after finding value in Future of Field Service content, and this to me was a testament of how well the platform has taken off.

Finally, I was thrilled to attend my first Field Service Europe event. I’ve been attending Field Service Palm Springs for a decade, but had never before been to the European event. I was happy to represent Future of Field Service on the mainstage, first interviewing IFS customer Cubic Transportation and then moderating a great panel on AI and ML. Future of Field Service was well-received by the attendees of the event and we look forward to expanding further in the New Year.

There are many more moments I could list, but these four came to mind first. I owe a big thank you to IFS for trusting me to lead this resource and for working collaboratively to bring a valuable platform to the service community. I also owe a big thank you to contributor/podcast producer/jack-of-all-trades Tom Paquin for keeping this ship afloat. Finally, I owe each of YOU a big thank you for being a part of this journey. We have some wonderful plans for 2020 and I look forward to what’s in store.

December 26, 2019 | 6 Mins Read

Servitizing Star Wars

December 26, 2019 | 6 Mins Read

Servitizing Star Wars

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By Tom Paquin

It’s the end of December and that means one thing: There’s probably a new Star Wars movie coming out. Rapt as I am about the many technologies disrupting the world of service, my love for Star Wars stretches back slightly further in my life, so I thought it'd be fun to take the quiet time between Christmas and New Years to mash them together.

For as technologically advanced a society as we see in the Star Wars films, there are certain modern luxuries that they lack. There is, for instance, no internet in a galaxy far, far away, though I doubt the films would carry as much cultural cachet as they have if Harrison Ford kept pulling over the Millennium Falcon to check his Instagram likes. Imagine, then, how woefully undermanaged their field service systems must be.

Don’t worry—I’ve done the imagining for you! I've thought up a few scenarios from the original Star Wars trilogy and how they might be improved with a service-oriented overhaul (a sentence I honestly never expected to write). And hey, just like Luke’s journey through those films mirrors myths and stories passed down from generation to generation, perhaps you’ll see some of your own business in these scenarios.

Moisture Farming

Before Luke goes on his adventure and becomes a Jedi Knight, he’s just a regular schlub like you and me, working for a living. Luke lives on Tatooine, a desert planet, and unsurprisingly, the crop of choice in this arid wasteland is water, which is what he and his aunt and uncle harvest (In a galaxy of infinite planets, it’s often seemed bizarre to me that anyone would move to a dust ball like Tatooine, but hey, people move to Nevada all the time).

When it comes to managing the farm, Luke’s uncle Owen has some serious labor issues. He relies exclusively on “automation” (literal robots) for non-Luke headcount, as far as we can tell. Their primary job is traveling out to the various moisture vaporators—large tower-like structures used to harvest water—and servicing them. For that purpose, he’s purchased C-3PO, a droid that understands the binary language of moisture vaporators.

Here’s the problem—C-3PO can diagnose issues with the vaporators, but he’s not actually equipped with the utilities to service them. His counterpart, R2-D2, has the toolset to resolve issues as they arise. But because of the lack of connectivity inherent in the vaporator infrastructure, both droids need to physically visit each location, C-3PO needs to talk to the moisture vaporator, and then R2-D2 will attach his multi-tool and spin it around if necessary, which apparently fixes things.

There are a few obvious efficiency fixes available off the bat. Remote connectivity is the one we’ve already mentioned, and would arguably be the most useful. We can assume that moisture vaporators are already smart devices, as they apparently are capable of speech. It would behoove Luke’s family to figure out a way to connect these systems to an internal hub, where they can be more effectively managed.

C-3PO’s field readiness is questionable at best, what with his lack of repair knowledge and his inability to flex his arms more than 45 degrees. Imagine how much more effective their job could be with 3PO in a call center environment. It would be an excellent use of his fluency of more than 6 million forms of communication. Couple that with a shared view with R2-D2, and C-3PO could spend his day running operations from the comfort of the Lars homestead.

Tibanna Gas Mining

In The Empire Strikes Back, our heroes take refuge in Cloud City, a structure floating in the atmosphere of a gas giant planet called Bespin. Cloud City itself is a Tibanna gas mine, run by Han Solo’s old friend, Lando Calrissian.

Lando spends several of his first minutes onscreen griping about labor, supply, and trade issues on Cloud City. This is the inherent issue with packaging and selling a commodity, especially one requiring the scale of trade operations that intergalactic travel requires—and trade disputes are actually a huge problem in the Star Wars universe.

The regulatory challenges are another issue. As a self-proclaimed “small operation”, Lando has run into growing pains as Cloud City’s success catches the eye of the Imperial Alliance, the tyrannical empire that Darth Vader operates from.

Lando strikes a dangerous bargain with Vader—He betrays his friends to win the empire’s favor, a plan which almost immediately backfires as Vader continually rearranges the conditions of the deal, which, frankly, should be expected when you’re dealing with space fascists who practice a religion that they call “The Dark Side”.

This is an instance where smart contract management could really make a difference. A conditional SLA that is triggered in the event of an exception, like an imperial Star Destroyer orbiting Bespin, could help the entire organization understand the threat level, and agreed-upon conditions thought which to handle this.

With respect to the trade issues, this is a great opportunity for servitization. Lando could practically step away from offering a bare commodity, and, with solid planning, scheduling, parts management, and optimization services build a service platform around delivery and implementation of tibanna for whatever it is the gas is used for. By diversifying their business portfolio, not only can they bypass trade route restrictions by building their own fleet, but also offer a more viable, scalable product in the long run. It’s new revenue, new opportunities, and precipitously low overhead, no need to hand over his friend to a bounty hunter.

Death Star Construction

Switching to the bad guys, we actually see them building Death Stars or Death Star-adjacent things in at least four films over the course of series history, so you could argue that for Star Wars, Death Stars are as ubiquitous as trade disputes. We’re going to talk about the second Death Star, still in construction in 1983’s Return of the Jedi.

In the first scene of the film, Darth Vader checks on progress of the construction, only to learn that they’re behind schedule. In response, commander Jerjerrod, who is in charge of the opration, indicates that he needs more men.

Legal scholars have actually weighed in on some of the labor challenges with this Death Star, and it’s important to remember that in addition to being a planet-destroying weapon wielded by a totalitarian regime, it’s also an active construction site.

Labor constrictions are not in any way new to service operations, and while Vader promises “New ways to motivate” the crew, his strategy will likely boil down to a lot of force choking, which I feel doesn’t promote a positive culture.

Proper project management software can help organizations like the empire do more with less, which will help support maintaining the sort of tight schedules that military contracts require. There’s also a huge opportunity here to leverage a contingent labor force. With the right utilities, organizations can dispatch skilled labor effectively, track their productivity, and also keep an eye on whether or not they’re blown up when the rebels destroy the base after deactivating the shield generator with the help of the Ewoks.

Incredibly, there are dozens of other Star Wars related topics that could be discussed here (2002’s Attack of the Clones has three lengthy sequences in factories) but for now, I’ll leave you with this: There’s plenty to be learned from the poorly-managed service practices in the Star Wars universe. From mismanaged labor to developing servitized products, the contrasts abound to businesses in our own galaxy. Make sure your own service operation isn’t stuck in the mindset of “A long time ago.”

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December 25, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Happy Holidays from the Future of Field Service!

December 25, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Happy Holidays from the Future of Field Service!

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No Podcast this week, but Sarah's here with some warm Christmas wishes for you and your family. We can't wait to share more stories from the field with you in 2020!

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December 23, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

The Top 5 Challenges of Digital Service Transformation

December 23, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

The Top 5 Challenges of Digital Service Transformation

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

recently interviewed Hilbrand Rustema, Founder of Noventum Service Management – a consulting firm dedicated to unlocking the value of service business for organizations. Noventum has more than 75 consultants worldwide serving all major industry regions including Germany, France, Spain, Benelux, Scandinavia, UK, North America and China. The firm has led successful transformations for more than 200 clients, giving Hilbrand a unique collective look at the state of service. Stay tuned for his podcast episode coming in early January, but leading up to I wanted to share his opinion of the top five challenges service organizations face today:

1: Alignment among senior management within a company. “The first critical step to successful transformation is that there has to be alignment on what the service vision is and what the strategy should be. That is a top challenge — alignment not just among service leadership but all the way up to the to the C-suite. This is imperative to transformation but quite a challenge to achieve,” says Hilbrand.

This is representative of many discussions I’ve had about the fact that for companies to bring to fruition the opportunity of service, service can no longer be a siloed function of the company. For organizations that have operated in a siloed manner historically, getting on the same page about the role service can play and the growth opportunity it provides is an essential first step – then comes digging into how to evolve the company to get to that end goal.

2: Harmonizing and digitizing the service operating model. “For a company operating across all different countries, creating a platform for profitable growth and of course to be able to provide superior customer experience is a foundational but challenging starting point. It’s also important to consider, simultaneously, providing a good people experience for those that work in your service organization.”

Only once alignment is achieved should the work begin on harmonizing and digitizing the service operating model, and this shouldn’t be done in a vacuum – but as a strategic part of the company’s overall strategy. As you harmonize, a lot of change management comes into play as you’re asking regions and business units to do things different than they’ve always done. As you digitize, you must do so pragmatically and in a way that builds the trust and respect – and therefore cooperation – of your frontline employees.

3: To design and implement new digital service propositions. “This is the future for the industry. Through digital services, companies can answer real customer needs in a way that represents let's say double-digit growth opportunity. But to be successful, there are challenges in think about what the offering is, what the sales model for it is, what the delivery model would be, and so on.”

Companies that see the wealth of opportunity service provides are tapping into the world of digital services. Looking for adjacent services to provide is one thing but thinking about how you can turn insights and experiences into value your customers are willing to pay for is the future.

4: Building the right IT infrastructure. “When you get into the enabling aspects of digital service, it’s imperative to get the right IT solution architecture in place for the company at large and then particularly to enable service.”

We’ve talked a lot on Future of Field Service about setting a solid foundation for your service growth. Having the right systems in place to serve your customers seamlessly is essential before you begin looking at how to diversify, grow, and expand.

5: Fostering and nurturing the right talent. “When you really get into implementation mode, you often come across the needs for different competencies of people. It becomes increasingly important – and challenging – to attract, train, and develop your talent.”

Talent is a major topic among service leaders, and that is because it is a major pain point. Not only are many companies having trouble finding enough talent interested in service, but at the same time the skills and characteristics companies need of their field workforce are evolving. It’s important to both review your recruiting, hiring, and retention practices to see where you can improve while also putting a lot of thinking and planning into how it’s all changing for the future.

I think Hilbrand’s summary of the top challenges is spot on, what do you think? To hear more from him on these points as well as his thoughts on how to tackle these challenges and set yourself up for success, stay tuned for his podcast episode coming soon.

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December 19, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

Last-Mile Customer Communication is Ready for Prime Time

December 19, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

Last-Mile Customer Communication is Ready for Prime Time

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By Tom Paquin

Around this time two years ago, I wrote an article about the frustration associated with consumer location tracking for field operations, as organizations were, at the time, tinkering with Uber-style city overlays with real-time vehicle tracking.

I stressed how important it was to be thoughtful about what—and how—you’re sharing information with your customer. Vehicle tracking may seem initially like a good idea, but as a technician takes turns moving them away from a customer site, trips through drive-throughs, and the occasional potty break, research showed that too much last-mile information actually had the effect of lowering customer satisfaction rates. Yikes!

This isn’t any less true than it was in 2017, but the good news is that the tools allowing for a much more informed customer communication strategy are here, and it goes way beyond location tracking.

Let’s start with location tracking, though. While the technology remains fairly static from two years ago, the ways that it’s presented to customers have changed, owing to the fact that more organizations are wielding the same tools, but doing so in different ways. So, when once a technician’s location lived within an avatar on a map, now an individual will get a notification that a technician is three stops away. Those with more sophisticated field service management utilities who can more accurately estimate job time are able to use that queue data to shrink the size of an arrival window as the technician makes their way through that queue.

It’s a simple change that while not explicitly providing location information, provides an arguably more valuable service to the customer. To get an accurate estimate, though, as we often discuss, you need to understand your people, parts, and processes thoroughly.

That estimate, however, is a distillation of several different potentially relevant pieces of information that could benefit a customer, and organizations looking to set themselves apart have used their data as a means of differentiation.

While there are a number of salient examples of this, my favorite is what Rudy Goedhart told Sarah back in May about how Spencer Technologies is making data dashboards available to customers. Because Spencer has a sophisticated infrastructure of devices, they can provide live updates on turnaround times, uptime, and technician performance. They even use these lobbies on screens in the actual physical lobbies of their office, a tantalizing window into the inner workings of their service systems.

In order to do this, you need to be pretty confident about the data that you’re collecting. There are a few important further considerations about that data, as well, that will be the subject of an upcoming article. Frankly, it’s easy to build data collection in a way that provides a favorable view of your service performance…that is totally inaccurate. This is a disservice to both you, and your customer, and requires a real, thoughtful understanding of your business process. You need to get your house in order before you open the curtains and show your customers what you’re up to But if you do, you can really set yourself apart.

But are people actually doing this? How many people are, realistically, putting location, performance, and parts information in front of customers? According to a recent study that IFS completed in partnership with Strategies for Growth, about 13% of organizations are funneling operational data into customer-facing utilities. That might not seem like a lot, but when I look at similar data that I’ve put together on these topics, that’s double where we were just three years ago.

Given that growth, but thinking about it relative to today’s comparatively meager percentage, it seems like customer-facing functionality could be a powerful—and unique—tool in your efforts towards differentiation. You just have to make sure not only that you have the data behind it to provide accurate—not just favorable—information, but also that you’re articulating that information in a way that is actually constructive for the customer.

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December 18, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Live From Field Service Europe: Today’s Power and Tomorrow’s Potential for Machine Learning

December 18, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Live From Field Service Europe: Today’s Power and Tomorrow’s Potential for Machine Learning

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Last week, Sarah led a fascinating panel at Field Service Europe on the power and potential of machine learning and predictive maintenance. She was joined by Henrietta Haavisto, Rajat Kakar, Norbert Kamberg, and Michael Gosling, who shared their insights, successes, and plans for future development.

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December 16, 2019 | 5 Mins Read

Field Service Europe 2019 Key Themes & Takeaways

December 16, 2019 | 5 Mins Read

Field Service Europe 2019 Key Themes & Takeaways

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

While I could be considered a mainstay of the US WBR event circuit, last week was my first time not only attending but also speaking at WBR Field Service Europe in Amsterdam. It was exciting to experience a Field Service event through a slightly different lens but also reassuring that — regardless of geography — the challenges, changes, and demands that are facing service leaders remain consistent. While there are of course variations on objectives and strategy from industry to industry and business to business, the key themes among service organizations are shared. Here are some thoughts on how three of those key themes were presented this past week at Field Service Europe.

1: CX Focus Leads to An Outcomes-Based Service Journey

If you visit Future of Field Service, you’ll see that an increased focus on CX as well as the journey to outcomes-based service are both topics that are very well represented. This is because they are arguably two of the most important topics in field service today, and they are really quite interconnected. The increase in focus on CX that we saw begin about three or four years ago has led us to the point of clarity that outcomes-based service is our future. This is because once we began really listening to what our customers want, we learned that they don’t simply want a better experience – they want a different one. They will no longer settle for good service, they want seamlessness and peace of mind that can only be delivered when guaranteeing outcomes.

Miguel Ángel Hernanz, VP, Head of Global Service Delivery Transformation at Philips led a presentation on Tuesday during which he provided insight into how Philips has worked to master CX. He discussed the importance of a “seamlessly orchestrated” CX and described how the company set criteria to guide its evolution from transaction to relationship, fragmented information to a connected customer view, generic experiences to personalized journeys, scattered self-help to end-to-end self-help, and a reactive model to a preventative and proactive approach.

It was apparent that the majority of attendees at the event have come to understand that their focus on CX is forcing the need to migrate to an outcomes-based service model. What is less clear, it seems, is how to smoothly pave the path from a traditional service model to an outcomes-based model. It’s not a quick or easy transition, of course, and I observed that, while resigned to the need to embrace outcomes, there’s a fairly universal struggle with the “how.” Jan Van Dijk, Regional Connected Services Sales Leader for Benelux at Honeywell BV offered some words of wisdom in his session on Tuesday afternoon, which was that siloes within the organization and disparate systems are two major issues that create a lack of measurable KPIs that will inhibit your ability to transform.

Another outcomes-based-related theme that came up in multiple sessions over the course of the event is the recognition that as service organizations progress on the path to delivering outcomes, it will become increasingly important to partner with other companies and create an ecosystem that delivers a truly seamless experience/outcome to the customer. It was mentioned that aligning strategically with partners and determining the right fit and competitive mix of that ecosystem are realities that will inevitably need to be grappled with and worked through.

2: Technology Is a Critical Enabler

There was a more simpler time in field service when technology was an impressive tool to use from a competitive standpoint and enabled significant productivity improvements and cost savings for companies – but arguably wasn’t an essential. That time has come and gone, and in today’s landscape while technology is still just an enabler, it has become a critical one. Perhaps 10 years ago it wasn’t impossible to deliver a strong CX without the latest tech at work, but for todays’ customers that are demanding outcomes it is most certainly impossible. Companies now must rely on technology to help meet the growing needs and increasing demands of their customers – you can’t simply work harder to keep up, you have to leverage technology to work smarter.

I interviewed IFS customer Mike Gosling, IT Service Platforms manager at Cubic Transportation Systems for a keynote session on Wednesday morning. Cubic has moved to outcomes-based service and relies in part on IFS Field Service Management and AI-based Planning & Scheduling Optimization to deliver those outcomes. When preparing for our session, Mike pointed out that in an outcomes-based model it become impossible to just work harder than you have before to meet those demands – his experience has illustrated firsthand that you have to rely heavier on technology. “Technology is the path to outcomes-based service,” says Mike. “Adding field engineers to meet the demands of outcomes is not reasonable – technology is critical in today’s service landscape.”

3: Changes to The Technician Role Are Inevitable, Although Unclear

I moderated a panel Wednesday morning on AI and ML that included Henrietta Haavisto, Head of Service Transformation Change Management, Global Maintenance at KONE, Rajat Kakar, VP Services Business at Fujitsu, Norbert Kamberg, Director, Global Operations - Field Services & Tools at Siemens Power & Gas, as well as Mike of Cubic. We discussed where each of these organizations stands in leveraging AI and ML, which was interesting. But where the debate heated up is not if these tools are important (they are) or whether they’ll be used (they are, and they will be further) but how the use will impact the role of the field technician. Some panelists held firm that field techs remain the company’s most valuable resource. This camp maintained that while the technicians’ roles may shift to be more centered on relationship building and nurturing, a consultative approach, and the need to deliver a positive human experience as the face of the brand; they will never be, in any way, replaced by AI.

Other panelists felt less certain of this truth, pointing to examples where advanced AI and robotics could actually eliminate technicians’ roles. This made for a lively conversation that ultimately concluded with the point that while it is impossible to predict the future, what is certain is that changes to the field technician role are inevitable. This is due to the evolution of how service is delivered as we move to outcomes, because of the increased reliance on technology moving forward and the possibility of automating (at least some) tasks, and even related to the differences in skill sets among newer technicians that will be joining the workforce as all of these changes unfold.

There was plenty more food for thought at Field Service Europe that I plan to share in the coming weeks! Stay tuned.

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December 13, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

In Service, the Death of the App Has Been (Somewhat) Exaggerated

December 13, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

In Service, the Death of the App Has Been (Somewhat) Exaggerated

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By Tom Paquin

Take a look at your phone. Specifically, take a look at the apps on your phone. Go ahead and minimize this for a second. I’ll wait.

Are they a mess?

The average phone is inundated with a minimum of five apps that are so old and unused that they aren’t even compatible with the current device that they're on. What do you think is the longest you’ve gone without opening an app? I admit that I’m a bit of an app drawer neat freak, but my wife has pages upon pages of shovelware games, decade-old event utilities, (I think it’s okay to delete the Coachella 2011 event portal) and assorted novelties from the early iPhone era that trying to find something actually important for her is an emotional journey.

I feel like all of that app clutter contributes to a true fact about apps—People don’t take advantage of apps from brands that they interact with in the real world. They might download the app, sure, but it’s rare that they’ll interact with it in a practical way. Because of this, corporate entities have grown cynical of mobile apps, emphasizing them less than they did in their heyday and marginalizing their usefulness.

There are, however, a ton of opportunities to leverage apps for service, especially home service, in ways that provide value to your customer as well as your organization. The hard part is getting people to care. The next hardest part is figuring out what to do with the app.

Getting People to Care

What corporate apps do you actually use on a regular basis? For me, it’s the Dunkin’ Donuts app, credit card apps, and airline apps. These apps serve a fundamental purpose better supported not just by a mobile form factor but also explicitly by what the app infrastructure is capable of (because if you’re delivering functionality that isn’t app-optimized, people will just go to your mobile site).

Dunkin Donuts, and I assume Starbucks too, if you must (Sarah and I continue to bicker about the superior coffee) offer one-touch ordering of your favorites, allowing you to skip the line. Other restaurants are jumping on this successful trend, to varying degrees of success. For airlines, a mobile pass means one-touch access to your ticket, no paper to fiddle with, no kiosk to wait in line for. Credit card sites often have higher security, so touch or face ID access is a huge benefit, as is having your spending history and balance available if you ever have the misfortune of standing in a Louis Vuitton with a wide-eye person that you love very dearly.

And the benefits go both ways, too! These apps can tell organizations a lot more than a website about consumer behavior, peak order times, and, paired with geolocation data (creepy as it might be) can tell us a lot about how people move through a physical space. Done right, the benefit is there for both groups.

Deriving benefits for services might be a slightly more complex ask, depending on the types of business that you operate in, but there are a few things that organizations have proven work very well.

Building a Beneficial App

Right off the bat, people will be more reluctant to download an app from a straight service play. Nobody wants to think about when they’ll need service, so the key, in many instances, is to get them to do it when they need service.

Imagine this: An industrial manufacturer calls up a call center and says a piece of equipment isn’t working. The call center employee says they can ping them a link to their phone to download the app and they can register with their phone number. At this point they’ll be reconnected to the call center worker. The app’s first function is to provide that call center access to the phone camera to get a visual, and to walk the customer through diagnostics. Pop in some augmented reality with the shared view and you have an engine for remote repairs, ideally saving time for both the service team and the customer.

The other app functionality that is immensely valuable is push notifications. Push notifications are of course cheaper than SMS, and read with much higher frequency than email, so it allows the customer to have the information that you want them to have at a price more equitable tot he company. This can be things like promotional messages, though I’d advise that you have an extremely light hand with those. What’s more beneficial are appointment updates, exception alerts, and technician location information. Push can therefore save on the bottom line, provide a new channel to retain customers, and also give customers a view that helps set your firm apart.

The final important thing about your app is to ensure that it offers all the functionality of your desktop utilities and more. This includes account consistency across devices. Is there anything more infuriating than completing a task on a desktop and have it not reflected in mobile? You need to build in the same language, and consider that some customers might start a task in one location and complete them in another.

There are dozens of other topics we can cover around this, like build or buy, security, and APIs, so I’m certain that we will revisit this in the future. For now, though, I’ll leave you with this: If you’re considering creating an app, or revamping your current one, think very carefully about the value, the messaging, but above all, the function.

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December 11, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Beyond Customer Satisfaction to Customer Bliss

December 11, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Beyond Customer Satisfaction to Customer Bliss

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Sarah chats with Jeanne Bliss, Founder and CEO of Customer Bliss and Author of four CX-related books for some tactical advice on what it takes in today’s competitive landscape to truly set yourself apart with your customers.

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December 9, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

Ensuring Your Technology Is an Asset, Not a Liability

December 9, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

Ensuring Your Technology Is an Asset, Not a Liability

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

I snapped this picture a couple of weeks ago while visiting NYC – I though the mural was cool, and a good reminder that in a world where technology is rampant, it is crucial for us as humans to maintain control. The point was illustrated this past weekend when the company that makes my son’s Continuous Glucose Monitor – Dexcom – had a server outage. I’ve shared before on social media that my four-year old son, Evan, has Type 1 Diabetes. We use Dexcom to continuously monitor his blood sugar, which can be life saving for a child his age that is not yet able to recognize scary lows. Dexcom has a share feature which enables myself, my husband, and my son’s nurse to see his blood glucose level at all times – and even pairs with an app that will call us to wake us up if he goes low overnight. As you can imagine, this technology when compared with the alternative finger pricks every two hours – or even more – has changed the lives of families managing Type 1.

So, when the servers went down, many people panicked. Myself included, to a degree. But as we know, any technology can fail. And you have to be prepared for if and when it does. Yes, it is inconvenient to go back to finger pricks and to not have the comfort of seeing Evan’s numbers in real-time. But we must be able to provide him the care he needs even when the technology we love fails. We need to keep in mind the point of this picture – technology is a useful servant, but we are the masters.

This experience got me thinking about how this relates to the companies I talk with leveraging technology. For many, the phase of managing change and promoting true adoption is still in play. But at some point, in the not-so-distant future, that will not be the case. We’ll have employees that have come to depend on – even embrace – the technologies you’ve given them. And we’ll see a new generation of technicians come on board for which the days of manual work is just unfathomable. As this shift occurs, we need to be thinking about how to make technology our useful servant but not our master. How do we set contingency plans for when things go wrong? Because they inevitably will.

Another aspect of ensuring technology is an asset to your organization rather than a liability is in how you maintain control of its impact on your customer experience. There’s no better illustration to me of technology as a (maddening) master than a poorly architected chatbot experience when calling in for support on an important issue. Are you mastering the deployment of your technology so that when a customer does encounter it, the experience is a positive one? And are you maintaining control of how to define when it is a customer needs human intervention?

There’s a lot to consider here, and that’s why this image caught my eye. My experience this past weekend with Dexcom hit the point home, and I thought it was an interesting question to pose to you all – how are you ensuring within your organizations (and even your personal lives) that technology is your useful servant, and not your master? Food for thought!

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