By Tom Paquin
This is part of an ongoing series on the state and standards of service management software in 2020. Here are the previous articles in the series:
Last time in our series, we took a look at the broad capability categories of service management and broke them into three subsections: Service delivery, operations, and customer experience. Today we’re going to start breaking down the first of these three subsections, service delivery.
This should, on its surface, not be rocket science to people. Here are what are typically defined as some of the key features in a “big tent” sort of way:
- Service ticket management
- Pricing and billing
- SLA management
- Warranty management
- Performance management
- Knowledge management
- Repair management
- Asset management
- Mobile field service
It’s not unusual for a service vendor B to produce a list like this and say, “See? We have all the same capabilities as vendor A!” but looking at this list it’s pretty obvious that having a broad scope of capabilities has virtually no relationship to having the capabilities necessary to actually manage service processes effectively.
Let’s start at the top of the list. In the olden days, service ticket management meant that a dispatcher initiated an appointment that was often manually routed to a technician. Then CRM systems allowed those appointments to include customer history and SLA requirements. Then mobile devices allowed technicians to initiate appointments. Then online portals allowed for a diversity of channels for appointment booking. Then IoT-enabled devices allowed for zero-touch appointment booking.
And all that’s just at the first step of ticket management. Think about appointment initiation, notation, close out, and everything in between and you can see the layers of complexity that separate a true service capability from a check list box.
And that’s really the major thing to keep in mind with all of this. Service capabilities are worthless if all they do is replace a piece of paper in a file cabinet. Truly best-in-class systems and processes automate repetitive processes to free up backoffice time, provide a constant vector between the backoffice and the field workers, and use available technology to enhance and provide new solutions.
Looking at the “Knowledge management” capability is a great way to consider how businesses can use available technologies to improve capabilities. Five years ago, knowledge management may have consisted of guidebooks and instructional videos on mobile devices. Today, augmented reality is changing the world of knowledge management permanently, allowing less tenured technicians or even end-users the guidance to mitigate issues without a truck roll.
This makes each capability much more than it appears on paper. Service capabilities should rise to meet your service expectations. Otherwise the technology is simple overcomplicated shovelware that technicians will marginalize or completely ignore.
You may be wondering why we’re leaving out some key service capabilities here that are components of service delivery, like parts management, and we’ll talk more about that and others next time, when we discuss optimization. Until then, if you’re considering a new FSM implementation, or upgrading your current systems, remember to focus on your list of service needs, and find the technology that elevates itself to the level of service execution you aspire to.