By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service
Manufacturers of technical and office equipment have, just like manufacturers from other disciplines, embraced the importance of making service a component of their solutions. Offering service alongside traditional business practices makes a lot of sense for these companies—the overhead is low, the opportunity for subscription-based selling naturally increases, and there is implicit value in taking customer relationships beyond the transactional.
High tech manufacturers and sellers of both business and consumer products have embraced this approach, but with a massive diversity of devices and an uncertain geography to manage service appointments within, many manufacturers don’t know where to begin bringing service under one roof.
High tech service is by no means a new concept, as much service happens in an inter-office level, or by independent labor. Many businesses, hoping to own more of their customers’ perceptions of their products, are looking at ways to own more of that service directly, and deliver it as upsells and new products.
For manufacturers looking to extend their brand loyalty and product portfolio, delivering more service under a centralized banner is a great way to do so. On the consumer side, Apple has long been the gold standard of this, and while most high tech manufacturers don’t have a trillion dollars in the bank to build an international service infrastructure, there are many little things that businesses can do to servitize themselves. Here are three major considerations.
Exploit the lowered barriers for connected service
High tech manufacturing provides a much shorter bridge to asset connectivity than, say, industrial equipment manufacturing. This means that for businesses looking to increase internal service scrutiny, the ability to get an internal view on output and performance of their assets is often baked in. It’s possible that your business decides to leave it there—You have visibility into performance and service of connected assets, while others service products. Or—you can use that as a launchpad towards tools like remote assistance, which would allow a business to scale up service without hiring and training a global workforce of technicians.
Take advantage of your infrastructure
As stated previously, most high tech equipment has an embedded service team through office-led IT departments, ITSM organizations, and other third party servicers. While it’s certainly a viable option to allow these organizations to function independently, many manufacturers are seeing the value of taking this brain-trust and directly sanctioning it. This ends up being a win-win—it offers manufacturers a degree of quality control over the servicers of their products, and takes some of the onus of certification and business development off of the small business. Moreover, it allows manufacturers to offer subscriptions while deploying technicians of their choice on their terms. Many firms hybridize these workers alongside home-grown servicers. To do this effectively, it’s important to consolidate service appointments, and planning and scheduling into a unified system. This helps organizations learn from service interactions, and keeps all customer touchpoints under a singular brand banner, and the data of those appointments managed in an internal system.
Bring it under one roof
We’ve talked about the embedded asset monitoring tools within manufacturing devices, and we’ve talked about the embedded knowledge among third-party labor and in-house servicers. As alluded to previously, for businesses to get the full value of servitization, these systems need to be interconnected. As I say all the time, your field service management needs to be the grand central station that these external elements all pass through. This allows for the management of labor, parts, assets, work, and customers under a single banner. Doing so minimizes operating costs, arms employees with the right tools to sell and manage assets, and brings all operations back to the core of delivering for your customers.