Medical Device Companies: Using Mobile Knowledge Management to Set Yourself Apart in a Crowded Market

According to the International Trade Administration (ITA), the U.S. is the largest medical device market in the world, with a market size of around $155 billion in 2017. The UK isn’t far behind. The 3rd largest in the EU, it’s valued at over 9.5 billion and rapidly growing to compete with its European neighbors. It’s no wonder that one of the top challenges for this industry is dealing with a very crowded market. Distinguishing oneself from other medical device companies that offer similar products has become increasingly difficult.

In an attempt to differentiate themselves from competitors, companies have started relying more and more on their service centers. According to a survey conducted by WBR from the Field Service Medical 2016 event, service has become a top priority for medical device companies.

Increasingly, field service companies – medical equipment companies included – are looking to knowledge management technology as a way to set their service teams apart from the rest. It’s easy to see why! According to the Aberdeen Group, field service organizations that leverage knowledge management tools for service have been able to outperform their peers in key metrics such as customer retention, SLA compliance and first-time fix rates.

However, it isn’t enough to simply implement a knowledge management system and expect results. Organizations must leverage it to its fullest potential in order to reduce first-time fix rates and improve customer satisfaction. So, what does this mean?

The Knowledge Must Be Mobile

The best knowledge management system in the world still won’t be able to help a technician if they can’t access it when they need it. Often time, medical device technicians work in areas with an unreliable connection or no service entirely. This is why your knowledge management system must be mobile and have offline capabilities.

In order to drive first-time fix rates up and improve customer service, your techs have to be able to access the information they need at the point of service, whether or not they’re able to connect to the internet.

The Knowledge Must Be Useful

Knowledge management systems must contain the knowledge technicians need while on site. Sounds simple, right? But think about it. This includes work order and job information, as well as all the technical information for each piece of equipment, such as parts lists, installation manuals and troubleshooting guides – basically, everything they need to know in order to get complex machinery up and running quickly. Ensuring that your knowledge management system is equipped to handle such complex data is essential to success in the field.

The Knowledge Must Meet FDA Regulations

Servicing medical devices is perhaps the most challenging of any field service. As every medical equipment company knows, the strict regulations and legal requirements employed by the FDA and MHRA that organizations are required to meet, such as validating that the correct medical device is present, connected to the appropriate utilities, performing according to the approved specifications and, when operating under normal conditions, and will consistently produce results in compliance with product specifications.

Therefore, your knowledge management system must also meet these strict regulations by ensuring installation and servicing documentation are available at all locations worldwide, and out of date documents are immediately removed to prevent unintended use.

Knowledge Management is Not One Size Fits All

When you consider everything a knowledge management system must contain in order to be of value to your entire med-tech service team, implementing one can seem like a herculean task. Which brings me to my last point – knowledge management systems are not “one size fits all”.

It’s important to choose a system that is designed specifically with field service in mind, and the company providing it understands what service teams need in order to meet those all-important KPIs and core metrics that are essential to running a well-oiled field service organization. This will make what could be a colossal effort much more manageable.

To learn more about how mobile knowledge management can help set medical device companies apart from their competition, watch our joint webinar with field service management partner ServiceMax from GE!


Your Field Service Customers’ Biggest Complaints Uncovered

With the growing field service industry becoming increasingly competitive, there’s never a better time to understand what key gripes customers have, providing you with the valuable opportunity to assess whether they reflect the situation in your particular business.

The need to deliver excellent customer service is no longer one of many targets for field service companies, it is increasingly becoming a key focus for many businesses. In a world where your customers have become far more empowered, their satisfaction can have a direct impact on the future success of your business.

Top 5 field service customer complaints

An Aberdeen Group report highlighted the results of the organisation’s research to understand the top reasons why customers were dissatisfied with their field service experience.

1. Engineer did not resolve the issue (lack of parts expertise)

58% of respondents placed this as their number one complaint, highlighting the urgent need to equip field service engineers with the relevant information at their fingertips, whilst out on-site. Without such important knowledge to hand, they are going to spend much time researching the parts required – both online and by time-consuming phone calls; not always coming up with the right solution during the first visit.

2. Long waiting time for appointments

At 51%, this was the second biggest complaint, with some customers saying that it could take up to three weeks to get someone on-site. When a fault occurs, speed is always of the essence as a delay in the fix has consequences for the customer. If it is a business, these will invariably be financial consequences.

3. Engineers not arriving on time

38% mentioned this complaint, putting it into third place. Waiting in for an engineer to arrive is no laughing matter. Time off work might have been taken if a residential customer, whereas a business might be diverting resource from elsewhere to facilitate the visit. Whatever the situation, an untimely appointment will impact negatively on the customer in some way.

4. Improper billing for a service issue

In fourth place and with 33%, customers hate poor clarity when it comes to billing. Hidden costs and service charges will always leave a bad taste and are often mentioned where field service complaints are concerned.

5. Inflexible or inconvenient appointment availability

30% of respondents highlighted this issue, which can always prove to be extremely frustrating. A residential customer might only be available during the evenings or weekends due to work commitments and a business might prefer to arrange a visit when their own operations will be impacted less.

Changing consumer dynamics is an opportunity for growth

It’s clear to see that the balance between the customer and service provider is changing in favour of the customer in so many industries – and this includes field service. Yet with the right strategy, this shift in balance can be developed into a long-lasting and profitable opportunity.

First and foremost, your organisation must develop systems to gather relevant and meaningful insight from customers. What are they prepared to pay for? How would they like to communicate? What matters to them? How do they determine value? Relying solely on a customer service survey after a job is completed might no longer be sufficient. Organisations are starting to have a dialogue with their customers in other ways at a time when the priority is not to fix the fault.

Your field service engineers are clearly visible at the front line and the better trained and equipped they are, the more able they will be to deliver excellent service on behalf of your company. Indeed, to effectively address the top customer complaint, engineers need to be fully able to access parts information and technical knowledge in an instant, wherever they are.

Field service companies of all sizes are embracing this requirement and with good reason that extends beyond delivering great service on the day. Knowledge-rich engineers will spend less time trying to identify the technical knowledge and parts information they need through phone calls to the office or suppliers and using online resources – they’ll have it right there to access on a mobile device. Less time on site means greater productivity, which will have a positive impact on profitability. And the greater customer satisfaction gained from a faster fix will prompt positive word-of-mouth and longer-term loyalty.

Field service of the future

In an industry that is heavily reliant on technology for productivity efficiencies, the leading field service companies of the future will put customer service firmly at the centre of everything that they do and develop systems that will enable them to consistently demonstrate an impressive service level, adding relevant value for the customer. This will require an ongoing commitment to investment where it matters, knowing that the return on investment will be positive for both the customer and the performance of the company overall.