When it Comes to Servicing Medical Devices, is There a “Silver Bullet”?

The demands placed on the medical device field service industry are growing rapidly. How can medical device service organizations achieve compliance, set themselves apart from the competition, and provide support for the new generation of technicians, all while ensuring they are achieving maximum efficiency in the field and increasing profitability?

In a new guest blog for Field Service Digital, AnswersAnywhere’s VP of Sales and Business Strategy Bo Wandell explores why more and more medical equipment companies are turning to knowledge management to help, and how they can ensure they have the right system in place.


AnswersAnywhere Enhances Integration with ServiceMax to Drive Field Service Knowledge Delivery

Seattle, WA – July 16, 2019 – AnswersAnywhere, the leading provider of knowledge management solutions for field service organizations, today announced the release of AnswersAnywhere for ServiceMax v2.0. The enhanced knowledge management solution and integration with ServiceMax is designed to provide field service technicians with fast and easy access to the technical product knowledge required for efficient and successful customer visits.

AnswersAnywhere is a Knowledge-as-a-Service that combines people, process and technology to convert, deliver and continuously update technical product knowledge for use by field service technicians and technical support representatives. The types of source information that AnswersAnywhere knowledge experts convert into usable, interactive knowledge bases includes FAQs, parts lists, installation and service manuals, schematic drawings, exploded diagrams, product descriptions and alerts, safety notices, database output, images, videos, FAQs and MS Word and PDF documents. AnswersAnywhere knowledge experts have created and managed knowledge bases for over 200 companies.

ServiceMax is the global market-leader in Service Execution Management, a software category that includes both Field Service Management and Asset Service Management. ServiceMax provides a cloud-based software platform that improves the productivity of complex, equipment-centric service execution for OEMs, operators, and 3rd-party service providers.

“AnswersAnywhere and ServiceMax share the mission of helping manufacturers maximize the value of their field service organizations. The AnswersAnywhere/ServiceMax integrated solution unlocks new opportunities to increase customer satisfaction, first-time fix rates and efficiency,” said Bo Wandell, Vice President of Sales and Business Development for AnswersAnywhere. “As a result of the AnswersAnywhere/ServiceMax integration, field service technicians arrive at a customer site armed with all of the critical parts information and knowledge required to get a piece of equipment back up and running in the shortest possible timeframe.”

The newest version of AnswersAnywhere for ServiceMax features full, bi-directional data exchange with ServiceMax. Technicians can access relevant parts, installation and servicing knowledge from their ServiceMax work order by simply clicking on the integrated AnswersAnywhere button.

Wandell said, “Without leaving the ServiceMax field service management app, technicians can call AnswersAnywhere to gain immediate access to a knowledge base for the down equipment. To order a part in the AnswersAnywhere knowledge base, the technician can automatically drop the part number and quantity needed directly into their ServiceMax work order.”

As a cloud-based platform, AnswersAnywhere can deliver knowledge to field service staff worldwide. For technicians who work in environments without Internet access, AnswersAnywhere is fully operational in both online and offline modes.

According to Dara Sherafat, ServiceMax’s Senior Global Director of ISV Channels, field service organizations that have embraced digital transformation are realizing gains in service revenue and customer satisfaction while also reducing costs. He said, “A key component of a field service organization’s digital transformation strategy is delivering relevant knowledge when and where it’s needed. With the AnswersAnywhere/ServiceMax integrated solution, field service technicians have access to a mobile knowledge base that could contain tens of thousands of up-to-date knowledge articles, parts lists, parts images and product notices.”

Sherafat said that ServiceMax’s medtech customers are particularly interested in knowledge management solutions like AnswersAnywhere to meet government regulations and drive parts ordering efficiency. He said, “In addition to all of the efficiency gains delivered by digital transformation, medtech companies are interested in leveraging knowledge management solutions like AnswersAnywhere to ensure they meet FDA and EU MDR compliance requirements and eliminate costly, incorrect parts orders.”


About AnswersAnywhere:
AnswersAnywhere is a Knowledge-as-a-Service created by Infomill. Over 50,000 technical support representatives and field service technicians access a knowledgebase on the AnswersAnywhere platform every month to quickly and accurately install, service and repair equipment.

With offices in the US and UK, the AnswersAnywhere team has been creating innovative knowledge solutions since 1996. Infomill has a pedigree of successful aftermarket information projects with multi-national companies in HVAC, aerospace, mass transit, materials handling and other knowledge-critical sectors. Infomill is located in Derby, UK and Seattle, USA. Companies using the AnswersAnywhere platform include BUNN, Baxi, Centrica and Ferguson. 


About ServiceMax:
ServiceMax is the global leader in Service Execution Management, offering cloud-based software that improves the productivity of complex, equipment-centric service execution. Enterprise companies across the globe have turned to ServiceMax to help them keep the world running. Visit www.servicemax.com.

Case Study – The AA Home Services Increases Productivity

An end-to-end field service software integration from Solarvista and AnswersAnywhere delivers mobile knowledge management technology like never before to The Automobile Association (The AA) Home Services’ heating and plumbing field technicians.

One of the UK’s most trusted brands and the undisputed leader in Roadside Assistance, The Automobile Association (The AA) also provides cover for home and heating emergencies and maintenance as part of the AA Insurance Services. While both parts of the business had been operating on a single platform, it became apparent that Home Services required a separate operational system to drive the growth of the business and deliver the efficiencies it constantly sought in addition to increased customer satisfaction.

After a complex Request for Proposal process, Solarvista was chosen as the supplier best positioned to provide the AA with the service, system and support necessary. Solarvista was also poised to fully integrate its field service system with the PartsArena Pro solution, developed using the AnswersAnywhere platform. The result would prove to be of great benefit to the service technicians out in the field.

The AA Home Services operation wanted a field service management solution that would:

  • Drive and measure field service technician efficiency
  • Provide high levels of customer service
  • Ensure end-to-end job management
  • Provide a flexible system that could develop and grow with the business

Proven results show the benefits of integration

While delivering quantifiable results from the field workforce of heating and plumbing technician was just one objective of the software installation, this is where AnswersAnywhere and Solarvista delivers the greatest value and has so far contributed to some notable performance improvements since first launch in September 2016:

Overall productivity improvement of 15% (this is continually rising)

  • 17% improvement in ‘First Time Fix’ rates
  • AnswersAnywhere specifically improving ‘Second Time Fix’ rates
  • 8% reduction in time on site
  • Tasks per shift improvement of 15%
  • Reduction in calls made to the contact center by 20%

AnswersAnywhere is now supplying critical knowledge to the AA’s Home Service technicians, via offline mobile devices. They can access the latest interactive data and information from manufacturers and suppliers such as exploded diagrams, parts codes and manufacturer technical manuals while out in the field, facilitating a speedy and accurate parts search coupled with the ability to add parts lists to jobs for automated ordering. This helps to reduce field technician and back office effort and has markedly improved ‘Second Time Fix’ rate.

Ash Cripps, Home Services Business Systems Manager for The AA, comments: “In the age of self-service and automation, delivering fully integrated systems to the benefit of our members, employees and business alike was a critical requirement within our transformation project. The integration between Solarvista and the AnswersAnywhere platform that we have developed supports our technicians in resolving our members’ home emergencies as effectively and quickly as possible; and more of them per day, while also delivering a world class experience to our members.

The project has delivered significant improvements to both First and Second Fix Rates, significant improvement to our technicians’ productivity, while also enabling our technicians to very quickly and accurately order parts and book their own return visits face-to-face with members via their mobile devices.  Additionally, their own core van stock of parts auto-replenishes without anyone having to place orders.”

Paul Allen is a service technician for the AA. Shortlisted for Engineer of the Year, he has this to say about AnswersAnywhere: “Using this software has become part of my routine when servicing or repairing appliances to either get part numbers, fault finding charts or specific servicing routines that certain manufacturers ask for.

The time and money saved by not having to phone manufacturers or merchants for parts numbers or technical information is just one of the benefits of this software. The installation manuals and detailed diagrams make doing the job so much easier, which reduces the time spent on each job, helping you to get more visits completed in your working day.

And you also have the confidence that the part you have ordered will be the correct one as you can see it clearly in the diagrams. Most parts also have a photo in the information to help you identify then accurately. It is great to not have to pick up the phone to order parts or arrange any return visits.”

Continual improvement for optimum performance

The provision of data and functionality is very much an ongoing process for AnswersAnywhere knowledge engineers, with improvements and enhancements introduced at frequent intervals and data updated on a daily, almost real-time basis utilizing the new custom-built CMS built in house.  AnswersAnywhere will continue to work closely with Solarvista to ensure that the AA is receiving the optimum level of service.

AnswersAnywhere CEO, Jonathan Ralphs comments: “We’re delighted that our technology is part of the performance success of the AA Home Services, delivering enhanced customer service to homes across the UK. The project very clearly demonstrates the potential of our AnswersAnywhere platform. We can create an innovative knowledge management tool for any industry worldwide that suffers from an unproductive “knowledge gap” between manufacturer and parts information, and the field service engineer out on site.

Service technicians need the right knowledge at their fingertips to make informed, accurate and quick decisions; increasing their level of productivity significantly. To achieve this is a distinct competitive advantage and that is exactly what AnswersAnywhere can do.”

Contact us today to learn more about how AnswersAnywhere can benefit your field service organization. 

Is Your Field Service Knowledge Up to Date?

In field service, things change quickly. And that includes your company’s knowledge.

The ugly truth about knowledge management is that a knowledge base is outdated as soon as it’s published.

Installation manuals, parts lists, and technical information all need to be kept updated frequently.

Field service technicians lose faith in knowledge that’s inaccurate or outdated. Costly errors occur from ill-informed decisions. Incorrect parts are ordered. Time technicians don’t have is spent searching for the right answer.

All of this lowers their productivity, increases your service costs and frustrates your customers.

Sound familiar?

There’s no doubt that knowledgeable decision-making leads to more first-time fixes. And better business for you.

Get your priorities right

Trying to capture and manage all knowledge can be mind-blowing. It quickly becomes impossible, unless you have a more technological system in place (like AnswersAnywhere, dare I say?)

So, in the short-term, focus on the knowledge that your field service team actually NEEDS in order to service and fix the equipment.

It sounds simple, but you’d be amazed by how tangled up many businesses can become at this point.

Our advice? Speak to your field service team and establish these priorities with their involvement.

How to keep it current and accurate 

Once your knowledge priorities are clear, identify the key personnel to involve. You’ll probably need to get different departments talking to each other and sharing resources.

This in itself, can be a big hurdle.

Try to develop a system that works for your business and your level of knowledge management. Ponder these questions:

* Where can updated files and documents be found?

* Who collates them?

* Who processes them?

* Should your documents be coded or tagged?

* Where will your updated knowledge be stored?

* How will this be communicated? To whom?

Look Towards the Future

Granted, it’s time-consuming to keep your knowledge current. Especially with limited technology and support. But the potential benefits to productivity, customer service, and profitability make it an essential task to master.

And consider this: future, game-changing technology such as AI is likely to depend on it.

Think about what your knowledge needs to look like. Would templates help the management process? Should lengthy documents be summarized? Scrolling through a 200-page manual to find the answer is hardly productive.

Also consider how and where you’ll store your current knowledge. A shared drive? A login section on your website? In the office, ready to support phone queries?

The more central, collated and systemized your knowledge is, the easier it will be to keep current and accurate. 

How to transform your knowledge management system 

If your present way of doing things is driving you and your field service team mad, consider a change that’ll make a huge difference. Ask me about our Discovery Workshop. It’s an affordable starting point for a daunting task.

Our knowledge experts will walk you through the process of identifying and utilizing your knowledge. We provide you with the people, technology and expertise needed for a knowledge management project. Essentially, we do all the work and you avoid all the stress!

The result is the ability to arm your field service team with the answer to everything. Instantly.

This is how you thrash those KPIs, once and for all.