2018: A Year in Review

A new year is upon us (believe it or not)! Now is the perfect time for reflection on our achievements and lessons learned. 2018 was an incredibly busy year for AnswersAnywhere as we continued our upwards momentum. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from 2018 as we sail into the new year.

Were You at Field Service This Year? We Were!

2018 was a year of networking and travel for AnswersAnywhere, and we wouldn’t have it any other way! We were proud to sponsor three Field Service trade shows. First, we headed to sunny Palm Springs, CA in April for Field Service USA. In August, we jetted to the sandy beaches of Amelia Island, FL for Field Service Fall. Finally, we joined our AnswersAnywhere UK colleagues in Amsterdam to cap the year off at Field Service Europe.

Watch Bo Wandell, VP of Sales and Business Strategy demonstrate AnswersAnywhere at Field Service Fall ’18.

The Field Service events continue to be the premier place to learn about best practices and leading edge technology, while interacting with industry leaders and top tier vendors.

We’re not slowing down in the new year! Sign up to stay up to date on AnswersAnywhere news and events in 2019.

Taking Work to the Next Level at Knowledge18

Of course, the Field Service shows weren’t the only events we sponsored this year, as we attended Knowledge18 in Las Vegas, NV. AnswersAnywhere is a proud technology partner of ServiceNow, and Knowledge18 presented the perfect opportunity to network and reconnect with a community of ServiceNow customers, experts, and partners.

Learn More about our integration with ServiceNow Field Service Management!

Setting New Standards of Field Service Efficiency with ServiceMax

In May, we were extremely excited to announce the successful completion of certification testing of the app-to-app integration capabilities of AnswersAnywhere and the ServiceMax Field Service App. Through the new integration, users can seamlessly launch the AnswersAnywhere app from within the ServiceMax mobile app and pull up the relevant technical and parts knowledge, before passing the selected parts directly to the ServiceMax Field Service App.

This integration showcases the ongoing dedication of both AnswersAnywhere and ServiceMax to supporting service technicians in completing service visits faster, more accurately and more profitably.

Learn more about our partnership with ServiceMax and watch a video demonstration of our integration.

Most Read: How Mature is Your Field Service Organization?

Mobility continues to be a hot topic in field service, as our most popular blog of the year proves! More and more companies are making investing in mobile technology a priority for 2019 and beyond. However, it’s clear the industry has a way to go still. Market intelligence company, Aberdeen, recently published its Mobile Field Service Survey, which found that only 54% of field service organizations can be classified as “mature”.

Find out where your organization falls on this maturity scale!

3,000 Views and Counting!

At the end of November, we released our new AnswersAnywhere video. We’ve been thrilled at the great response the video has received, already receiving over 3,000 views on YouTube! The video runs just over one minute and provides insight into the process of transforming customers’ existing technical information into an interactive, optimized mobile knowledge base. If you haven’t already, watch now for a better understanding of how this powerful Knowledge-as-a-Service solution empowers your field service technicians with the knowledge they need.

Watch Video to Learn More

These are just a few of the highlights from an outstanding year. We can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store as we continue our commitment to knowledge management innovation and field service efficiency.

We’d love to talk to you about your organization’s knowledge management efforts! Contact us today for a no-obligation discussion.

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

The demands placed on the medical device field service industry are growing. New challenges emerge as the market grows increasingly competitive, a generation of technicians is retiring, new regulations are ushered in, and medical equipment grows more complex. The FDA, medical facilities, medical staff and patients are all calling upon service organizations to do more.

The question is 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?

Knowledge Management as the One Stop Source for Service Excellence

Increasingly, field service organizations are turning to knowledge management technology as the answer to their woes. It’s easy to see why: field service organizations that leverage knowledge management tools outperform their peers in key metrics such as SLA compliance and first-time fix rates. For medical staff and patients, this means shorter equipment downtimes and avoiding long wait times or delayed treatments.

Minimizing fix times and increasing customer satisfaction and retention are not the only benefits from implementing knowledge management. As every medical equipment company knows, the strict regulations and legal requirements employed by the FDA and MHRA that organizations are required to meet. Knowledge management helps organizations 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 Loss and an Aging Workforce

In addition, knowledge management can capture the years of experience and expertise that an aging field service technician has built up over their career. In fact, knowledge management is the ONLY solution that will ensure the new generation has access to the knowledge and experiences of their predecessors, making it the most effective training tool an organization can have in its arsenal.

So, is knowledge management the magic “silver bullet” for field service excellence. Yes and no. It does come closer than any other tool to being a cure-all for what ails field service organizations. However, knowledge management is not a one-size-fits-all solution and organizations must ensure that it is useful and accessible to the entire field service team.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Knowledge Management

According to a report released by Worldwide Business Research (WBR), 42% of organizations said the ability to empower technicians with access to specialized information is among the top challenges they face. This means that field service technicians have trouble getting access to the information they need to do their job efficiently and safely.

True Mobility is Key

Any technicians will tell you that connectivity is unreliable or unavailable while on site, particularly in locations such as hospitals and medical facilities. Because of this, many mobile knowledge solutions fail because they do not operate if they lose connection. When investing in a knowledge management system, an essential feature is that it is also available offline to ensure that your techs can access the information they need at the point of service, whether or not they’re able to connect to the internet.

Update, Update, Update

Having to continuously update, optimize and remove outdated information is a herculean task. However, it’s also extremely important not only to a technician’s job, but also in order to maintain compliance and help ensure patient safety.  A knowledge management system must have the capability to be updated frequently so technicians are getting the most current and reliable information available when on site.

Accessible, Searchable and Easy to Use

Any field service company that has been around for a few years will have an extensive amount of disparate documents, part lists, exploded diagrams, databases and product images totalling hundreds (even thousands!) of pages. Many companies attempt to remedy this issue by gathering as much of the data as they can and making it available to technicians in the form of PDFs.

However, the technician still has to search through this information to find what they want, often resulting in wasted time on site or repeat fixes. Technicians must be able to quickly find the information they need. If they can’t, then they aren’t going to use the knowledge base and all the added benefits mentioned above go out the window.

Auditability

Audits are an essential part of the medical device industry. Companies need to know (and report) who has access to what and when, and their knowledge management system should be able to support them in this. For example, if there’s an important safety notice or update to a service manual, has it been read and accepted by the service tech? If so, is the organization able to provide evidence of this? By creating audit trails and collecting the records in a centralized location will keep everything easily accessible and transparent for review.

From Nice-to-Have to Necessity

As the medical device industry continues to evolve and customer expectations rise, knowledge management will be essential to tackling all workforce, competitive and regulatory challenges and delivering on customer and patient expectations. However, for it to truly be the field service “Silver Bullet”, organizations must ensure it is offline-capable, up-to-date and a useful tool that technicians will want to use.

Posted by / October 12, 2018 / Posted in Blog
Knowledge-is-power

The 8 Biggest Knowledge Management Mistakes Revealed

Knowledge is power. But poor access to knowledge hampers productivity and can prove costly. How’s your knowledge management looking right now?

If it’s not benefiting your business, you need to do it better. Perhaps you’re planning some improvements? Apparently, 61% of field service executives are*.

Check whether you’re making any of the biggest knowledge management mistakes and learn how to gain more power from your knowledge.

Mistake 1: Insufficient vision

You might have a clear idea what sort of system would help your business now, but what about the future? As your operations and team grow, can that system expand to cope?

Think about the software you’re using. Ensure that it’s future-proof and expandable as far forward as you can see.

Any knowledge management system should take a long-term approach, otherwise you’ll be back to square one when your business grows, wondering how to manage things now.

Mistake 2: Lack of top-level buy-in

For a knowledge management system to be fully effective, it’s imperative that there’s a knowledge sharing culture – right from the very top. Key stakeholders need to understand the sheer impact that developing an efficient system can have – in terms of customer service, greater productivity and ultimately, the bottom line.

Mistake 3: Departments not collaborating

Don’t be fooled that knowledge management is the task of one department only; IT or customer service perhaps. All aspects of the organization need to collaborate to make it work. And all departments must benefit from it.

Mistake 4: Excess focus on knowledge collection

Whilst collection and transformation are key aspects of developing any form of knowledge management system – there’s more to it than that.

Not all knowledge is useful knowledge and it’s important to have a validation system in place, to ensure you’re sharing the knowledge that will truly make a difference.

After collection comes application – if you need specialist support at this point, it’s out there for you.

Mistake 5: Ignoring the user

If it doesn’t work for the user, it’s useless. So, get them involved from the start. In fact, ensure a team approach to the development of your system – all interested parties should contribute.

If you’re a field service organization, ask the technicians out in the field what they need and how it should best work for them. Ask them to review and test developments.

If your system is up and running, ask them for feedback – constantly. They will tell you how the system must develop to be at its most effective.

Mistake 6: Not making it mobile

This point is of particular importance to field service organizations. A larger proportion of your users are rarely in the office. And yet they need access to knowledge quickly, wherever they are working.

They will need technical information, diagrams and parts information. Don’t leave them phoning the office to gain this – the loss in productivity, not to mention the job frustration will be huge.

Technology makes it easy to develop a knowledge management system that can be accessed from any mobile device – even offline when no internet connection is available.

Mistake 7: Lack of training and education

Only by using a knowledge management system to its full potential will you maximize the benefits to the business. And that means training.

Older employees might need more time to get to grips with such a change, especially if it’s a piece of new software. Younger team members are likely to be far more embracing.

Whatever the make-up of your team, they need to understand what’s in it for them. How will it help them do their job better? Only then will they want to use it.

Mistake 8: Not keeping it up to date

Old data is of limited help – and could actually prompt more errors. Procedures must be in place to keep your knowledge management system updated – regularly.

Should specialist software be running your system, this will be easier. However, a bank of information stored on a shared drive will quickly become a monster, and dependent on the speed of information change, a vintage one at that.

Know how your system will be updated before you even start to create it.

What will you do with this information?

In today’s fast-moving world, the management and sharing of up-to-date knowledge can seem daunting. That’s why specialist companies exist to guide you through the process from start to finish.

If your system already exists, fix any of the mistakes you’re currently making. If you’re looking to scope out a new system, use the points to shape your project. And harness outside expertise to help you create a knowledge management system that will keep you on the front foot and deliver the best possible productivity.

* According to the Field Service USA 2018 Spend Report, 61% of field service executives are planning to invest in knowledge management tools within the next 24 months.

Posted by / September 6, 2018 / Posted in Blog
Field-Service-Organization

How “Mature” is Your Field Service Organization

Market intelligence company, Aberdeen, recently published its Mobile Field Service Survey. With the increased affordability of such utilities, there’s some interesting findings to draw from – whatever size your business.

Stages of maturity

Aberdeen started by segmenting its sample of 141 field service organizations into three distinct groups:

  • Immature – those companies able to track technician location only (fairly easy, as they will all have a mobile phone!)
  • Moderately mature – those tracking location and performance.
  • Mature – those focusing on several areas such as: data cleansing, breaking down business silos, incorporating mobile data into systems of engagement.

Where’s your business on this scale of maturity? 54% of Aberdeen’s sample was classed as mature.

It’s clear to see the growing trend of investing in mobile connectivity to improve performance and customer service.

Indeed, Aberdeen states that: “The pen-and-paper world of traditional field service is gradually dying.”

“The bottom line is simple: if organizations want to continue to grow, they’ll need to take their technicians’ mobile devices and tie them into a more robust family of applications.”

Key challenges for progression

The survey highlights that whether you’re a mature or immature organization, you’re facing challenges.

Cost

By far the biggest issue for the least mature field service organizations is cost. 79% of immature respondents cited this challenge. Not surprising.

To move your connectivity from one of location to performance takes investment. Investment that will drive your business forward.

And it’s all down to prioritization, says Aberdeen: “Investment in mobility is an acknowledgment that growth is a priority for an organization. By getting hung up on costs, less mature organizations are exposing an unwillingness to make tactical investments to drive the business forward.”

This begs a pertinent question: Does your business view technology investment as a necessary evil, or a tool for growth?

Resistance to change

Another key challenge for immature firms is the lack of enthusiasm for technology development, often from management. 36% of immature organizations mentioned this challenge.

Unsurprisingly, this was not a notable concern for mature businesses, though they can be hampered by resistance from the front-line (24% of mature firms mentioned this).

Mature businesses will continue to develop

The picture is far from static. Having connected their field service technicians in ways to help with real-time knowledge management and performance, these leading operators have fresh goals in their sites:

1. Speed of service

88% of mature firms mentioned their desire to streamline their service speed further. Not only does this offer cost-savings, it also allows them to grow their business from the same resource base.

2. Service consistency / standardization

Also leading the priorities at 88%, more developed field service operators can see the benefits of striving for a tightly managed system.

3. Billing accuracy

Highlighting how mobile systems can now connect to other parts of the business such as billing systems and CRM. This move will leverage further benefits in terms of efficiencies and service.

Where will the money be spent?

It’s quite clear from the Aberdeen survey, that all sizes of organizations have three areas targeted for future expenditure:

  1. Upgrade mobile infrastructure

The biggest priority for mature companies, who are mindful of investing in legacy systems.

  1. Provide service technicians with work-related information in real-time

A constant investment priority for all sizes of field service operation.

  1. Establish systems and metrics to track service performance in real-time

Not surprisingly, this was the top focus for immature firms, looking to make their first investment into mobile performance management.

What should you do now?

Mobile field service and the technology required to operate it, has been a key focus for some time. This is set to continue – reaching new heights. The goal posts will keep moving and even mature organizations will continue to invest and further connect their operations.

Aberdeen group summarizes three critical areas to address, should you wish to move your field service business into a state of maturity. At Infomill, we wholeheartedly endorse this advice:

  • Rethink how your organization prioritizes cost. Upfront cost shouldn’t be an expense when it’s an investment in the first brick on a road to growth.
  • Your online environment is only as useful as the system it connects to.
  • Enrich your technicians by building beyond location. By doing so, you’re empowering them, whilst keeping them accountable.
Posted by / August 25, 2018 / Posted in Blog
Field-Service

The Silver Tsunami: Threat or Opportunity for Field Service?

The field service population is aging.

You might feel that has little relevance to your business. But, what about when they reach retirement age?

You’re thinking through your own team now. John’s 58 and Paul is 62. Jackie must be around 60 as well. They’re valuable, trained and knowledgeable members of your team. But where is that knowledge kept?  It’s in their head! And their head will retire soon.

So what?

Out with the old and in with the new then?

The Silver Tsunami, also termed the Grey Tsunami, refers to the large number of baby-boomers reaching retirement age. The growing vacuum is underway and having a greater impact than you might imagine on many different organizations.

Consider this. Worldwide, those aged over 60 years are expected to double by 2050, rising from 962 million in 2017 to a whopping 2.1 billion in 2050. In the UK alone, those aged over 65 will account for almost 25% of the population by 2045.

It’s a threat!

Some might be very worried. If you have a large field service team, you might be very worried. Time-served technicians have consolidated their ever-growing industry knowledge from years of experience, coupled with disparate data sources such as technical manuals and supplier support. Their own knowledge is what delivers such a high standard of service for your customers.

Let’s look at the new, younger model hired to replace them. Granted, they’ll be keen to please, but they will lack the in-depth knowledge built up by your Silver employee throughout his career. How can your newbie access all this knowledge? Chances are, your data system is not as robust as the employee that’s about to retire from your business.

There’s the problem. The immediate outcome could be a fall in service levels, more time spent on each call, more errors made and costly inefficiencies creeping in.

In a recent survey conducted by The Service Council (TSC), 7 out of 10 organizations indicated that the loss of talent and knowledge in field service was the biggest challenge their company was either currently facing, or would be facing in the next 5-10 years.

It’s an opportunity!

Before you conclude that the end must be nigh, let’s look at the other side of the coin. Let’s look at this new, younger model that is to be your next field service technician.

The Millennial.

Generally defined as those born between the 1980s and the early 2000s, Millennials (or Generation Y) do have some distinctive strengths. And one particularly relevant here is that they are tech-savvy. Beyond a doubt. Whether it’s their constant desire to remain connected via social media or their ease at using technology in the workplace, Millennials are far more technically switched on than Generation X or Baby-Boomers.

Here’s the key point: your lack of central knowledge can be solved by technology. Your new, Millennial employees are ready and waiting to embrace this technology to its full potential.

Older employees can get stuck in their ways. Transforming to a technology-led working environment is a challenge that they generally resist. Not so with Millennials!

This is the perfect opportunity to transform your business. To ensure that you’re never at risk of losing this knowledge again. To empower your workforce to deliver exemplary service.

This is the perfect opportunity to excel, leaving your competitors wondering what happened.

How will your organization respond?

So, now you have a choice. You can keep worrying that you’re losing some of your best field service technicians, or you can do something about it and steal the advantage.

How do you do that, exactly? Develop a system to capture the knowledge and deploy it directly to those that need it. In short, develop a knowledge management solution.

The Aberdeen Group states that Best-in-Class organizations are 62% more likely to have a centralized repository of service data, ensuring critical service knowledge doesn’t leave the organization along with the technician. And 67% of Best-in-Class are more likely to provide access to this via mobile devices. Service data includes access to maintenance and break/fix information in addition to specific parts details required for repair.

Most mobile tools in field service focus on automating the administrative side of an organization. They decrease paperwork, expediate invoicing and eliminate billing errors. While these types of mobile tools certainly have their place, they do little to support technicians where they need it most – at the point of service.

It’s costly, right?

There’s no denying that such a move is an investment. But consider these two things:

    • The cost of not transforming your knowledge management.
    • The service and productivity advantage of integrating a system that stands you ahead of your competitors.

Will you choose to surf those tsunami waves with ease? We’d love to demonstrate the likely return on investment and show you how such a knowledge management system could transform the performance of your business.

Posted by / August 7, 2018 / Posted in Blog
Common-Knowledge-Management-Mistakes

Common Knowledge Management Mistakes That Can Sink a Field Service Organization

“Good enough” is no longer good enough

When talking to other attendees at the recent Field Service USA conference, I heard one common phrase time and time again. After telling the person about our AnswersAnywhere Knowledge-as-a-Service solution, they would reply, “Oh, our field service organization already has a knowledge base”.

This usually meant that the organization would have a document management or collaborative platform, such as SharePoint or web-based repository where they would upload PDFs of technical manuals, parts catalogs, etc… After discussing their current system at length, the attendee would frequently conclude that their system wasn’t perfect, but it was “good enough”.

Knowledge management has been a trending topic in field service, and is only becoming increasingly so. According to the Field Service USA 2018 Spend Report, 61% of field service executives are planning on investing in knowledge management tools within the next 24 months.

It’s easy to understand why. A recent study by The Service Council noted that time spent looking for information is a top concern for field service technicians, with over 30% of techs ranking it as the top pressure in their job. In addition, Aberdeen Group has found that 19% of first-time fixes are missed due to lack of technical and parts information at the point of service.

As customers demand better, more efficient service when their equipment breaks, it stands to reason that the best way for organizations to do this is by providing technicians with the information they need to improve first-time fix rates.

“Knowledge Management” is not the same as “Field Service Knowledge Management”

So, what do all these stats have to do with my conversations at Field Service USA? It highlights the massive disconnect between the idea of knowledge management and what field service technicians actually need out of a knowledge base.

Field service is an industry unlike any other. Therefore, what a field service technician needs out of their knowledge base in order to do their job efficiently is also unique, and very rarely provided by most knowledge management systems.

So, what are the common mistakes that companies are making when it comes to knowledge management?

  1. Not creating a curated, accessible knowledge base
    Any field service company that has been around for a few years will have an extensive amount of disparate documents, part lists, exploded diagrams, databases and product images totaling hundreds (even thousands!) of pages. Many companies attempt to remedy this issue by gathering as much of the data as they can and making it available to technicians in the form of PDFs.

    However, the technician still has to search through this information to find what they want, often resulting in wasted time on site or repeat fixes. Technicians must be able to quickly find the information they need. This includes being able to search large quantities of information, click on related hyperlinks, zoom in on exploded diagrams and locate part numbers easily.

  2. Not making the knowledge base mobile or available offline
    For the last few years, “Mobility” has been an industry term on everyone’s lips. Mobile technology is helping service centers remove paper-based process while giving management insight into field performance and resources, and providing technicians with the most up-to-date work order and job information while in the field.

    However, extending mobile capabilities to field service knowledge bases is still an area that is frequently overlooked. Equally as important is the need for knowledge bases to be available offline to ensure that your techs can access the information they need at the point of service, whether or not they’re able to connect to the internet.

  3. Not updating the information often enough.
    Having to continuously update, optimize and remove outdated information is a herculean task. However, it’s also extremely important to technician’s job. In some industries, such as medical devices, it’s even required in order to maintain compliance and help ensure patient safety.  A knowledge management system must have the capability to be updated frequently so technicians are getting the most current and reliable information available when on site.

    Often times, this requires more time or resources than an organization can commit to. If that’s the case, then finding a knowledge management company that will offer the support necessary to accomplish this service is essential.

Don’t Let “Good Enough” Knowledge Management Negatively Affect Service Efficiency

It’s great that organizations are recognizing the important role knowledge management plays in excellent field service. However, as more and more companies invest money and time into knowledge management and creating knowledge bases, it’s important to avoid the pitfalls mentioned above. By doing so, companies can be sure they have a truly useful and effective tool that fully supports technicians while on site, driving efficiency, lowering service costs and creating happier customers.

Download our whitepaper to learn how to launch a knowledge management initiative and build a financial case for investing in a knowledge management solution.

Posted by / June 15, 2018 / Posted in Blog
Medical-Device-Companies

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!

Posted by / April 15, 2018 / Posted in Blog
Field-Service-Customers-Biggest-Complaints-Uncovered

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.

Posted by / April 5, 2018 / Posted in Blog