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. 

Combating the Challenge of an Aging Workforce

We’re all getting older…

Something we’re hearing time and again from customers is the challenge of an aging workforce.

I spoke to an attendee at Field Service USA last month who told me how at his company, all the complex technical questions went to a handful of people who had decades of know-how in their head. Unfortunately, these people will all be retiring soon.

His story probably sounds familiar to you. Every company is grappling with this same question: How do you extract the information from their heads and into the hands of less-experienced, junior colleagues?

Yes, the Baby Boomers are retiring and there’s nothing we can do about it. But you can prepare for the changes this will have on your service organization and surf this wave successfully.

Develop your plan now.

The worst thing you can do is ignore the situation.

Get key people in your organization talking about this. What knowledge does our organization hold in manuals and other sources? And what resides only in the heads of our ageing workforce? Who are our aging Knowledge Gurus and what are the common questions they get asked?

Can older engineers help you extract their knowledge through workshops, mentoring and coaching programs? Is there a way to turn their knowledge into how-to videos? In fact, according to Forrester Research, 75% of employees would prefer to watch a video rather than read an email or web page.

A danger with these plans, of course, is if the younger engineer leaves you’re back to square one. Millennials are twice as likely to leave a job after two years and they’re only half as likely to be employed by the same company after 10 years.

This is why diversifying your field service workforce with new hires that include mature workers is a great idea.

One of the most important steps you can take right now is starting a project to collate all your knowledge from various departments and put it in one place. That might simply be on a wiki or shared drive for now or it could be something like AnswersAnywhere.

But by just starting the first steps, you’re already ahead of many!

Want to learn more about how you can address the talent gap and surf the silver tsunami? 

The Take-Away from Field Service Palm Springs? It Doesn’t Have to be Complicated!

Field Service USA is over and we’ve waved good-bye to gorgeous Palm Springs (and its 100° Fahrenheit heat) for another year. As always, the event proved to be chock-full of great discussions, insightful sessions, eye-opening innovations… and flamingos of course!

Knowledge Management emerged as a big theme this year, both on the expo floor and during the sessions. It’s no wonder – 62% of executives attending Field Service said they planned on investing in knowledge management within the next 24 months!

Jonathan Ralphs, CEO of AnswersAnywhere, joined Microsoft’s Clayton Fernandez, Johnson Control’s Pat Foley, Tokyo Electron’s Ed McMurray during Day One of Field Service to discuss the latest tools and best processes for effective knowledge management.

What Does it Take to Make Knowledge Management Work? Quite a lot!

One of the first questions brought up on the panel was “What exactly is involved to make knowledge management work?” The unanimous answers seemed to be: Quite a lot!

As Jonathan explained, knowledge management requires a combination of people, processes and technology in order to be successful.  It’s too easy to underestimate what’s involved and over-promise on results. In fact, most KM projects undertaken by corporations fail because of the complexity and volume of work that might be involved.

The panelists agreed that a KM project is more than just choosing platforms and technologies; it’s about understanding the required outcomes and working back from that to determine how to achieve them with whom.

A member from the audience asked who typically leads the knowledge management initiative within an organization. Pat and Ed both observed that usually the responsibility is assigned to one individual; however, it’s typically given on top of other responsibilities, making it difficult to prioritize knowledge management.

This may not always be the case though. As organizations begin to recognize the importance of knowledge management, Jonathan predicted that it wouldn’t be long until the position of Chief Knowledge Officer becomes as commonplace within corporations as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer.

Where in the World Do You Start?

Another important discussion on the panel was where someone should start with their KM strategy. Jonathan stressed that implementing knowledge management doesn’t have to be complicated, “Like any new project, break it down into its essential parts and ensure that stakeholders are involved from the very beginning. Don’t become too ambitious too soon; better to have lower expectations and build out one piece well rather than going all-out straight away.”

Where do I start? is a question that we get all the time at AnswersAnywhere. Knowledge management can feel like an overwhelming task that often leaves people wondering where to begin. During the panel, Jonathan advised starting with the major pain points:

  • Identify which groups of products are taking up more time and costing more to support
  • Measure these product support costs (against the average).
  • Start with the field service end and work back to identify which steps of the product support process is causing the bottleneck.
  • Determine what is required to free this bottleneck and together with stakeholders and field engineers, discuss what the priorities need to be
  • Agree to a pilot including some or all of the ‘difficult’ group of products and agree a realistic plan to deliver this initial phase
  • Deliver the pilot with training and support. Measure the outcomes and compare to the starting point.  If successful, these will be important to work up the business plan to take to the next stage.

 

Jonathan concluded his advice with this: “Let me give you an example. Recently I had a discussion with a service company that wanted to reduce their call outs to fix their customers broken-down cars. We implemented a pilot in the call center with 20 basic questions for the agents to ask the customer as a form of basic triage. Used 20 agents for the trial – a cross-section including those with NO car experience so they couldn’t use their own ‘expertise’ – and gave them very basic training. They ended up reducing call-outs by 75%!”

What’s Next for Knowledge Management?

Wrapping up the session, the panel discussed where they saw knowledge management going in the future. The panelists agreed they saw a blending of the lines between the different technologies and systems that gives a seamless experience without toggling from system to system.  For example, creating a ‘hybrid’ KM where the service tech has a 360 degree view of the customer, the product and all knowledge relating to it, all in one place through one interface.

Jonathan also added that knowledge management should be always available, even offline where feasible, and present the latest ‘approved’ knowledge so the field service tech can close the job faster and accurately.

As for final thoughts on knowledge management, Jonathan concluded that he hoped the take away from the session would be one thing: “It doesn’t have to be complicated!”

Want to learn more about implementing a Knowledge Management initiative? Let’s talk!

BUNN® Deploys AnswersAnywhere™ to Drive Customer Satisfaction and Shorten Field Service Calls

Infomill, Inc., developers of the AnswersAnywhere™ Knowledge-as-a-Service, today announced that BUNN® – global leader in commercial beverage equipment – has deployed an AnswersAnywhere product knowledge base to boost customer satisfaction and field service efficiency.

AnswersAnywhere achieves quick success by creating, deploying and updating innovative mobilized knowledge bases for technical support representatives and field service technicians.

BUNN has been a leading, global dispensed beverage equipment manufacturer since 1957. Privately-held and family-owned, the company has a reputation for outstanding post-purchase support. Their customers include foodservice providers worldwide.

Tim Spencer, BUNN’s Senior VP and GM for Service Operations, said providing their field service technicians with direct access to an accurate, up-to-date product knowledge base is critical to customer satisfaction.

“Every minute one of BUNN’s beverage machines are offline for servicing, our customer is losing revenue. With the AnswersAnywhere Android and Apple iOS mobile apps, BUNN’s field service technicians have the latest installation, servicing and parts knowledge in the palm of their hands. Armed with the right knowledge, the technician can get the equipment back in service and producing revenue faster,” said Spencer.

Field service efficiency is also a key driver, said Spencer: “Researching installation, servicing and parts knowledge eats up valuable time during service calls. If our field service technicians save an average of 10 minutes per customer visit due to AnswersAnywhere, that’s over 13 hours saved per tech per month. As a result, we can support more customers with the same number of field service technicians and shorten the downtime for our customers.”

Spencer said he considered buying a knowledge management software package and creating the knowledge base with in-house resources. But he soon realized the complexity, focus and time required to develop and keep updated a knowledge base with hundreds of products and thousands of parts.

“Knowledge management is a puzzle and the pieces must fit perfectly to be successful. By outsourcing KM to the AnswersAnywhere knowledge experts, BUNN’s mobile knowledge base was up and running in about 90 days. With the initial knowledge base delivered to our technicians’ mobile phones and tablets, the AnswersAnywhere team assumes responsibility for keeping the knowledge base up-to-date for the duration of our contract,” he said.

Increasing the challenge, BUNN also wanted a KM solution that integrated with their ServiceMax field service management solution. “AnswersAnywhere features full bi-directional integration with our ServiceMax field service management software. BUNN’s technicians can research parts and products without navigating away from their work order,” said Spencer.

Bo Wandell, Vice President of Infomill, Inc., said AnswersAnywhere is a new outsourced approach to knowledge management. He said, “Knowledge management has a checkered reputation because so many internally launched projects fail. Even large manufactures rarely have the experience, technology or focus required to create and deliver knowledge over the long haul. With AnswersAnywhere, we tore apart the old way of implementing a KM strategy and developed a new outsourced approach that achieves quick success and delivers a multi-year knowledge management roadmap.”

Wandell said that BUNN, like many large manufacturing companies, had an enormous wealth of technical knowledge that was unintentionally locked up in different formats and corporate silos. He said: “The AnswersAnywhere Knowledge-as-a-Service is purpose built to unlock corporate silos. We create a single source of truth focused on the specific knowledge needs of a manufacture’s technical support representatives and field service technicians.”

About BUNN®:

Since 1957, Bunn-O-Matic Corporation (BUNN®) has been at the forefront of dispensed beverage equipment manufacturers. Grown through five generations of family entrepreneurship, BUNN has become a global partner you can count on for reliable beverage equipment and outstanding post-purchase support wherever customers are served. The BUNN core values of honesty, integrity, and courtesy have created a global network of loyal commercial and home customers who are served by the company’s brand promise, A Partner You Can Count On™. – See more at: http://www.bunn.com/company/about-us.

About Infomill:

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.

About AnswersAnywhere™:

AnswersAnywhere is a Knowledge-as-a-Service created by Infomill. Over 50,000 technical support representatives and field service technicians access a knowledge base on the AnswersAnywhere platform every month to quickly and accurately install, service and repair equipment. In addition to BUNN, companies using the AnswersAnywhere platform include Baxi, Centrica and Ferguson. See more at: www.answersanywhere.com.

Jonathan-Ralphs

CEO and Founder to Speak at Field Service USA 2019

Jonathan Ralphs, CEO and Founder of Infomill, the creators behind AnswersAnywhere, will be speaking at Field Service USA in Palm Springs, CA.

Jonathan will join industry leaders from Johnson Controls and Tokyo Electron on the panel “Exploring the Latest Tools and Best Processes for Effective Knowledge Management“. The panel will examine the latest technologies to support the gathering and maintaining of knowledge and discuss:

  • What most often goes wrong and how can these pitfalls be avoided?
  • How can next generation tech like augmented reality and artificial intelligence aid in knowledge management?
  • How can organizations ensure they have the right mobile tools to have this information at their techs’ fingertips?
Don’t miss this opportunity to gain insight and advice from some of the top leaders in knowledge management!

3:25pm on Wednesday, April 24th | “Exploring the Latest Tools and Best Processes for Effective Knowledge Management” | Field Service USA 2019 | Palm Springs, CA

About Jonathan Ralphs: Jonathan Ralphs is founder and CEO of Infomill, the company behind AnswersAnywhere Knowledge-as-a-Service.  He has worked in the field of information technology reinforcing aftermarket support systems for over 30 years. Transitioning from his initial background in systems design to strategic planning has given Jonathan a rounded view of business needs to drive efficiency, productivity and growth. He has been fortunate to work with ground-breaking companies in the US, Europe and Asia in a range of markets including aerospace, HVAC, power, automotive, defense, mass transit, materials handling, shipping and others. Jonathan’s skills have been utilized in client consulting studies and steering the growth of AnswersAnywhere, which is now recognized as one of the world’s leading knowledge enablement solutions in the Field Service Management (FSM) sector.

About AnswersAnywhere:  AnswersAnywhere is a Knowledge-as-a-Service created by Infomill, Inc. It delivers installation and servicing knowledge to field service technicians when and where they need it by unlocking corporate silos and providing field service technicians with a “Single Source of Truth” containing up-to-date mobilized knowledge.  Putting an AnswersAnywhere into the hands (literally) of a technician increases first-time fix rates and appointments per day while decreasing average time spent onsite and incorrect part orders. Over 50,000 field technicians worldwide depend on AnswersAnywhere mobilized product knowledge bases.

Speed to Knowledge: The secret to knowledge management in the MedTech industry

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Field Service Medical Device in San Diego, CA. The event provided an endless supply of in-depth conversations regarding the pains that Med-Tech companies were facing in the field. One topic that came up again and again was the need for engineers to have better access to technical information while on site.

One service director I spoke to was lamenting the amount of time his field service engineers spent searching for the correct piece of information. He made a great comment that probably rings true for a lot of medical device field service organizations: if you put an experienced field service engineer in a room with a broken piece of equipment, most likely they would eventually get that broken machine up and running again. However, he continued, that’s not how field service works.

Efficiency is the Name of the Game

The attendee makes an excellent point that I’m sure we can all agree with: When it comes to MedTech field service, efficiency is the name of the game… and efficiency doesn’t happen without access to knowledge.

Did you know that field service organizations incur $1.68M of unnecessary costs per year due to lack of access to knowledge? It’s easy to read this statistic and think the solution is simply to give your engineers access to knowledge. However, simply giving them all the knowledge they need isn’t enough to deliver efficient service.

Many organizations recognize that their engineers need more efficient access to knowledge. However, too many focus on the publishing and creating of new knowledge. While the creation of new knowledge certainly has its place within an organization, this is definitely not the most effective approach.

In KMWorld’s 2016-17 Knowledge Management Survey, 56% of corporate executives said the main challenge to developing and delivering a knowledge base is the fact that knowledge sharing is not integrated into their staff’s daily work regime and the required information is locked up in enterprise silos. Couple this with the fact that it takes 12 days for field service organizations to create just one new knowledge base article and you can see why creating new knowledge is not the efficient solution it might first appear to be!

If Creating New Knowledge Isn’t the Answer, then What Is?

A much-more efficient approach for field service organizations intent on getting knowledge to their engineers is to focus on the delivery of existing knowledge which already has been created and validated by internal departments.

Virtually every corporation has an enormous amount of valuable explicit knowledge locked up in departmental silos in the form of paper based documents, PDFs, product and installation manuals, service notices, training materials, part lists, images, 3-D renderings, exploded diagrams and databases.

In short, why recreate the wheel when all the information that your engineers need to do their job efficiently already exists?

Of course, it simply isn’t enough for field service engineers to have access to the information needed to fix a piece of equipment. They also need to be able to quickly search and locate the information they need while on site, know that that information is up-to-date and compliant with current regulations, and have access to it no matter what their location’s connectivity is like. After all, when you’re in the basement of a hospital trying to get a critical piece of medical equipment up and running, the last thing you should have to worry about is how good your wireless connection is.

By working with a Knowledge Management company that specializes in taking the wealth of knowledge that exists within a corporation and transforming it into a single knowledge base that is mobile, current and easily searchable, organizations can bypass the exhausting and time-consuming task of creating a knowledge base from scratch.

Or, as our knowledge experts at AnswersAnywhere like to call it: Speed to knowledge!