Master your assets to be Future Ready. Now.
- Posted on August 23, 2019
- Estimated reading time 5 minutes
The understated importance of assets
“I don’t know which customer has what equipment or where it’s located!” is a common issue I hear when I meet with Service and Field Service Managers of customers or new prospects. This is not just a small organization problem - large enterprises are embarrassed to admit this and would be terrified if their customers found out.
For manufacturers who provide service and after-market service providers, it’s all about the asset because that’s why they’re in business.
If you fall into this group, you know that by maintaining customer equipment you are constantly challenged to provide:
- Great uptime
- Superior customer support and satisfaction
- Best value compared to your competition, while helping customers maintain their own competitive edge
When it comes to customer/field service, the asset is the center of the universe. Too often, the focus is around creating, scheduling or optimizing Work Orders. In fact, many Field Service software providers have built products around that. It’s important, but nothing happens without the Asset. To know thy customer is to know thy customer’s assets!
The diagram below depicts the key ingredients to providing a complete Asset 360:
Warranty tracking – On multiple occasions, prospective customers have told me that field service applications and their implementation could be paid for multiple times over if they could track warranty information on their equipment. The customer always comes first, so the service provider takes it on the bottom line when they can’t track a warranty expiration. It’s also a lost revenue opportunity to renew or provide a service contract or agreement when that warranty expires.
Maintenance plans - We’ve seen an evolution in service … Reactive: Something breaks, go fix it. Proactive: We’ll service your MRI machine once/quarter to ensure it doesn’t break. Predictive: with IoT and machine learning, we can predict when something will break, based on history and a variety of other factors. Maintenance plans accomplish 3 main objectives:
- High customer satisfaction by providing asset uptime
- Additional revenue opportunities to sell flexible maintenance plans
- Flexible alternatives for a competitive edge.
Service contracts – Until about 15 years ago, service centers were viewed as cost centers. While the desire to make money from services and offerings was there, the tools to manage them often wasn’t. Today, tools are there, but not necessarily part of a field service application or integrated with ERP to provide visibility to detailed SLA’s, entitlements, or pricing. Flexible service contracts provide customers the protection that fits their budget and offer the provider additional revenue generating opportunities. Viewing your service center as a profit center is key.
Connected field service – A piece of equipment capturing operational data is not new. Large industrial pieces of equipment stored information in the 1960s and even earlier. Copy machines had counters in the 1980s storing numbers of copies that were made. The challenge is knowing what to do with that information and how to act upon it. Enter IoT and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things). Remotely fixing an asset or sending a tech on site before a critical issue occurs will improve customer satisfaction, provide a reason for service contract renewal, and keep competitors at bay. Combining the ability to capture information, analyze it, and use it to predict what may happen next, opens up a world of opportunities.
Parts logistics – “Parts is Parts!” Not so with field service. In my early years of field service, techs often received a bad rap (although sometimes rightly so) when it came to inventory management. They were referred to as “Silent Partners” when parts would disappear or if missing inventory showed up on eBay. Having reliable visibility to a tech’s trunk stock and what is used on a job is key to proper costing and invoicing. Reliable invoicing gets you paid quicker (I’ve seen DSO reduced from 79 days to 1!). But knowing your inventory is just part of the battle – you need knowledge of what parts are required, what parts make up that piece of equipment and the ability to quickly source it.
RMAs – It’s simple - you purchase a product, you have an issue and it’s still under warranty. You contact support and the service rep tells you to send it in for repair. Not always the case in service organizations. For many, this is typically a manual tracking process. Whether it’s a tech in the field bringing back a piece of equipment or a customer sending something in, understanding what is due in for repair is critical. It provides better equipment tracking, reduces service costs, and increases customer satisfaction.
Work orders – Often when people think about field service, it’s about the Work Order e.g. Standard Repair, Emergency, Install, Planned Maintenance, or a Depot Repair. Essentially any time an onsite visit is scheduled, it’s assigned some type of work order. But what if you can fix the issue before you send someone out? Studies have shown that a tech visit can range from $700- $1,200+ per truck roll. By providing superior customer service (knowledge/IoT/Remote Service), those costs can be drastically reduced without compromising your ability to highly service your customer and meet critical SLA’s. When you do need to send a tech, arming them with a complete Equipment 360 will go a long way to increasing First Time Fix Rate and customer satisfaction as well as maintaining that competitive edge.
Extended/Merged/Virtual Reality – the tools are here and slowly becoming mainstream. Products like Remote Assist (using a HoloLens or mobile device to remotely assist a tech) and Guides (using a HoloLens to guide a tech) by Microsoft are used to provide better customer and employee satisfaction while reducing operational costs.
Accelerate to future-ready field service now.
As shared above, there are many touch points to an asset. Knowing who owns it along with powerful visualization tools to provide location visibility can help you run a profitable service business, keep your customers happy and satisfied, and stay ahead of the competition.
Ready to get a better understanding of your customers’ assets and better serve them with a predictive, efficient future-ready field service operation? Reach out to Avanade’s Connected Field Service experts to start the conversation.