Consumer expectations have shifted to almost unrecognizable levels, catalyzed by innovative tech companies like Amazon, Lyft and Netflix. Previously acceptable levels of customer service are no longer good enough. Customers now expect real-time support and answers to complex questions at the ready, at a minimum.
For service companies, the transition can be felt across operations, and mandates from customers have pushed large capital equipment manufacturers in the medical, construction and HVAC industries into uncomfortable positions.
From sales to service personnel to executives who are determining the core principals of how to design, promote and manufacture offerings, change abounds. Gone are the days when capital equipment purchases operated on 10–15-year replacement cycles and customers took ownership of their assets from the moment money changed hands. Today, customers want to focus on running their business and expect access to manufacturer to set up, maintain, fix and consult on an ongoing basis for the duration of the product lifecycle.
The Internet of Things (IoT) represents the true saving grace of service today and beyond. A recent report by Aberdeen found that manufacturers far outpace other industries in their adoption and leveraging of the benefits of IoT. The increased connectivity of devices and richness of available data enables them to maximize operational efficiencies in a number of ways. Rather than a binary “broken” or “working” message, they can see whether a seasoned technician needs to be dispatched to a site for a major repair, whether a courier can deliver a part for the customer to easily replace themselves, or whether any failure can be addressed remotely.
This shift from reactive to predictive maintenance reduces costs for both the service provider and the customer by preventing downtime.
Some manufacturers have made the necessary changes to position themselves to provide more value-focused services and ensure increased profitability and optimal operation. For example, the world’s largest manufacturer and servicer of financial self-services equipment experiences very demanding service level agreements (SLAs) from its customers. The organizations it serves typically expect a five- to six-hour resolve time once a piece of equipment is reported down—and even faster during peak business hours. When managing that expectation across 10 million service tickets per year, automation is critical to maintaining a high standard of service.
In the last year, the company’s use of a field service management (FSM) solution has dramatically increased reliability and response time across its global operations. Automated scheduling ensures that the technician with the appropriate skills is sent to service the machinery in the quickest time possible, equipped with all relevant instructions and service history. The company’s ability to respond to customer calls within two to three minutes and arrive with access to every piece of vital data increases the customer’s confidence that their downtime costs will be minimal. Bottom line: satisfied customers.
Like all manufacturers, this company realizes that visibility and transparency are the keys to great customer relationships, and FSM solutions have played a critical role helping it retain legacy customers and attract new ones.
More and more, an organization’s decision to adopt new technology defines its position in the market. Leveraging the enhanced connectivity of IoT is imperative.
The standard bearers for great customer experiences are increasingly innovative companies and applications that ostensibly don’t have a service component at all. The top companies across all industries have turned customer data into incredible recommendation engines that keep these customers coming back and spending more.
The sooner today’s manufacturers embrace this, the more successful they will be.