Cost containment used to be the buzzword for field service. Do the best job you can with the least possible expense while keeping the customer happy. Not an easy task, yet managers in every industry imaginable – from construction equipment to mining rigs, MRI to ultrasound machines, industrial robots to ATMs – have worked diligently to minimize costs associated with aftermarket maintenance, repair and support, even if it didn’t fix the real field service problem.
Luckily, aftermarket field service is changing, undergoing a fundamental shift in how it’s contributing to the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM’s) bottom line. As it comes of age, aftermarket field service is bringing with it some hefty strategic incentives that companies should not ignore. According to the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) “More and more companies are realizing that field agents, with their face-to-face interactions with customers, can have a major impact on customer satisfaction and incremental revenue.”
Field service and customer satisfaction – that makes sense. Field service has long enjoyed a well-established connection to customers and thus impacts the level of customer satisfaction a company enjoys, especially after the sale.
But can field service go beyond creating customer satisfaction to actually generating revenue. Savvy aftermarket service organizations recognize the untapped potential of an OEM – installed customer base as an asset capable of generating a profitable revenue stream. They see the strategic opportunity and are transitioning away from the outdated concept of field service as a cost center – the necessary evil. They are embracing a more progressive approach to field service as a profit (and potential growth) center. Aftermarket service operations – technicians, departments, and managers – now represent the promise of emergent revenue.
A promise of revenue isn’t as tangible as revenue itself, however. As the Blumberg Advisory Group points out, “In order to operate as an Aftermarket Service as a profit center, a company must be able to generate income.” One way many are accomplishing that is through the adaptation of technology, including mobile technology. Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks research firm, notes that “seventy percent of field technicians carry at least one mobile device for field work.”
In addition to tool belts, service technicians are now wielding a whole new set of high-tech tools, making them more effective, efficient and ultimately more profitable. Tucked inside service tool belts are mobile devices loaded with knowledge management software, remote and embedded diagnostics and other smart technologies for spare parts & logistics, like InService EPC. InService EPC is a tool that reduces support costs, reduces catalog costs and increases parts revenue making the generation of profit a more attainable goal.
In service work, managers know that time is money. InService EPC provides the most accurate and up-to-date parts and service information at the point of need so field service technicians are more self-sufficient. They don’t waste call center support time and are able to expertly perform service work quickly with confidence.
From an operational perspective, being able to go digital and manage updates in-house can save even more field service expenses. InService EPC reduces printing and distribution costs. The ability to create updates in-house reduces the costly outsourcing expense associated with updating, printing (electronic or hardcopy) and distributing volumes or CDs of catalog and service information.
Where InService EPC really shines is in the revenue generation part of the equation. It makes parts ordering easy through deep integration with a company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP). With InService EPC, techs can order directly from their laptop or tablet, with highly accurate product and service information right at their fingertips. This generates more parts orders and reduces mis-orders. In fact, it works to eliminate all of the 7 deadly sins of field service operations.
While some service organizations cling to old school cost containment methodology, aftermarket service innovators are arming crews with tools that turn opportunity to profit.