Author Archives: Micaela Mcpadden

  1. How to Shift Left: Your Six-Step Framework

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    Shorten the service lifecycle, improve customer relationships, and reduce service costs. Here’s your six-step framework to shift your customer experience left. 

    The concept of shifting left sounds great but how can you, as a service leader, put this concept into reality? Is there a way to solve a greater percentage of field events remotely? Can more remote interactions be resolved through self-service? Is it possible to prevent problems before they even occur? 

    It all starts by partnering with an AI engine that gives you meaningful and accurate insight into your customers and workforce. We broke it down for you in six easy steps. 

    1. Collect data – Gather service data and understand how data flows through the customer journey. Understand how many self-service interactions, remote/call center interactions, and field interactions your team services on a regular basis. This will help set a baseline for identifying the opportunity areas in your business. 
      • Tip: Normalize data sanitation. Ensure that “clean” data can be easily accessed and analyzed to inform more accurate decision-making. You can do this by setting standards and best practices around your data entry process. 
    2. Understand the service issue – The critical component to shifting left is to get deeper into understanding the types of problems that are being faced in all facets of the service lifecycle.  An example of this would be to understand what percent of service issues reported are related to a pump leaking issue. 
      • Tip: This is where Service Intelligence can help you. Service Intelligence can gather and clean your structured service data (historical data like machine logs, field work orders, customer support tickets, parts, and technician notes) and unstructured data (tribal knowledge from your top-performing workers) and distill data into symptoms and solutions. 
    3. Extract critical insights from your subject matter experts – Unlike AI applications in other areas of the business, service is unique in that just because something occurs the most frequently in the data, that doesn’t mean it’s the best result.  More often than not, the best way to solve a problem is stored in the minds of your best experts. In fact, according to Aquant’s internal data, about 30% of the solutions leveraged by Aquant customers are not identified in historical service data, they are obtained from the data provided by experts. This emphasizes how critical incorporating the human element into your AI engine is. 
      • Tip: Don’t rely on historical data alone. Use the knowledge of your best employees to help identity which issues and solutions can be resolved remotely or via self-service.
    4. Conduct analysis to identify the areas of opportunity – Every business is different, and identifying the area of highest impact whether it’s in the field, remote, or self-service is important to figure out where to focus first.
      • Tip: It’s common for organizations to look at metrics in silos, but looking at all of your metrics side-by-side can give you the best view into your workforce’s performance.
    5. Attack the opportunity by operationalizing AI in your business – Leverage data-driven insights from the analysis to use different tools like AI triage and troubleshooting applications and predictive and performance analytics to begin affecting change in the organization.
      • Tip: Enable teams and optimize user performance by training users and sharing best practices on ways to take full advantage of the tool.  Empowering your team to get the maximum benefit from the tool is the most important part of onboarding any new technology.
    6. Create a clear feedback loop to continuously improve – Ensure that you are able to measure the service interactions moving forward to clearly determine whether a positive impact is being made in the metric you are focusing on (ie. first-time-fix, resolution cost, etc)
      • Tip: Create a detailed plan using this newly uncovered data to start making strategic decisions. Once you have critical information about every aspect of your service organization, you can make data-based decisions that bridge the skills gap, improve customer experiences, and drive growth across your organization.

    Time’s up. Why You Need to Shift Left Now 

    The ability to accurately solve service issues quickly while using fewer resources is critical if organizations are to stay competitive. Only those who are able to navigate a rapidly-evolving service landscape, which includes changes to customer demands, workforce shortages, and economic factors, will survive. 

    Customer expectations are rising significantly. Not only do customers demand a more immediate response, they expect the opportunity to self-serve and fix simple issues themselves without having to escalate an issue. According to the Salesforce State of Service report, 48% of customers have switched brands for better customer service, and 94% say good customer service makes them more likely to make another purchase. Organizations that understand this and take the initiative to respond accordingly will lead the market. 

    The talent shortage and widening skills gap is further exacerbating service issues. More-tenured technicians are retiring faster than their replacements can enter the workforce—so the challenge is to upskill less-experienced workers quickly. On average, bottom performers cost organizations 67% more than top performers. In addition, the variance between top- and bottom-ranking companies has increased. The bottom line? Companies need to pay attention to the skills gap more than ever. If everyone had the knowledge and skills to perform like the top 20% of the workforce, service costs would be reduced by 21%. Teams that look at the bigger picture and approach service cases more strategically can address these issues.

    The engagement crisis is just as bad. Data from the Service Council’s Voice of the Field Service Engineer survey reveals that 65% of Gen Z, 67% of Gen Y, and 54% of Gen X are either not sure they’re going to be or won’t be field engineers for the duration of their career, 40% of which are leaving the role within the next three years. Simply put, most teams won’t have enough resources to resolve a case via dispatch, therefore phone resolutions or self-service may be an organization’s only option. 

    Lastly, economic uncertainty and rising costs are affecting every part of service. Successful teams know that these external factors are out of their control but they’re adjusting their operations and investing in the right technology to combat these issues. The very best organizations are taking it one step further by addressing the pressures to prioritize ESG initiatives. They understand that customers care about corporate social responsibility. Not only are they shifting left to avoid a costly dispatch, but they’re shifting left to reduce carbon emissions resulting from a truck roll. 

    Are you ready to shift left? Request a demo today

  2. What Shifting Left Means For Service Organizations

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    Shorten the service lifecycle, improve customer relationships, and reduce service costs.

    Over the last decade, the evolution of service has resulted in a widening gap between rising customer expectations and growing workforce challenges. Accordingly, organizations have had to get creative and look at new service delivery methods to meet customer demand. But, the introduction of multiple channels to serve has created more complex service experiences with a lack of resources to address these challenges. 

    Traditionally, different channels (ie call center, field, self-service) operated under various objectives that resulted in a disjointed service experience for the customer. One common example we see in service is how call center agents are measured on average handle time. This metric is not the problem in itself, but what if you found out that spending an extra 10% of the time on the phone could result in a reduction of 10% in truck rolls, subsequently improving profit margins? Wouldn’t most organizations want that? But because service is measured in silos, companies fail to create the best and most efficient customer experience.     

    Service is becoming more strategic than ever, and companies are now evolving to look at the customer journey holistically across multiple channels. With the advancements in data and AI-powered technology, organizations now have the opportunity to strategically identify the most cost-effective and efficient way to approach a service issue. It all starts with shifting your customer experience left. But what does that mean?

    Shifting Left: What Does it Mean?

    Simply put, the concept of shift left is about resolving as many service issues as quickly and as efficiently as possible.  Sounds like a no-brainer right? The idea is to use data to strategically identify the areas in your business where you can make a quantifiable impact that improves your bottom line. Whether that means reducing escalations and improving first-time-fix, identifying truck rolls that could’ve been resolved remotely, or even turning simple calls into a self-service experience, shifting left is about taking every service interaction and pushing it to the left as much as possible. 

    Today, 1 in 3 service calls results in a truck roll (i.e. the most expensive way of servicing customers – costs can be $2500+). Of those, 1 in 4 results in multiple visits. This is not sustainable, especially given the current economic climate. Instead of resorting to a costly dispatch/truck roll every time, service teams are better off resolving the issue through remote resolution, virtual assistance, self-service, etc. 

    For example, could you have a virtual agent (like a bot) point the customer to the right knowledge base article or some self-solve instruction to be able to fix it? Or, even better, before the product breaks down, could you proactively alert the customer to interact with the device, machine, or whatever product that they’re working with, and provide step-by-step instructions to the customer in the most intuitive manner so that they could avoid downtime altogether? 

    The objective behind the “shift left approach” is to shift the resolution closer and closer to the end customer so that they don’t even need to reach into the enterprise. By shifting even further to the left, customers can gain access to critical information quickly without needing to escalate an issue. And, as highly skilled technicians make their expertise and insight more available to less experienced colleagues, the less experienced staff can gain organizational knowledge and begin sharing it with their customers. In doing so, an entire organization raises itself to a higher place intellectually. Every time you shift left, there is a quantifiable business benefit: you save money and you increase customer satisfaction.

    This blog is part of a two-part series. Stay tuned for next week’s blog on how to shift left and why service organizations need to start implementing this strategy today.


  3. Aquant Earns Placement on Built In’s Esteemed 2023 Best Places To Work List

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    Built In announced that Aquant was honored in its 2023 Best Places To Work Awards. The annual awards program includes companies of all sizes, from startups to those in the enterprise, and honors both remote-first employers as well as companies in large tech markets across the U.S. 

    “We’re thrilled to be recognized as one of the best places to work in the country,” says Shahar Chen, CEO and Co-Founder of Aquant. “I’m constantly inspired by our team’s focus, energy, and momentum. Delivering meaningful impact for our customers begins with our people reaching their highest potential. We’re proud to have fostered an inclusive, transparent, and collaborative environment that emphasizes the importance of well-being and personal development. We look forward to welcoming many new voices in 2023 and beyond.”

    “At Aquant, teamwork is our competitive advantage,” says Assaf Melochna, President and Co-Founder of Aquant. “We encourage each and every one of our colleagues to have a beginner’s mind and to have the courage to innovate. This mindset allows us to provide exceptional and long-term value for our clients and motivates colleagues across teams to work together to achieve great things.” 

    Built In determines the winners of Best Places to Work based on an algorithm, using company data about compensation and benefits. To reflect the benefits candidates are searching for more frequently on Built In, the program also weighs criteria like remote and flexible work opportunities, programs for DEI and other people-first cultural offerings.  

    “It’s my honor to congratulate this year’s Best Places to Work winners,” says Sheridan Orr, Chief Marketing Officer, Built In. “These exemplary companies understand their people are their most valuable asset, and they’ve stepped up to meet the modern professional’s new expectations, including the desire to work for companies that deliver purpose, growth and inclusion. These winners set the stage for a human-centered future of work, and we can’t wait to see that future unfold.”  

  4. Building a More Inclusive Service Culture: Lessons from National Instruments’ Global Field Services Director

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    Throughout the service industry, standards for customer experience are higher than ever. On each episode of Aquant’s Service Intel Podcast, we sit down with leaders that are raising the bar and creating incredible experiences for their customers. These top names in the industry have all agreed to share what they’ve learned about navigating today’s service landscape so our listeners can not only get inspired but put their own bar-raising service plans into action. 

    Recently, we sat down with Anthony Bacak: Director of Global Field Services at National Instruments. Anthony’s story as a service leader is personal. He shares his experience raising a daughter with down syndrome and how she inspired him to help build an even more inclusive culture at National Instruments. Today, his company goes above and beyond to account for employees’ unique needs with diverse physical and mental abilities — from inclusion resource groups to understanding what each team member needs to succeed in their role. 

    Here are just a few of the many great takeaways from our conversation with Anthony. 

    Sometimes You Need to Take Change Into Your Own Hands

    A couple of years back, National Instruments was working to improve its company-wide DEI efforts. Raising a daughter with down syndrome and seeing firsthand what she was capable of, Anthony wanted to ensure his company’s initiatives accounted for team members with different abilities.

    So he took it upon himself to speak up and help build an even more comprehensive approach to DEI. He discovered that another employee had brought up the same topic a couple of weeks before he did. Together, they formed National Instruments’ first “inclusion resource groups”. If you’re hesitant to speak up and spark change at your company, Anthony’s experience is an excellent reminder that you’re likely not the only one that feels the way you do about an issue. 

    Inclusion Starts with the Interview Process

    Imagine you’re interviewing someone that has a stutter. Do you automatically come to conclusions about their job performance — even though you’d be impressed by the interview otherwise? 

    Or maybe you’re interviewing someone with a vision impairment and they ask you for help reading something during the interview. Anthony says it’s important to educate team members that this is not a sign of weakness and no one should be ruled out of the interview process because they need a bit of extra support or communicate differently. It’s so important to stay focused on what they can bring to your team. 

    Anthony has prioritized education and open communication about what it means to have a different ability so employees can more easily be attentive to it. Will people make mistakes as they learn to approach disabilities differently? Of course. And that’s ok, he says. The most important thing is leading with empathy and forgiving people when they say the wrong things. It’s an ongoing learning process. 

    Disabilities Aren’t (Only) What You Think They Are

    At National Instruments, inclusion resource groups aren’t limited to the disabilities we can see. Anthony wanted to challenge how people define disabilities and create spaces for team members with mental illness, migraines, dyslexia and other largely invisible disabilities. 

    He shares how his own experience with migraines expanded his understanding of what disability looks like. It’s important to understand that a team member with migraines isn’t the same person they normally are when they have one. And that sometimes a migraine can last for weeks. Accommodating them so they can thrive in their role is so important. While this is just one example, it applies across the board when it comes to invisible disabilities. 

    Sometimes the Smallest Adjustments Make the Biggest Difference 

    Prioritizing what each employee needs to successfully navigate their disability and their role at National Instruments is often simpler than most would expect. In the case of migraines, it might be using a different light bulb in the office. Anthony shares how the wrong kind can set off a multi-day migraine. 

    For someone who is dyslexic, fully justified text can be complicated to read. Of course, it isn’t done intentionally by the sender, but once someone is educated about this, that little change can be dramatic for a dyslexic coworker. 

    Small changes will lead to a thriving team – across all abilities. We have a tendency to brush these things under the rug and “tough it out” says Anthony. But no one should have to do that. 

    What’s Comfortable for You Might Not Work for Someone Else

    Anthony shared the importance of understanding each person’s boundaries and comfort zones. Imagine you have a team member with social anxiety. For them, it’s difficult to get up every morning and face a team of 20 or 30 people at the office, but they do it anyway. And then you schedule a happy hour or holiday party and they decline. 

    This doesn’t mean someone isn’t interested in being part of the team. What’s fun for you might be exhausting for them after a long, social week. While it isn’t easy, not jumping to conclusions because of the activities someone chooses to opt out of is so important. 

    Listen to the full episode for more of our conversation with Anthony. And subscribe to the Service Intel podcast so you don’t miss any of our upcoming conversations with service industry leaders. 

  5. Why LifeScan Records 100% of Customer Service Calls — And “Listens” to All of Them

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    On each episode of Aquant’s Service Intel Podcast, we sit down with leaders that are raising the bar and creating incredible experiences for their customers. These top names in the industry have all agreed to share what they’ve learned about navigating today’s service landscape so our listeners can not only get inspired, but put their own bar-raising service plans into action. 

    Ehab Goldstein of LifeScan joined us on a recent episode to discuss how we can all better use AI to be proactive with call data. He serves as Global VP of Strategy and Competitive Insights and Head of Customer Service at the medical device company and says there’s so much untapped potential hiding in customer service call recordings. Ehab shares how his own team uses AI to improve compliance at scale, support market research and more. 

    Read on for some key takeaways from our conversation. 

    Collecting Data Isn’t The Same as Understanding that Data

    It’s common practice to record calls for compliance reasons. But collecting data from customer service calls isn’t the same as understanding that data and leveraging it to make key improvements to your service org. 

    It’s no secret that we need data to support decision making and many companies already pay to access databases to understand and act on industry trends. But, says Ehab, what if you treated call recordings as market research, too? What if you saw an unexpected result from a campaign and used call data to understand what might’ve gone wrong instead of sending a bunch of people to conduct customer interviews over the phone or face-to-face? These are the kind of things Ehab thinks about at LifeScan. It’s a perspective shift that’s come with great results. 

    Listen at Scale — And in Real-Time

    Of course, listening to all of those call recordings would be impossible. From a compliance perspective, says Ehab, a quality manager is required to listen to three to five calls per agent to ensure they’re following protocol. But LifeScan gets around 20,000 to 30,000 calls a month, so three to five calls per agent is a drop in the bucket. 

    The company was sitting on a treasure trove of data detailing what customers are doing and what they’re saying about LifeScan’s products, messaging, service, and overall brand awareness in the market — country by country and region by region. So they turned to AI to transcribe recordings into text and analyze it effectively (and quickly), providing insights and helping the company improve in significant ways.

    Leveraging AI doesn’t just help LifeScan improve after customer service calls are completed. Ehab and his team are also thinking about how it can help agents do a better job in real-time. For example, it helps agents adapt quickly based on feedback and change their approach on the very next call they have — instead of waiting until they’ve had a scheduled review with their supervisor. 

    Better Understand How Customers Actually Feel — And Make Clear Improvements

    Sometimes, there are disparities between tickets submitted from the field and what customers are actually saying about your products and services. It’s a traditional approach to look at service records to understand customer satisfaction, but these rarely tell the whole story. 

    When Ehab’s team started leveraging insights from call data, they also looked at the automated customer survey that was currently set up for after each call. It was the usual set of questions related to net promoter score: effort level, satisfaction level, and first-call resolution. So he worked to improve the survey by asking more poignant questions — especially those that clearly separate service satisfaction from product satisfaction. 

    Of course, updating the survey also gave greater accuracy into the customers that had legitimate reasons for providing a low score. A lot of it surrounded product and warranty, but a portion was also about the service itself. Being clear on this information allowed Ehab to act on lower scores with detailed agent feedback and training and more efficiently course-correct anything that needed to be improved.

    Right now, call monitoring is happening on 100 percent of service calls at LifeScan, with AI analyzing each one and reporting on intents and sentiments. To hear more about how AI is being used at LifeScan, listen to our full conversation with Ehab. And subscribe to the Service Intel podcast so you don’t miss any of our upcoming conversations with service industry leaders.

  6. Selling Service: Inside Philips’ Unconventional Team Structure

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    Standards for customer experience are higher than ever. On each episode of Aquant’s Service Intel Podcast, we sit down with leaders that are raising the bar and creating incredible experiences for their customers. These top names in the industry have all agreed to share what they’ve learned about navigating today’s service landscape so our listeners can not only get inspired, but put their own bar-raising service plans into action. 

    Recently, we had a great conversation with Peter Lee, Senior Manager of Service Sales and Marketing at Philips. When the medical device manufacturer went through a couple of acquisitions, the experience shifted Peter’s perspective on the most effective approach to sales and service. He noticed that the acquired companies primarily used their field service engineers as a service sales channel — on top of their core roles. Seeing a better way, his team worked to shift away from a model where field service engineers sell service. Instead, they focused on one where a dedicated sales rep prioritizes driving service business. 

    Here are just a few of many great takeaways from our conversation with Peter. 

    Think Differently About Roles and Responsibilities

    As far back as the 1990s, the service technicians at Philips had also doubled as dedicated salespeople. But following the multiple acquisitions, Peter and his team decided to shift the model: a transition from field service engineers selling service to an approach where a dedicated inside sales rep drove the service business. 

    Of course, having a dedicated sales rep focused on driving the service business requires a different approach to structuring teams than many of us are used to. While face-to-face interactions are still important for these inside sales reps, they also do a lot of back-office work such as preparing quotes and helping with pricing. And, if they need additional help with this work, they turn to equipment salespeople, rather than field service engineers. This structure allows technicians to focus on delivering great service, further enabling Philips’ value proposition. 

    It also provides growth opportunities that support the company’s recruiting efforts. Often, a team member will begin in one of these service sales roles and transition over time to selling capital equipment. And, it avoids a common conflict of interest for engineers: fixing something for a customer, but also wanting to sell something during the same visit. Having a dedicated team for service sales avoids that altogether. 

    Focus on Selling Service Contracts Alongside the Initial Purchase

    Every customer is going to need a repair at some point. And every customer is going to need to upgrade eventually, too. Because of this, Philips lets customers pay for service upfront as part of their capital expenditure or operating budget. Peter has found that this is the most effective way to sell service, despite what we might hear about customers not wanting to pay for a problem before it arises. 

    At Philips, sales reps are trained to emphasize the value of investing in a service contract up-front — like a customer never having to spend the time to issue a PO and schedule a service call if a system goes down and the ripple effects this has on doctors and patients. Investing in repairs up-front can also minimize unexpected bills, especially for devices that have high-priced parts. 

    Focus on Obsolescence at the Point of Sale, Too

    Many Philips customers purchase systems over a period of time. For example, a hospital network is not going to buy 20 or 30 ultrasounds all at once. Instead, they might buy 10 this year, seven next year, and eight the following year. That results in the same systems, but different versions. 

    So Philips has a technology obsolescence program to ensure that all systems are going to perform at the same level and entire fleets are standardized. This makes training easier, too, since everything has the same look and feel, workflow, and features. And of course, if they’ve invested in this up-front, the customer doesn’t have to hit the bank again to pay for upgrades.

    Create a Service Partnership with the Customer

    Many of Philips’ customers have highly skilled engineers that service a lot of their hospital equipment. Some of that equipment might be simple to maintain, but others are more complex such as x-rays and MRIs. 

    Based on in-house teams and their different capabilities, Philips focuses on service offers that benefit the customer, but also still bring a benefit to them. For example, hospital engineers may take the first call and resolve the issues they can. While some issues might still require a field service engineer from Philips, this reduces the number of times it happens and saves the customer money.

    Know That Team Changes Like this Take Time

    Peter acknowledged that implementing a different approach to driving service business takes time. It’s important to have the basic building blocks in place before focusing on building out different programs. 

    You want to make sure you have a good maintenance service program and are delivering on an SLS. But once you do, it’s great to look at opportunities to grow your business outside the traditional “break and fix” approach. There’s so much that customers will appreciate in terms of additional programs and additional features. Ultimately, all of those programs and features ensure they’ll benefit through the whole lifecycle of a system. And that leads to greater customer loyalty and a greater likelihood of future purchases.

    Listen to the full episode for more of our conversation with Peter. And subscribe to the Service Intel podcast so you don’t miss any of our upcoming conversations with service industry leaders. Service Intel podcast can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever you listen to podcasts!

  7. New Survey Reveals Top 5 Challenges for Field Service Leaders in 2023

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    Finding and retaining talent with the right technical, organizational, and people skills has never been more difficult. This is a challenge across most businesses but it’s hitting field service and other trade jobs particularly hard right now.

    We surveyed 100 field service leaders to tell us where they’re experiencing the most difficulty in their day-to-day. The data revealed that hiring, retaining, and motivating workers is the most pressing topic.

    So how do service leaders solve this? First and foremost, understand your workforce and their needs. While competitive pay is a top priority, workers also want to feel supported by their employer, and feeling supported means having access to information and other resources so that techs of all skill levels can perform at optimum potential, without burning out. 

    The secret to employee retention? Knowledge retention.

    The best way to foster a talented, motivated service team is to invest in technology that offers the best knowledge-retention tools and professional support. Tools, like service intelligence, that share knowledge across an organization are the cornerstone of a successful service team. Job hopping is far more common now than it was 20 years ago, however, younger generations will tend to stay at companies that provide them with the technology, tools, and training to expand their skill set and successfully complete more jobs in less time. 

    Technicians equipped with this kind of tech require less support from their more seasoned counterparts, which not only boosts company productivity but helps improve the confidence and overall morale of the individual. 

    Rodger Smelcer, Executive Partner at United Services Technology has seen a positive impact across teams after investing in technology. “After equipping our workforce with intelligent technologies, we saw an uptick in employee morale, productivity, and retention, which has led to an overall improvement in customer satisfaction,” he noted.

    While hiring, retaining, and motivating workers has been a top challenge for a while, the survey shows that service leaders are also facing additional pain points. The following are ranked in order from most challenging to least:

    32% of respondents reported upskilling technicians & designing training programs as the most difficult: Ironically, attracting, retaining, and motivating workers will naturally become easier for leaders if they prioritize upskilling and training their existing workforce. Professional development is among the top priorities for Millennials and Gen Z. When asked why they were dissatisfied with a job or planned to quit a position after less than two years, lack of training and professional development ranked third for both younger generations, just behind pay and a lack of advancement, according to research by Deloitte.

    Tip: On-the-job mentoring is an effective way to address these challenges. However, labor shortages, the retiring workforce, and burnout among seasoned workers are getting in the way of that. Service teams should adopt knowledge retention and diagnostics tools, like service intelligence, along with other digital tools that let them learn as they go and share their findings with colleagues.

    27% of respondents reported pulling and analyzing data to understand organizational performance as the most difficult: When leveraged correctly, a company’s data holds a ton of insights into how to address challenges, but it requires the right analysis to reach a conclusion. 

    Tip: Use technology that sources, organizes, and analyzes both traditional service data and institutional knowledge from its highest-performing employees. This offers entire organizations—from executives to technicians—access to custom reports, analyses, and insights that can help them understand their business and improve how they operate and deliver service.  

    25% of respondents reported identifying the areas with the greatest opportunity to improve efficiency/cut costs as the most difficult: Service leaders are still struggling to pinpoint problem areas and devise strategic solutions to decrease or even increase spending. This is likely due to the fact that they are using outdated analytics dashboards to help them get to the root of the problem.

    Tip: Service teams need technology and data built to understand the way their business operates. AI platforms that use a Service Language Processing engine as opposed to traditional off-the-shelf Natural Language Processing (NLP) are able to not only identify problem areas but will also generate data-backed insights that leaders can use to streamline their business. While NLP uses machine learning to uncover valuable insights like sentiment, Service Language Processing goes a step further by learning a company’s unique service language and mining the symptoms and behavior of the organization’s employees and customers

    16% of respondents reported avoiding customer escalations as the most difficult: Demand for higher expectations of service is growing. Microsoft found that 54% of customers have higher expectations for customer service today compared to one year ago.  For companies to excel, they need to close the gap between customer expectations, and the actual customer experience.

    Tip: Get to know your customers! Innovative service teams are going beyond traditional business intelligence tools. Instead, they’re looking at AI-powered dashboards to analyze customer data and generate predictive analytics that helps them better understand customer behavior and satisfaction so that they can get ahead of an issue before it becomes a problem. 

    Learn how to turn these challenges into opportunities. Request a demo today.

  8. Achieving Work-Life Balance in the Fast-Paced Service Industry: Practical Lessons for Leaders

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    On each episode of Aquant’s Service Intel Podcast, we sit down with leaders that are raising the bar and creating incredible experiences for their customers. These top names in the industry have all agreed to share what they’ve learned about navigating today’s service landscape so our listeners can not only get inspired, but put their own bar-raising service plans into action. 

    Recently, we spoke with Lacey Gigante, Director of Post-Market Surveillance at Integra Life Sciences. Work/life balance is something we all think about. But for Lacey, who’s worked in the highly-regulated and faced-paced healthcare space the entirety of her career, balance has always been hard to achieve. Along the way, though, Lacey figured out how to make it possible. And she shared so much of what she’s learned with our podcast listeners. 

    Read on for some highlights from our interview with Lacey. 

    Work/Life Balance Starts with Leadership

    Leaders have to set an example for their team, said Lacey. At Integra, that means talking about balance often. One personal example Lacey shared: She makes it a point to set boundaries and not answer calls or respond to emails on weekends so she can focus on time with her kids. Her team members know this, and they know that it isn’t expected of them, either. 

    Promoting balance also requires intentional leadership. Lacey shared, “if you’re totally scattered and feeling pulled in every direction, something needs to be reassessed”. In her case, this means doing what she calls “connecting vertically” with herself before starting work and focusing completely on her family. That way, she’s grounded when the work day starts and ready for all of the things that pull her in different directions “horizontally” throughout the day. 

    It’s Okay to Be a Work In Progress

    Lacey works with a lot of high-achievers — herself included. It’s so easy to feel like you always have to be on, and it takes practice to adopt a different mentality. It’s easy to be watching TV at night and to check your phone in between commercials or get distracted by it while you’re watching a movie. Before going to bed, it’s so tempting to grab your phone and read things for a while before falling asleep. 

    These days, she puts her phone on airplane mode at night and places it out of reach so she needs to get out of bed to turn the alarm off in the morning. But that wasn’t always the case. Lacey used to scroll through emails as soon as she woke up. Now, she does a five-minute meditation in the mornings while her kids are still sleeping. Then she makes her coffee and focuses on centering herself before the day starts. With young kids, she usually only has 15 minutes to do this, but even that short amount of time creates a morning routine that helps set her up for success — and helps set her team up for success as a result. 

    Rethink Other People’s Expectations

    For team members that are used to always being available, there’s often a fear of setting boundaries. What if someone looks at them negatively if they don’t respond at all hours or on weekends? Lacey shared some great advice about managing team members that feel this way.

    Often, they’re worried that someone will be disappointed or they’ll get into trouble for not responding quickly enough. So Lacey helps them understand why they have this fear. Then she works to reassure them that she doesn’t expect anyone to always be on. Together, they’ll ttalk through it and work on a better boundary.

    Building this foundation 1:1 also makes it easier to set boundaries when other departments and leads have a different mindset and different expectations around availability. 

    Prioritize Building Trust with Your Team

    When there’s a morale issue or problems with company culture or micromanaging, it’s often because there isn’t a strong focus on employees, Lacey told us. When it’s all about the task and not about the person performing the task, people don’t feel connected to their jobs. That’s when mistakes are more likely to happen.

    From a people perspective and from a business perspective, it’s so important to put team members first and promote work/life balance. At Integra, where operators are on the frontlines, inspecting products before they go out the door and making sure everything is perfect for patients, having an environment where employees feel disconnected can have serious consequences. While it’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of work and forget about work/life balance, prioritizing it can have a far-reaching positive impact that leads to a better department and better culture company overall. 

    Listen to the full episode for more of our conversation with Lacey. And subscribe to the Service Intel podcast so you don’t miss any of our upcoming conversations with service industry leaders.

  9. Field Service Costs Rose Sharply in 2022 Despite Overall Service Improvements

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    • While key performance indicators improved across service teams, average costs for field service rose 7% in 2022—keeping up with the pace of inflation.
    • First Time Fix Rate (FTFR) has improved by 2.34%, but all the positive benefits that are typically associated with an increase in FTFR have been lost due to inflation.
    • On average, bottom-performers of service organizations cost 67% more than top-performers, indicating that the skills gap is a major factor in rising costs—in addition to inflation. 
    • If every technician had the knowledge and skills to perform like the top 20% of the workforce, service costs would be reduced by 21%.

    Despite an overall improvement in performance across service organizations, the average cost for field service rose 7% in 2022, according to Aquant’s 2023 Service Intelligence Benchmark report. Service leaders are grappling with the realities of a looming recession while continuing to deal with issues that arose from the pandemic. This includes the surge in parts costs due to supply chain shortages, rising labor costs, and a steadily increasing skills gap caused by the retirement of experienced technicians who are leaving before a new wave of younger, equally-knowledgeable workers can replace them. 

    While organizations can’t control an imminent recession or make themselves immune to its effects, what leaders can control is their response and set their businesses up for success amidst an economic shift. The service leaders who invest in the right tools to manage their workforce’s performance now will positively impact the business long term. Alternatively, businesses that don’t invest in technology will slowly fall out of the competitive set.

    To report on these findings, Aquant gathered data from 113 organizations, including service divisions within original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and third-party service organizations across manufacturing, medical devices, capital equipment, HVAC, commercial appliances, and more. This data consists of information from more than 16.2 million work orders and input from nearly 125,000 technicians. The report sought to analyze the service landscape, focusing on key challenges within the industry and the success and failures of companies trying to adapt to the new normal. The report discovered four key findings, including:

    Top-performing organizations are improving. Lower-performing organizations are facing more challenges.

    Top-performing organizations are combating the challenges of inflation by narrowing the skills gap, while lower-performing organizations have a widening gap in workforce performance. Top-performing orgs have a 16% difference in cost per resolution between top-performing workers and bottom-performers, down from 24% last year. Lower-ranking organizations have a 164% difference in cost per resolution between top-performers and bottom-performers, significantly up from 104% since last year.

    Why are the good getting better and bottom-performing organizations getting worse? Anecdotally, from speaking with analysts, clients, and other service experts, the general consensus is that lower-performing organizations have not invested in the tools, resources, or people to help them keep pace with the top-performing organizations. 

    “Service organizations must invest in the right technology now,” said Edwin Pahk, VP of Growth at Aquant.“Organizations that don’t invest in the right tools to monitor and properly train their workforce will not be around in five years due to the rapidly increasing cost of service. Bad service mixed with lower-performing employees costs more than good service with higher-performing employees.”

    The skills gap is expensive

    In 2022, service organizations still faced hiring challenges, leaving the industry with tens of thousands of unfilled jobs. Some reports estimate there will be an industry-wide shortage of three million skilled trade workers in the next five years. 

    This lack of skilled workers translates to increased costs. On average, an organization’s lowest-performing employees cost 67% more than the top-performing employees, considering less-skilled workers are more likely to order unnecessary parts and take longer to reach a resolution. 

    The report found that upskilling average-performing employees closer to top performers will reduce service costs by 13%. But, if every employee had the knowledge and skills to perform like the top 20% of the workforce, service costs would be reduced by 21%.

    “Companies with healthy field service operational practices can improve their metrics over time because they’re measuring progress in a helpful way,” said Sidney Lara, Aquant’s Service Principal. “They are also using the data to inform necessary investments in people, processes, and technology that can solve service issues. If organizations hesitate to make changes now, they risk greater economic impact in the long term.”

    First Time Fix Rate does not tell the same story it used to

    For many years the sole KPI that helped organizations determine if they were successful was their FTFR rate. In 2023, however, FTFR is no longer telling the same story. 

    The benchmark data reflects that while FTFR has improved slightly (2.34%), all the positive benefits that are typically associated with an increase in FTFR have been lost due to inflation. 

    Companies who have long relied on an increase in FTFR to help their bottom line are no longer seeing the same benefits as they used to, prior to 2020. Now they need the technology in place to tell them where to cut back to make up for inflation’s skyrocketing effects on service costs.

    Successful organizations are investing in the right people, processes, and technology 

    Service organizations can’t control parts costs. But they can and should focus on areas within their control, like managing their workforce’s performance. With the correct tools under their belt, organizations can prioritize:

    • Closing the skills gap by hiring new techs and getting them ramped up faster. 
    • Reducing parts shotgunning by determining the best and most cost-effective part for the fix.
    • Solving equipment failures on the first visit—as opposed to making quick, short-term fixes that address symptoms but not the root cause.
    • Adopting a laser-focused approach to spending by reallocating resources and cutting costs where necessary.