Category Archive: Blog Posts

The Next Normal: How can Service Orgs Succeed in a Time of Inflation, Labor Shortages, and a Workforce Skills Gap?

Service organizations have been battling constant change. COVID-19 continues to impact everything from supply chains to labor, and now the industry is contending with another challenge: economic uncertainty. Aquant’s 2023 Service Intelligence Benchmark Report analyzed how factors like inflation, a labor shortage, and a knowledge gap are impacting the service industry.

Take a look at this year’s data and highlights to learn more. 

Our analysis encompasses data from:

  • 113 organizations, including service divisions within OEMs and third-party service organizations across manufacturing, medical devices, capital equipment, HVAC, commercial appliances, and more
  • More than 16.2 million work orders
  • Nearly 125,000 technicians
  • Over $8.1 billion total in service costs
  • An average of 3.8 years of service data per company

This year, we learned:

  1. Service is picking up again. With a 5% increase in field events and a 3% increase in the number of technicians in the field, service is experiencing a post-pandemic uptick. Mean Time Between Events has also increased by 32%, indicating that orgs are utilizing remote and self-service solutions. First Time Fix Rates are even up 2.3% since last year. 
  2. But organizations are not safe from inflation’s impact. Even with a general uptick in service outcomes, rising prices are diminishing economic gains. Service costs shot up 7% in comparison to the previous year due to rising parts costs, supply chain shortages, and more. 
  3. Even with slightly-reduced costs between service heroes and challengers, the knowledge gap still affects orgs significantly. 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%
  4. Service organizations can’t control parts costs or inflation, but they can 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. 

So, is it possible to set your organization up for success?

The short answer? A resounding yes! 

In fact, companies that embrace data-backed approaches are ensuring a path to success—especially because these insights allow them to measure every part of their workforce’s performance. They are able to see the entirety of their business model, take stock of what’s working, and make adjustments where necessary to preserve costs. Successful organizations are able to leverage technology to make the right fixes the first time around, utilize the right parts for a fix (which keeps costs low!), and allocate their resources appropriately. If service organizations hesitate to make changes now, they are risking greater economic impact in the long term. 

Ready to understand your business on a much deeper level? Read Aquant’s 2023 Benchmark Report to get an understanding of the state of today’s service industry and how your organization stacks up in comparison.

Field Service Costs Rose Sharply in 2022 Despite Overall Service Improvements

  • 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. 

Gain Deeper Service Insights With These Three Data Entry Best Practices

Get the most out of your service data by using these three actionable steps to encourage accurate data entry and create a data-driven field service culture

Field service organizations can’t be truly data-driven without complete, high-quality data…but achieving that is not always a breeze. It’s a common challenge that many field service teams consistently face across industries.

The biggest obstacle to achieving high-quality data? Poor data entry practices.

In addition to overseeing service operations, field service leaders are now responsible for their team’s data entry strategies and processes. To help them, we’ve outlined three best practices that every service team should follow when entering and managing data. Here’s how service leaders can empower their teams to input the cleanest, most complete service information into their databases, ultimately resulting in stronger data analysis and improved service outcomes.

1. Prioritize free-form data entry over CRM dropdowns

Your employees’ notes and expertise are the most critical and useful data that you can collect. CRM dropdowns are a common data-entry tool because they can seemingly make the data-entry process easier. But, more often than not, these shortcuts lead to bad data and low-quality insights; they are limiting and can ruin an organization’s understanding of what is really happening. Dropdowns can be useful in some cases, but when it comes to symptoms, observations, and outcomes of a service event, encouraging your technicians to provide as much detail as possible will help in the long run.

Dropdowns also often create lazy behaviors. In a dropdown picklist, the two most common selections are almost always going to be the first option and “other”. Because of this, dropdowns are known to cause inaccurate data that lacks detail, leading to poor insights.

Encourage your technicians to enter an unlimited amount of free-form data (for example, detailed notes that include key observations about the job/service encounter, what they expected the issue was, which parts or processes were failing, what fix they put in place, any other challenges they faced). This is the most important data you can gather and it creates a much deeper level of understanding of what is happening in the field.

To get value out of these notes, consider implementing service intelligence tools that use ‘Service Language Processing’ to extract this detail and transform it into actionable outputs. The data scientists building and training these models are well-versed in the verbiage and terminology specific to the service industry, which further regulates the credibility and caliber of the insights an organization is able to derive.

2. Establish goals and standards for data entry 

Data entry often gets put on the back burner but it’s important your teams understand the bigger picture. Train your workforce and explain what’s expected of them as it relates to data entry. Leaders who can develop a sense of ownership of the data in their technicians will benefit significantly. Your technicians need to understand that they are responsible for the data they enter and if it’s not entered correctly it can have a negative impact on the greater organization.

One way you can do this is to create rules around what data needs to be entered at the call center/customer service level before they can dispatch. When entering data, call center reps, technicians and teams should understand:

  • What data field must be filled out for a ticket to be closed?
  • What type of detail is expected in each field?
  • Which team is responsible for filling this detail in?

Make data entry a part of your tech’s incentive plan. Determining incentives based on the data they input is an effective way to hold techs accountable and ensure they enter data to company standards.

3. Review the data together in formal qualitative analysis meetings

Leaders should carve out time to perform qualitative analyses on a weekly or monthly basis with their technicians. These meetings should include a review of 4-5 service events where the technician uses the data to drive the conversation and walk you through how things went. Be sure to keep an ear out for information they give you about the visit that isn’t reflected in the data and encourage the tech to add it to the notes.

You don’t want your workforce to lose sight in the value of entering detailed, accurate information into your database. Use these meetings to reinforce the value of clean data and to make sure data entry is being completed to a satisfactory level. Lastly, always make sure to give your technicians an opportunity to give you feedback on the process.

Improve the caliber of your data and level up your decision-making ability!

Service leaders are responsible for the quality of the data being entered into their system.

By following these best practices, they can create data-entry habits for their technicians that lead to richer insights. To learn more about how service language processing tools are helping field service organizations transform technician observations into actionable data, visit aquant.io

How to prevent “quiet-quitting” in the field service industry

Service organizations are already understaffed due to a labor shortage and a Baby Boomer retirement wave. “Quiet-quitting” could further impact workforce performance and the customer experience. With a little help from technology, service leaders can increase workforce engagement. Here’s how.

The philosophy of quiet quitting is not about leaving a job, but instead, doing exactly what the job requires, no more no less. It means no longer going above and beyond and withdrawing from the idea of “hustle culture” in an effort to find a better balance between life and work. 

Taking steps to set healthy boundaries at work is important—and something everybody should do to avoid burnout. However, “quiet quitting” culture is a step beyond, and is understandably worrying business leaders and managers across industries. There’s a difference between working to find a better work-life balance and being totally disengaged. A successful workforce is full of employees who are motivated, engaged, and self-driven because they find meaning and fulfillment in the work that they do. 

Experts argue that although doing less might feel good for employees in the short term, it could harm your career—and your company—in the long run. It can also cause conflicts between employees, as some employees will feel others aren’t carrying their weight. So how should field service leaders address quiet-quitting culture and what steps should they take to keep their workers engaged?

Equip your workforce with the technology they need to operate at their highest potential.

Help your technicians and teams work smarter, not harder. Employees need leaders and direct managers who offer them the necessary tools, resources, and technology that enables them to get their work done at their highest potential. When employees feel like they can get their job done more efficiently, they are more engaged in their work. Higher employee morale = increased productivity. 

AI-driven diagnostic tools like Aquant’s Intelligent Triage can help technicians get to the root of the problem faster and complete jobs without running into any hurdles. This kind of technology benefits all generations.  Techs with less seniority no longer need to lean so heavily on experienced techs for support to resolve a customer issue. Senior technicians can spend less time training younger generations on simple tasks and can spend more time helping them grow in more holistic ways. And even the most experienced workforce gets a boost in new or extremely complex machinery. Because the technology helps all levels of technicians solve the issue faster, they’re able to use that extra time in their day to focus on other areas of professional development. 

Business leaders need to be able to measure the performance of their workers

It’s difficult to know which workers are overperforming and which are underperforming unless you have the technology to analyze and measure their performance. Certain AI platforms are designed to objectively measure workforce performance so that leaders can identify training needs, see where employees excel, dig into areas that might be institutional or product failures versus employee issues, and even highlight the best candidates for mentors. 

Field service organizations are using Service Insights to measure their teams’ performance. A leader at one large med-device company described the software as “a scoreboard where you’re able to reflect the performance of your team in real dollars as well as efficiency.” And this kind of pinpointed intelligence is the best of both worlds for managers and employees who benefit from targeted training programs.

Employees are burnt out. They need resources that take work off their plate. 

Most industries continue to struggle with labor shortages and skills gaps. Leveraging the right AI-driven tools gives service organizations access to a wider candidate pool, letting them hire great people and train them on the technical aspects of the job. Tools like Service Intelligence combines the wisdom of the most skilled workforce with information like parts data or machine feedback and puts that information into the palm, or the phone, of every worker. Employees will face fewer struggles during their day and have the extra time and mental capacity to deliver exceptional customer service. New hires will feel more confident. This access to 24/7 information will help alleviate the burden and extra work that often rests on the shoulder of more experienced staff. 

All of these small improvements will help boost employee engagement, which is more critical now than ever before. Service leaders need to listen to their workers, understand where they might be falling short or why they’re disengaging, and offer them the tools they need in order to get their jobs done more efficiently. Employee disengagement is often a result of burnout so it’s critical that leaders get proactive before their employees hit a wall. AI is here to help your overworked technicians find the work-life balance they’re looking for. 

5 Strategies to Improve Service Outcomes in Capital Equipment

The future of service in the capital equipment and heavy machinery industry is rapidly evolving. Everyone – from executives to field service managers – is thinking about how to transform the way they deliver service. 

That’s in response to the many challenges impacting service delivery. Customers are demanding guaranteed uptime. A historical labor shortage in the skilled trades shows no sign of slowing. Supply chain disruptions have led to longer service cycles and increased pricing pressures. The skills gap in the workforce is growing, due in part to the increasing complexity of machinery and the aging labor market.

Let’s take a look at how savvy leaders are using technology like service intelligence to strengthen their business.

How today’s service challenges impact service delivery

Service leaders spend too much of their day putting out fires. They are managing uneven customer experiences, lower productivity, and higher costs. It’s hard to create a successful and profitable organization with so many moving parts.

Amid this market disruption, capital equipment organizations, and those that service them, are also working hard to implement transformation efforts. They are adopting digitization and data-driven processes to move towards outcome-based or servitization models and away from reactive break-fix work.

What is the future of service in capital equipment?

“Traditionally, dealers have operated their service organizations in reactive fashion, with equipment service triggered by customer requests,” says recent research by McKinsey & Company. “Going forward, dealers have opportunities to…help customers maximize productivity and efficiency by increasing equipment uptime. Sixty-four percent of dealers consider enabling this better customer service experience to be the top opportunity in the future of service.” 

Service executives, including the Director of Service at Konecranes, agree. They are assembling teams and implementing technology that turns data into meaningful insights. The information is critical in maximizing uptime, boosting service performance, and fostering better customer relationships. 

What is Service intelligence, and how will it help capital equipment organizations provide better customer experiences?

Service intelligence is the natural outgrowth of field service management software. With sophisticated artificial intelligence and data analytics, service organizations can make proactive, data-driven decisions. And furthermore, with insightful information, it’s possible to transform service from a cost center to a profit center. 

Organizations that provide the right service at the right time are positioned to maximize uptime and dramatically improve customer satisfaction. Here’s how:

  • Data from service interactions hold valuable insights into workforce performance, asset reliability, and customer experience
  • A service intelligence platform captures and makes sense of this data in plain language
  • Service Intelligence generates prescriptive insights, builds plans to optimize service delivery, and improves efficiency
  • These platforms will also identify cost drivers, training needs, and customer issues more effectively

Here are five ways service intelligence enables organizations to overcome service challenges and thrive in the new landscape.

1. Bridge the Skills Gap Across the Service Workforce

Baby Boomers are transitioning into retirement, and they’re taking much of their technical know-how and service best practices along with them. The labor shortage has made it extraordinarily difficult to hire enough people to fill the number of empty roles, and it’s also challenging to hire those who have the right technical skills.

Smart digital tools can capture institutional knowledge from your expert service workers and distribute that information across the entire workforce. That puts experts’ hard-earned knowledge into an intuitive interface that empowers the new and digitally-native workforce. In addition, it enables hiring managers to hire candidates based on the right fit or soft skills and train on specific technical skills. 

2. Identify Training Needs 

When service leaders have access to granular details, combined with big-picture context, they can create specialized training for every member of the team. 

Service intelligence platforms take into account all of the details surrounding a technician’s performance, including the customer, asset, number of visits, fixes employed, success rates, and more. Managers can review individual technician performance and performance as a group to identify where specific team members need a hand, which employees are the best candidates to act as mentors, and where to improve training programs overall.

3. Resolve Service Issues Faster

Equipment uptime is crucial for everyone’s success: capital equipment manufacturers, service teams, and customers who rely on the equipment for everything from construction projects to semiconductor manufacturing. Among the most critical factors in improving uptime is identifying the root cause of problems as quickly as possible. 

The previous model, which used outdated equipment manuals and static decision trees to help determine root cause analysis, isn’t working. Today’s data-driven solutions rely on historical service data, everything from CMS and parts databases to technician notes, is the most efficient route to success—and can get smarter and more accurate over time. 

4. Evolve from a Break/Fix Service Organization to a Predictive One

Fixing machinery only when it spontaneously breaks results in unplanned equipment downtime – and deeply dissatisfied customers whose business gets disrupted. In addition, reactive work makes it harder to plan staffing resources, especially when the best service pros are already overscheduled. 

Shifting from a reactive break/fix service approach to a proactive/predictive model offers customers and service teams vastly better cost control, increased equipment uptime, and superior customer experience. 

5. Enable Accurate Decision-Making Across the Entire Organization

Service intelligence seamlessly combines service data with workforce knowledge to create a more comprehensive view of your organization. With deeper insights, service leaders have a more accurate understanding of the workforce, customers, and assets.

Data presented in plain language can explain why top performers are able to make fixes so quickly at a lower cost. Conversely, it will detail why some team members struggle to repair specific equipment. In addition, it will highlight customers at risk of escalation –  and even alert the team when it’s time to make a proactive service visit.

Get a demo. See how Aquant’s Service Intelligence Platform provides service leaders across the capital equipment industry the ability to make proactive, data-driven decisions. 

Three reasons why an AI investment will help reduce service costs

Economists are predicting a global recession in 2023. How should companies prepare? One response is to cut costs across the board; scaling back on discretionary expenditures, reducing headcounts, or cutting digital transformation efforts. However, chief information officers said they are evaluating ways to ramp up some tech investments and reduce others as recession fears grow, as reported by WSJ. But how should companies decide which tech to pursue?

Executives and analysts told the WSJ that businesses see more value than ever in tech that will enhance the customer experience (CX). Artificial intelligence (AI) is one type of tech that will do that — and more. However, companies in the service sector, such as the field service industry, should ensure they are investing in the right AI technology for today’s challenges. 

That’s where Service Intelligence comes in. It’s AI developed specifically for service organizations — letting companies deploy the technology quickly (without the need for a team of data scientists), and empowering everyone in the organization to make more accurate decisions. This data-driven decision-making is the catalyst to enhance CX, improve profit margins, and drive revenue. 

Service intelligence enables organizations to understand and manage their business more deeply. It’s business intelligence but customized specifically for service organizations – using service data that has historically been “hidden.” Here are three reasons why field service organizations should invest in AI-powered tech like Service Intelligence during this period of economic uncertainty:

Better customer service = greater market share

A study of stock performance during the 2008 recession proved companies with higher quality customer experience had an even greater market share. Decision-makers should reconsider cutting costs that could negatively impact customer experience because companies with high-quality customer experience are more likely to withstand a recession than those that don’t. AI-powered tools that enhance CX will give businesses that edge. 

Service has changed and the Amazon’s of the world have heightened customer expectations about the speed at which service is expected to be delivered. Field service organizations that use AI to better understand their customers can strengthen customer engagement and improve retention. Those that embrace service intelligence will have the resources and information needed to operate at levels that go beyond customer expectations while reducing costs for both the customer and their business. 

Labor challenges are not going away

Field service organizations, in particular, face the challenge of an aging workforce and the subsequent loss of knowledge, resulting in a skills gap and a shortage of experienced workers to train the younger generations. Technology is required in order to solve these issues, and waiting until the economy improves is not an option. Service intelligence not only trains and upskills employees more quickly, but it can also optimize labor costs.

Hiring and onboarding the right people and training current employees when necessary is critical to maintaining adequate cash flow. It’s often more profitable to improve your current employees’ skills than it is to hire new employees. With service intelligence, you can track the performance of your workforce (i.e. who needs training on what piece of equipment). Over time, this will allow you to identify specific areas that should be addressed through ongoing field service training. When Sysmex added Service Intelligence into the ecosystem of their service efficiency tools, the combined toolset significantly reduced employee training time. Organizations who are able to shift resources away from training and instead focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience in the field see greater cost savings and better customer relationships.

Faster and more precise decision-making

Measuring workforce performance and customer satisfaction has historically been problematic, but there are now effective ways to gain more in-depth insights into your business using the service data your organization produces every day. It all starts with establishing baseline measurements, or snapshots of your service habits and outcomes as they stand. To form these measurements, you need to take a close look at your organization’s data – but nobody has the time to sift through a large pool of numbers to spot hidden patterns. 

With Service Intelligence, AI does the sifting and analyzing so that executives can easily make data-backed decisions that are aligned with their business goals, from specific field technician performance to machine usage and breakdown rates. This type of assessment can help leaders determine which practices to keep or improve on and, in turn, reduce overhead costs by enabling them to keep tabs on metrics that could potentially impact costs.

Service intelligence is the future of AI for service  

Not all AI is created equal. Service Intelligence understands your specific business, and highlights areas that need improvements. Alternatively, it will show you what’s working and why. It also delivers actionable recommendations based on your business priorities and customer needs. It then presents that information in a way that details where executives should look to make improvements and what areas they should focus on in order to cut down on costs.

As we enter into this period of economic uncertainty, take advantage of the opportunity to improve service while streamlining operations. When COVID hit, companies who invested in tech or were further along in their digital transformations, were more resilient and better situated to handle challenges. Any company that invests in AI that specifically helps improve customer experience, solve industry issues, and enhance their workforce, will be better positioned while their competitors are at risk of falling behind.

Learn how Aquant’s Service Intelligence will help your organization manage costs and improve service. Get a demo of Aquant’s Service Intelligence here.

Why Your Business Needs a Service Intelligence Platform

Discover what a service intelligence platform is, how it works, and how it can help improve efficiency and customer experience for service organizations of any size.

Should your field service and technical support teams use service intelligence platforms? Do you know how these platforms will improve your operation’s efficiency? Let’s talk about what service intelligence is and how using the right service intelligence platform creates high-quality, highly efficient service experiences.

Key Takeaways

  • Data generated from your service interactions hold valuable insights into your workforce performance, asset reliability, and customer experience
  • A service intelligence platform helps you capture and make sense of this data in plain language
  • These platforms help you generate prescriptive insights, build plans to optimize service delivery, and improve efficiency
  • You can use these platforms to identify cost drivers, training needs, and customer issues more effectively

What is service intelligence–and why is it important?

Any service interaction with your customers generates valuable information you can use to understand your business’s performance. These interactions (and the data they generate) are the building blocks of Service Intelligence and include:

  • Calls with a customer support team
  • On-site visits (and repeat visits) from a field service team
  • Reports of asset breakdowns 
  • Asset in need of preventative maintenance program 
  • Effectiveness of preventive maintenance activities
  • Purchase orders for assets and parts
  • Maintenance logs
  • Technician job notes
  • Technician domain knowledge

Service intelligence is about gathering, organizing, and extrapolating this information in order to identify problems and opportunities across the organization. It’s about helping managers objectively see how their team is performing, where specific assets are experiencing challenges, and whether a customer might be close to an escalation based on hard data.

The success of any service organization depends on delivering exceptional customer service in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The performance of your customer-facing talent is put under the magnifying glass when businesses are faced with challenging economic conditions. Managers who have easy access to holistic metrics that go beyond past trends will be able to  make decisions that will improve key areas of their business and the service their teams deliver.

What does a service intelligence platform do?

A service intelligence platform is a set of technologies that organizes and analyzes traditional service data and institutional knowledge from your highest-performing employees. In addition, it provides your management team with clear reports and analysis and gives your support team access to best practices during service visits. 

Service intelligence platforms are a natural evolution of field service management software. That’s because they go beyond traditional dashboards, like BI. Unlike reactive software, service intelligence help leaders see the root cause of issues and give them prescriptive and customized insights on how to address them at scale. These new platforms eliminate the need for data exports and pivot analysis. Instead, service intelligence concisely packages critical information to be delivered directly to decision-makers. 

Service intelligence platforms are made up of these components:

  • Workforce reporting that measures how well each of your technicians is performing in the field and provides guidance on what kind of training is needed
  • Asset reporting that identifies potential issues or engineering challenges with your products
  • Customer success reporting that identifies your performance relative to each customer and predicts escalations before they occur
  • Troubleshooting and triage tools that can be used on-site by any technician, providing every employee access to the collective knowledge of your most experienced technicians

How a service intelligence platform will improve operating efficiency 

Here are the major benefits of implementing a Service Intelligence Platform.

Identify training needs

Service intelligence platforms take into account all of the details surrounding a technician’s performance including the customer, asset, number of visits, fixes employed, success rates, and more. Reviewing individual technician performance and performance as a group helps managers identify where specific team members need a hand and where there are needs to improve training programs overall.

Upskill technicians with troubleshooting tools

Knowledge sharing and management are key pieces of an effective service intelligence platform. Service intelligence platforms contain intelligent triage and troubleshooting tools built from historical service data combined with the tribal knowledge of an organization’s most experienced subject matter experts. These tools upskill less senior technicians and bring up the average technician performance across the board when used properly.

Support engineering and product teams 

By analyzing how assets perform by customer and as a whole, product and engineering teams can identify challenges where components are failing or opportunities to make changes that eliminate downtime and improve operating efficiency.

Understand individual customer needs and the customer experience journey

Reviewing the hard data about customer interactions let’s service teams objectively look at customer experience. Predictive reporting based on the number of visits, success rate, time to resolution, and more will help you identify customers at a higher risk of looking for a new supplier or service provider.

Bonus: Make the case for preventative maintenance 

Understanding performance data across team members, assets, and customers to identify true costs. Understanding and presenting these costs backed by data helps service teams build the case for preventative maintenance contracts.

What is the difference between service intelligence (SI) and business intelligence (BI)?

A service intelligence platform is not the same as accessing BI dashboards. Standard dashboards that simply report KPIs like first time fix or cost per success, can’t guide you to look at top priorities or pinpoint the most critical business issue. 

Service intelligence goes beyond BI. It seamlessly combines all your service data with workforce knowledge to create a more comprehensive view of your organization. This means it understands your data and it understands your people. Want to know why your top performers are able to make fixes so quickly at a lower cost? Or why some team members struggle to repair specific equipment. Service intelligence explains this in plain language. BI dashboards can’t do that. 

With all of this information in one place, service leaders have a trusted source for data-driven decision-making. 

Service Intelligence from Aquant is ready for action

When you’re ready to deliver efficient, effective service experiences that turn your customers into your biggest promoters, get started with Aquant.

 

The Aquant Service Intelligence Platform has everything your service & support managers and technicians need to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and improve customer experience like never before. We lead the service intelligence space with an unmatched ability to mine free-form text from technicians’ notes to create deeper observations and solutions that can be put into action by service leaders.

Request a demo today. Learn how easily your service data can be turned into your greatest asset.

What First Time Fix Rate Can’t Tell You About Service Performance

First Time Fix Rate (FTFR) is a standard KPI among service teams, but relying on FTFR alone creates blindspots for service leaders.

Most service organizations cannot measure how the workforce skills gap impacts FTFR. In turn, they can’t gauge how low FTFR drives up service costs and negatively impacts customer satisfaction.

Instead of relying on hunches, Aquant went to the source—data from more than 16.2 million work orders to create the 2023 Service Intelligence Benchmark ReportHere are key takeaways illuminating why service leaders need to look beyond FTFR if they want to gain insights into their organization’s performance.

FTFR isn’t the best way to measure service success

Go beyond the basic stats, especially FTFR rates, for an accurate snapshot of true service performance and costs.  FTFR remains stagnant for all but a handful of top-performing companies. Even with traditional field management software, FTFR has not improved.

Additionally, FTFR  should never be measured in isolation. On average, a failed first visit leads to:

  • 2.75 additional visits
  • 13 additional days added to Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR)

What is the cost of FTFR failure?

From a cost and customer perspective, failure rates can be disastrous. Beyond the KPIs, service leaders need to factor in labor costs for additional truck rolls, additional parts costs, machine downtime, customer dissatisfaction, and all the other jobs that aren’t being resolved if technicians focus on repeat visits for every one in four jobs. 

FTFR cannot measure customer sentiment

That’s especially true if organizations don’t measure FTFR in at least 30-day windows.

Trying to understand customer satisfaction by relying on FTFR creates a customer experience gap. That’s the difference between what customers expect and what your organization delivers. 

Our analysis shows that companies measuring FTFR in 7-day or 14-day windows are setting the stage for a wide experience gap, leading to frustrating customer experiences. Measuring FTFR in less than 30-day windows misses many repeat visits that are all related to the same root cause. Your records may show that an asset was serviced twice within a month, and both of those visits were successfully fixed on the first visit. Your customer likely disagrees.

How FTFR reporting creates service blindspots

How you measure FTFR impacts metrics. Instead of defining FTFR in arbitrary time increments (7 days, 14 days, or 21 days), think about it in terms of the natural service cycle. Our research shows that measuring in 30-day windows strips out false-positive FTFR. 

This is demonstrated in the example above.

  • If your FTFR is similar when measured at 7 days and 30 days, you have a small gap.
  • If your FTFR has a wide variation (usually a high rate at 7 days and a low rate at 30 days), you have a large gap.

If you have a large gap, your team is likely focused on hitting their numbers instead of focusing on great customer experiences.

The knowledge gap is increasing service costs

In 2023, service organizations faced even larger hiring challenges than in the past. This has left the industry with tens of thousands of unfilled jobs and caused service costs to increase.

  • The bottom 20% of the workforce (service challengers) costs organizations 67% more than the top quarter. 
  • The top 20% of the workforce (service heroes) has an 80% FTFR. The bottom 20% of the workforce (service challengers) has 61% FTFR.

To learn more, download the full 2023 Service Intelligence Benchmark Report. See KPI benchmarks for 110+ leading service organizations, access tips on methods to better analyze FTFR and other key KPIs, and drive meaningful change across your service organization.

3 Ways Service Data Will Transform Your Business

Looking to kickstart–and succeed in–your org’s digital transformation journey? 

First, you need to understand what’s working (and not working) in your organization. Only then can you plan where to allot resources, and what areas of the business need a small modification or a big change.

And to find those answers, look at your data across the organization. 

When leveraged correctly, your data holds a ton of information that may not be visible at first glance. And with the right dataset, a business can unlock insights that can power engineering, sales, finance, supply chains, and more – ultimately helping you focus on the areas and processes that need adjusting.

Without a factual foundation, how do you set priorities for your organization? And without established priorities, how can you begin to move forward in your service journey? No matter which way you spin it, without baseline data, you are fumbling around in the dark. Here are three ways that service data can impact your business – for the better.

  1. Keep stakeholders informed. For an organization to run smoothly, all departments need to work in tandem. And when it comes to information about your assets, any data that you can provide your team is invaluable. For example, your Service team needs insights to run the business, Engineering depends on product feedback, Marketing utilizes insights to inform messaging and campaigns, and Sales benefits from intel on customer satisfaction. Gleaning the right type of insights from your data ensures that all teams have the information they need to do their job well and ultimately create an optimal customer experience.
  2. Innovate, manage, and improve all parts of your organization – from customers to internal departments to KPIs. Harvesting data is the first step in building strategic partnerships with both your customers and within your company. Your data can function as a “map” of your organization – honing in on higher-than-average costs, inefficiencies, equipment problems, and more. But above all, your data can also be used to help you solve those challenges. The good news? “Luckily, most people already have plenty of data – from operator records to teams that perform quality checks – and just need to learn how to leverage it,” noted Sasha Ilyukhin, the SVP of Customer Service Operations at Tetra Pak, during a Service Intel Podcast episode
  3. Identify and resolve service issues – before they spiral out of control. Effortless interactions are the key to winning hearts and wallets, and customers expect a certain level of service. Organizations need a way to see their entire service landscape, hit KPIs, spot concerning patterns, and deliver wow! moments that make them stand out. Your data can help identify customers that aren’t experiencing the great service you may think you’re providing – and helps you spot and mitigate concerning trends before the customer calls out of anger. This keeps customers happy, reducing the likelihood that they’d switch to another service provider. “Loyalty doesn’t just happen – it’s driven by a series of actions and behaviors, and it is not by chance or coincidence,” says Taj Mian of Domestic General in a recent Warranty Intel Podcast episode. “Loyalty is about providing a lot more than just basic service for the consumers – and it can reap incredible results if you get it right.”

Ready to unlock your data’s insights?

It’s pretty simple — if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Discover how your company data looks in Service Insights reports. Get in touch now at [email protected].