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The 5 Most Actionable Field Service Reports of 2022 (With Interactive Examples!)

Not having enough data is problematic. But swimming in data without actionable reports isn’t ideal, either. 

Service leaders and managers have no shortage of reports and dashboards. The challenging part is turning those dashboards into field service reports that drive action and clearly communicate high-impact priorities. That way, they can focus on tasks that keep their customers happy and their workforce focused. 

To help, we’re sharing five interactive and actionable field service reports below. We’re also showing you exactly how to turn those reports into your secret weapon for improving efficiency. 

Here’s what we’ll cover: 

  1. Customer Risk Score 
  2. Common Failures
  3. Workforce Analysis
  4. Industry Benchmarks Report
  5. Bonus! Automated Executive Summary Emails

Read on to level up.

Customer Risk Score Report

Why it’s actionable 

The best time to stop customer escalations? Before they begin. 

A Customer Risk Score report captures activities and costs that may lead to unhappy customers. When used strategically, it can help you prevent escalations, improve contract margins, and create visibility and transparency into uptime and overall performance. 

Customer Risk Score reporting combines First Time Fix rates, cost per success, mean time to resolution, mean time between events, and the number of assets in the field to immediately highlight problem areas.

How to use the Customer Risk Score report

We recommend reviewing customer risk score reporting once per week to stay on top of potential escalations and take action to get customers back on track. Over time, you’ll be able to create a systematic approach to selecting the customers you check in on each week. 

We also recommend scheduling a weekly meeting with service teams to review the report, schedule calls with customers that are at risk of escalations, and document all feedback.

Share this report with…

Members of your customer success, sales, and field ops teams so they can take necessary actions quickly. We recommend sharing it with your leadership and finance teams as well to understand potential impacts on your contract renewal pipeline.

 

Common Failures Report

Why it’s actionable 

A common failures report shows you the most frequent customer issues that arise, sorted by product type. It also highlights which service technicians, teams, and regions are driving the highest costs when these failures need to be repaired.

This report lets service leaders apply Pareto principles to focus on the top issues impacting uptime so they can hone in on ways to reduce cost variability in solving them. This report will almost always identify your most impactful training opportunities. 

How to use the Common Failures report

Improve margins, customer retention, total cost of ownership, and reduce warranty costs by taking an intentional approach to this report.

We recommend reviewing the top failures, then sorting them by teams and individuals. From here, you can identify the scope of the issue, create a training plan, and present it alongside the report to drive buy-in across your team and with management. 

Share it with…

Regional field service managers and customer success teams to understand likely causes for issues in the field. Quality assurance and R&D should also see this report to understand where they may need to prioritize product improvements.

 

Workforce Analysis Reports

Why it’s actionable 

This is your go-to report to understand exactly how well your team is performing in the field. It details major KPI indicators by technician and displays variability for each. 

Use it to sort individual technicians and teams by their KPIs, including workforce performance index, first-time fix, cost per success, mean time to resolution, and mean time between events. Then, view training needs, which can be sorted by the greatest opportunity to improve. 

How to use the Workforce Analysis report

Based on specific KPI observations from this report, sort your technicians and teams by each KPI to identify weak areas and prioritize the most impactful training opportunities.

These reports surface trainable instances like parts shotgunning, customer escalations or losses that are directly tied to tech performance, margin erosion at the tech level, and brand tarnish. 

Share it with…

Team leaders and regional managers so they can identify the technicians that need the most support.

 

Benchmarks Report

Why it’s actionable 

If you want to understand how you’re performing in the market, this is the report you need. Industry benchmarks help you understand what “best-in-class” looks like so you can set goals with your team and put effort into the areas that are most important to helping you improve.

Using this data, you can set goals at the organizational and team levels that are specific, measurable, and attainable. 

How to use the Benchmarks Report

Use this report to identify your company’s “North Star Metrics” — ones that will lead to breakthrough performance. Then, put training plans into place at the KPI level to avoid complacency and work towards continued improvements, quarter after quarter and year after year. 

Share it with… 

Leadership to show high-level performance, managers to help them understand their teams’ position in the market, and customers to show your company’s stand-out service performance. Click here to download the 2022 Field Service Benchmarks Report.

 

Executive Summary

Why it’s actionable 

An Executive Summary is delivered directly to your inbox each week and helps create a habit of regularly reviewing performance data. It surfaces top priorities and provides you with clear opportunities by potential impact so you can avoid emotion-driven decision-making. 

How to use the Executive Summary 

Use it to encourage action and accountability. Managers and directors should use their personalized recommendations to set priorities for the coming week. They can review opportunities that present the greatest improvements to efficiency and cost.

As improvements are made, this report serves as proof that countermeasures were effective. If improvements are not made, the report will stay the same. 

Share it with… 

Directors and managers to help them drive organizational alignment so everyone is moving in the same direction. 

 

The Next Step

The right reports can take you from “too much data” to “just the right insights.” By making strategic use of the reports above, you’ll be well on your way to driving meaningful improvements — no data science or IT expertise required. 

Service Intelligence Platforms like Aquant’s make it easy for service leaders and their teams to know which actions to take next. Sign up for a demo of our Service Intelligence Platform today to start turning your data into answers. 

How To Improve Your Field Service Management Software

What is Field Service Management?

Every day in a field service organization is busy – whether it’s scheduling sales meetings or inspecting and repairing equipment or managing the employee experience. That’s why it’s critical to have a field service management system to track, organize, and streamline the many moving pieces. This system will ultimately become the central location that manages the entire operation.

The goal of field service management is to empower teams to deliver the best service that they can – ultimately making it a memorable customer interaction. Field service management usually entails dispatching workers or contractors to a work site, where the teams are responsible for installing, maintaining, or repairing equipment, systems, and other assets.

Field service management can be found across a wide variety of industries – essentially any industry that has service technicians or engineers in the field. For example, healthcare, construction,  manufacturing, and telecommunications all utilize field service management. As such, there are many types of field service management, including:

  • Field service scheduling: arranging employee schedules, service appointments, and work orders.
  • Field service dispatch: sending the right field service technicians and specialists to work assignments.
  • Work order management: assigning and tracking work orders to the correct team – and usually includes managing the entire process from completion to invoicing.
  • Inventory management: keeping up with parts and supplies inventory, from the transfer of products to adjustments and more.
  • Field service contract management: overseeing and managing customer contracts and ensuring that all Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are met.

What is Field Service Management Software?

Managing your workforce involves many moving pieces – and field service management software is just one set of tools that can help organizations corral and maintain their resources.

When leveraged effectively, field service management software helps managers and technicians process job orders, automate scheduling and dispatch routines, keep track of service and repair tasks, manage customer service contracts, collect payments, and more. This is the key to maintaining an amazing customer experience – and competitive advantage. Some benefits of field management software include:

  • Mobile Field Service Management Software: With cloud and mobile capabilities, this software keeps technicians connected on the job. They can use mobile capabilities to capture images, troubleshoot remote assets, and evaluate the root causes of issues. Some providers also offer AI and AR capabilities, which help with collaboration.
  • Enterprise Asset Management Software: This type of software allows organizations to centralize information, as well as maintain and control operational assets and equipment. By doing both of these things, maintenance can be performed both on- and off-premises, which increases uptime and reduces costs, among other benefits.
  • Inventory Management Systems: This tool helps organizations optimize maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) inventory. It helps them keep granular tabs on inventory performance, and offers optimized recommendations for inventory and reorder levels.
  • Service Intelligence Platforms: This type of platform helps businesses understand their data from a completely holistic standpoint. It analyzes an organization’s data and helps connect the dots of its business. It produces actionable recommendations based on the analyses performed – which leads to memorable CX, reduced customer churn, lowered service costs, an upskilled workforce, and more.

Why is Field Service Management important?

The benefits of effective field service management are numerous. In short, automating field service tasks helps to streamline workflows – ultimately saving critical resources such as time, money, and labor. When done correctly, field service management allows you to:

  • Streamline work orders. Field service technicians struggle the most with pre-visit service history reviews, knowledge base access, service manual access, and more. Sound familiar? Field service management software can help by processing job orders, scheduling and dispatching techs, tracking service and repair tasks, and managing customer service contracts – among other items.
  • Save thousands of hours every year (and increase revenue!). Time is money, and manual processes can cause work orders to be missed. With field service management platforms, all data is collected and tracked in one platform, helping you to see your business holistically. When you have an accurate overview of your organization, you can make wiser decisions about how to allocate your resources.
  • Improve productivity and satisfaction across managers, service teams, and customers. With the right tools, inefficient processes and repetitive tasks can easily be automated – allowing your employees to focus on more challenging, engaging, and satisfying work. Optimal employee experiences lead to happier workforces – and higher retention rates! – which boosts productivity and the bottom line. Additionally, you can track job progress and keep customers updated on their requests, creating a proactive service environment and positive customer experience.
  • Keep track of technician performance. Field service management software tracks technician locations, service orders, and performance metrics in real time. Managers can see where their techs are excelling or where they need the most help. This improves field service operations efficiency – especially because managers can anticipate and solve problems before they occur. Having these kinds of metrics on hand also ensures that organizations are meeting and exceeding customer expectations with every job completed.
  • Communicate more efficiently with customers and technicians. Between automated scheduling and dispatch, real-time updates, customer service contract management, and payment processing capabilities, field service management software can improve communication between customers and the company. When customers are satisfied, they are more likely to stay on board and spread the word.

History of Field Service Management – and a Look at its Future

Traditional field service management was very manual – think paper forms and log books. But with the emergence of mobile, on-the-go solutions,  field service management has been going through its own evolution from analog to digital.

But while digital transformation can be credited with small increases in efficiency, productivity, ROI, and customer and employee satisfaction, it has also introduced more few challenges. As the technology gets even better, customers are demanding more. For example, modern customers want online scheduling, precise appointments, the ability to select a trusted or preferred technician, and constant job status updates and tracking.

That’s why the next evolution of field service management is moving towards artificial intelligence and smart solutions that understand challenges before they become crises, and offer data-driven solutions for every business need.

Field Service Management’s Evolution into Service Intelligence

Today’s organizations want to make laser-focused business decisions. And while field service management solutions are one type of solution, they do have limitations.  Artificial intelligence used to be a future goal for most field service organizations, but with the level of user-friendly AI available today, companies can find the right technology to meet their challenges. While not all AI is created equal, there is an all-encompassing solution on the market: Service Intelligence.

Built with the needs of service organizations in mind, Service Intelligence goes beyond traditional business intelligence tools. Using a combination of Service Language Processing and Machine Learning, it provides actionable insights into the state of organizations, enabling service leaders to make data-driven decisions. It also equips technicians with the knowledge they need to diagnose and repair an issue on the first visit, subsequently improving customer interactions and reducing costs. Service Intelligence has the power to show which aspects of your business are working – and why.

It also delivers actionable recommendations based on business priorities and customer needs. And just as importantly, it presents that information in a way that details where executives should make improvements and which areas they should focus on in order to cut down on costs.

Platforms like Aquant understand that each organization has a unique set of needs. However, at their core, each organization is looking to:

  • Understand the stories told by their data and use these insights to connect every aspect of their business.
  • Predict and mitigate service escalations.
  • Deliver amazing customer experiences and reduce customer churn.
  • Lower service costs – especially with a looming recession.
  • Make every team member a service hero that performs at the level of their top technicians – even if they’re new to the service industry.

Ready to make your service data your greatest asset? Request a demo today. 

What is Workforce Management (and How Does it Work)?

What is workforce management?

Workforce management (WFM) is a set of processes that maximize workforce performance and productivity with the goal of boosting organizational performance. But what does that mean exactly? 

Simply put: WFM means a holistic way to ensure that your employees are as productive as possible by making sure they always have the right resources – whenever they need them.

With origins as a staff scheduling process for call centers, WFM has evolved into a complex framework for maintaining teams, budgeting, scheduling, and more. Today, its processes and tools are used across a number of business functions, including human resource management, performance and training management, scheduling, data collection, recruiting, budgeting and forecasting, scheduling, and analytics. Workforce management is a type of software applicable to a wide range of industries – including field service. 

As an extension of workforce management, field service management tools help teams better serve their clients and reduce overhead costs. Over the last decade, workforce management and field service management has evolved from time, attendance, and scheduling tools, to more sophisticated, data-driven technology that can continuously improve and manage workforce performance. Today, service intelligence is one of the most powerful tools available to leaders that need to manage their service workforce.  

Why workforce management is important

To answer this question, it’s first essential to understand how workforce management strategies are developed and used – as well as what an efficient one looks like. 

An airtight workforce management process prioritizes efficiency and safety for all employees, all while ensuring that they have the correct resources to do their jobs efficiently. When done right, workforce management goes beyond performance and scheduling. It provides insights into the exact ways that companies should invest in their employees. 

With that foundation in mind, a solid workforce management strategy would provide insights into all aspects of a business. Workforce management is overall pretty flexible, but there are a few items that you should always include in your organization’s process. A strong workforce management solution should be capable of the following functions, to name a few:

  • Data collection: collecting statistics about the workforce’s performance
  • Field service management: making sure that company resources are dispatched and utilized correctly for each job
  • Performance tracking: ensuring that employee performance meets and exceeds company expectations and KPIs
  • Budgeting: planning and using allocated financial resources for internal and external efforts
  • Recruitment: sourcing, shortlisting, interviewing, and selecting the right candidates for available positions
  • Training: providing training, coaching, or resources (online or otherwise!) that ensure that employees are up-to-date on the latest skills for their jobs
  • Knowledge Management tools: collating field notes and more from top techs – and making them accessible to front-line ambassadors, who can use the intel to help customers resolve their challenges without involving a technician
  • Service analytics and recommendations: looking at an organization’s current landscape in order to determine areas of success and opportunities – and then providing actionable suggestions for improvement 

Advantages of a efficient workforce management process

When successfully implemented and utilized, workforce management allows companies to improve their performance across the board by tracking goals and KPIs. Additionally, it helps to manage and flag costs. And, possibly more importantly, it allows organizations to understand their team on a deeper level – including their strengths, weaknesses, and interests. This ensures that workers are constantly invested in and improved, which leads to happier employees, increased productivity, and improved retention. Above all, all roads lead to an improved customer experience across the board. 

Workforce management systems can help:

  • Control costs: Thanks to the help of technology, manual tracking is a thing of the past. Costly expenses, from overstaffing to excessive overtime, can be easily managed – and minimized. 
  • Run payroll: Many workforce management software automatically analyze hourly labor and overtime patterns. This increases payroll’s reliability. 
  • Improve productivity: Want to benchmark your productivity against your peers? Workforce management systems can help you cross-reference data from KPIs, time, attendance, etc. against businesses that are similar in size or industry. With the right insights, you can help your employees get up to speed, assign them tasks that are within their capabilities, and more. 
  • Develop smarter scheduling: You always want to make sure your vacancies are filled by the right people with the correct skill sets. This will ensure that you have optimal coverage at all times in every location.

Choosing the right workforce management solution for your organization

There are a number of workforce management solutions on the market, with options ranging from basic time and attendance functionalities to total transformation with service analytics and AI. With that in mind, there are a few factors that determine the right workforce management solutions for a business, including industry, location, company goals, and employee needs. 

However, it can be costly to build in-house systems, so most companies turn to third-party tools and software. When evaluating solutions, be sure to:

  • Take a look at your existing workforce management processes. This can help determine if your organization is ready for an advanced solution. What types of processes are currently in place? Who is responsible for them? How are they working? 
  • Talk to your stakeholders and get their feedback. No one knows a system better than a power user. Determine each stakeholder’s pain points and understand where they’d like to see improvements. Additionally, get to know what they like about the existing systems, and see if there are ways to streamline those processes. Remember: stakeholder buy-in is everything when implementing a new solution!
  • Develop a functionality wishlist. It’s always best to come to a solution evaluation meeting with basic discoveries done. Based on your organizational analyses and conversations with stakeholders, determine which features are non-negotiable in your ideal solution, as well as some nice-to-haves. This will help you shortlist providers that provide the exact features that you want and additional features that you did not initially consider.

What is Workforce Management for today’s service organizations?

Service organizations today have a unique set of needs. No matter where they are in their service journey, organizations are looking to:

  • Understand the stories told by their data and using these insights to connect every aspect of their business
  • Predict and mitigate service escalations 
  • Deliver amazing customer experiences and reduce customer churn
  • Lower service costs – especially with a looming recession 
  • Make every team member a service hero that performs at the level of their top technicians – even if they’re new to the service industry 

Given the needs of today’s organizations, companies are making the decision to move beyond traditional workforce management tools. They need smart software, like Service Intelligence, that can help them accomplish all of the above and more. Service intelligence platforms like Aquant use technology that organizes and analyzes traditional service data and institutional knowledge from its highest-performing employees. 

Powered by their own data, service intelligence platforms can provide workforce reporting, asset reporting, customer success reporting, and troubleshooting and triage tools. This offers entire organizations – from executives to technicians – access to custom reports, analyses, and insights that can change the way they deliver service

Service intelligence platforms are an excellent form of workforce management solutions. Platforms like Aquant allow organizations to:

  • Identify technician training needs. Service intelligence platforms account for all details around a technician’s performance, including customer information, assets, number of visits, success rates, and more. This provides real context into the technician’s performance, especially when it comes to identifying strengths and areas for improvement. Managers can then assign techs more projects that highlight their skills, as well as provide resources for improving their performance in other areas. 
  • Upskill technicians with the help of troubleshooting tools. Effectively sharing knowledge among teams is the key to service success. Service intelligence platforms can upskill employees by keeping historical service data, tribal knowledge, equipment manuals, and more in one place – and making it accessible to anyone who needs to find it. This functionality can teach junior technicians quickly and boost technician performance across the board. 
  • Support every team within an organization, from engineering to product to field technicians. 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.
  • Give teams insights (and context!) into customer needs and their journeys. Objectivity is everything. Taking a look at the raw data can provide predictive reporting that informs preventative maintenance – and, by proxy, a stellar customer experience. Say goodbye to unnecessary escalations and hello to memorable customer service.  

The end result? A clear shift from traditional, break-fix service – right into predictive service that’s informed by real analytics. 

3 Service Industry Challenges That are More Common Than you Think

Here’s How Top Service Leaders are Solving Them 

Finding it difficult to achieve service excellence? You’re not alone.

COVID-19 has accelerated the speed of transformation by several years. Some organizations are ahead of the curve, but the majority are struggling to keep up. Not to mention, we’re living in a world with a number of economic barriers and challenges: customer expectations have heightened, labor shortages continue to rise, and a recession is on the horizon. 

Service organizations are struggling to keep their businesses afloat, let alone achieve their KPIs. And unfortunately, so many of these issues have trickled down into the customer experience. 

But with the help of a few new tools, some organizations are finding success. Read on to learn how leading service professionals are solving some of today’s top industry challenges. 

1. Keeping up With Customer Demands

After experiencing customer escalations, organizations often wonder, “Is there a way that we could have prevented something like this? Could we have proactively looked at different things to help us address these types of problems?”

In one word: yes. But for many companies, NPS scores and customer surveys have been key to uncovering how customers respond to products and services. But there’s a lot they leave out. The biggest problem: they are reactionary and can’t help you avert problems before they happen. 

To counteract this issue, one of the best ways to keep up with customer demands is to establish a data-driven culture. This means creating structured and actionable plans from all the data that you’ve got. This allows you to take data, build measurements and metrics, and pinpoint trends and insights that reflect on customers, parts, and products. 

“We’ve seen the need to continue to improve how we enable remote service and support, especially considering COVID’s impact. You have to support customers the way they want to be supported – you can’t assume a one-size-fits-all perspective. We have to integrate all of our different data sets to produce actionable insights, and answer the question: how do we turn information into actionable data points? That’s how we’ll deliver value to our customers and serve them the way they want to be served.”

– Linda Tucci, Senior Global Director of the Technical Solutions Center, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics

2. Leveraging Data in a Meaningful Way

There is currently an overall lack of resources across the service industry. And with the threat of a possible recession looming overhead, cost is one of the major factors on the minds of service leaders. 

The best way to combat these concerns is to use your existing data to set organizational priorities. When data is leveraged to its fullest capacity, it pinpoints areas of opportunity you should be focusing on – whether that’s retention, training, customer experience, or more. 

“Production requires customer uptime – which means we have to rethink how we train our technicians, how we run our processes, and how we deliver the service to the customer to maximize uptime. Service Insights uncovers a wide range of data, including information on parts, the amount of time it takes to get a job done, technicians and their skills, and customers and their needs. It then synthesizes that data and helps our managers understand what priorities the team needs to focus on. Instead of having our managers trying to dig through all sorts of data, they come to actionable insights. And they can start improving the way we service our customers.”

– Mark Hessinger, Senior Vice President of Global Customer Success, 3D Systems

3. Hiring, Training, and Retaining Top Talent

Today’s service workforce is undergoing a dramatic generational shift. As Baby Boomers move into retirement and take their hard-earned expertise with them, a wave of younger workers are entering the service industry with a sizable learning curve. The disruption presents ongoing challenges for service organizations of all sizes. “A lot of organizations don’t give enough credit or have enough confidence that they can train people with the right raw talent and aptitude,” observed Roy Dockery, Vice President of Field Operations at Flock Safety, during an Aquant 2022 Service Leaders Spring Break session

How can orgs attract, retain, and quickly bring younger workers up to speed before seasoned pros retire? 

“You have to look at the makeup of your team. There’s no one-size-fits-all methodology to embrace. You have to consider all the different demographics and nuances: different age, demographics, how they learn, how they communicate, how they collaborate.

The employee’s experience is paramount. To do more horizontal or parallel career pivots or transformation, you have to create opportunities within the service organization. To create this high-achieving team with a long tenure, you need to understand business and customer needs. It’s a lot easier to retain people than hire new ones.”

– Paul McDermott, Director of Service & Support, T2 Biosystems

 

Want help in solving common service challenges? Get a demo of Service Insights to see how leading organizations are predicting service and customer needs, creating data-driven plans, and more.

Service Hero™, Aquant’s new Mobile Triaging App, Empowers Repair Technicians to Become Experts in all Major Home Appliances and Brands

Through our work with service organizations and subject matter experts across the globe, we found one common challenge: an ever-increasing knowledge gap. 

We listened to industry demands and got right to work creating an easy-to-use, all-encompassing tool. Today, we’re proud to introduce Service Hero™ for Home Appliances, a new mobile triaging solution that troubleshoots issues pertaining to all major home appliances and brands – and turns every service technician into an expert.

“We designed the mobile triage app to help service technicians resolve issues faster, become more self-sufficient, and have a higher success rate,” said Edwin Pahk, Aquant’s VP of Product Marketing and Business Development. “Service Hero™ improves key factors such as First Time Fix rates, time spent on site, and customer satisfaction.”

Get Instant Access to Home Appliance Repair Info – Straight from the Experts

As younger home appliance repair techs enter the workforce, their more seasoned peers are retiring – and taking decades of experience with them. Without access to on-demand knowledge, techs can’t perform fixes to the best of their ability. As a result, many repair visits include excessive calls to expert techs, leading to multiple future visits and an unsatisfactory customer experience. 

Here’s how Service Hero™ turns any home appliance repair tech into a seasoned expert, regardless of experience or training:

  1. Perform mobile triage for every major home appliance brand and model. From Samsung, Whirlpool, and Frigidaire to GE, LG, KitchenAid, Maytag, and more, Service Hero™ offers mobile triaging for major brands – including the newest of models. Based on the selected brand, model, and reported issue, Aquant’s algorithm offers a diagnosis and suggests the most likely repair and required parts. This helps techs quickly get to the root of the problem and implement the best possible fix.
  2. Access real-life best practices from veteran, certified technicians. That means techs will always have access to accurate repair information based on real-world scenarios. Best of all? Service Hero™ is in a continuous state of self-improvement: it records the final solution and remembers it for future visits, so techs know what to do if a similar problem occurs again. 
  3. Read targeted knowledge articles for additional technical or repair information. Need additional information about a certain appliance or functionality? Instantly access a robust database of knowledge articles and master appliances of all kinds. 

Start improving service from every angle.

Want to see Service Hero™ for Home Appliances in action? Request a free trial today.

From Employee Engagement to a Customer-First Mindset: Lessons from Ortho Clinical Diagnostics’ Technical Solutions Lead

What does it take to make customer experience a top priority in today’s service industry? We launched the Service Intel Podcast to answer that question. In each episode, service leaders join us to discuss turning status-quo service into exceptional experiences. 

Recently, we sat down with Linda Tucci to talk about “a new era in customer support” — one where there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Linda is the Senior Global Director of Technical Solutions at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. She and her team provide remote support, primarily focused on medical technologies in hospital laboratories. She also provides escalation support to field service personnel around the world.

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

Support Customers the Way They Want to Be Supported

Linda discusses how different customers are looking for different styles of support. For example, 24/7 phone support might resonate with a customer in the United States. In Asia Pacific, many customers prefer to interact through an app. And some cultures reach out more proactively, while others are less likely to contact a company if something is wrong. There are generational differences, too, including comfort levels with social media support. Understanding this, says Linda, is key to meeting customers where they are. 

Look at the Intersection of Data and Support

In 2019, Ortho launched an internal tool called Smart Service. By looking at all the data on the company’s instrument base, it allows field engineers to go on-site and understand the current health of an instrument and whether there’s anything else they can take a look at. And when a customer calls for escalation support, there’s already access to great data to get that customer back up and running as quickly as possible. As you might expect, Smart Service became invaluable in 2020, with lockdowns making it impossible to go on-site. Linda shares how having a holistic view provided so much value when remote support was the only option. 

Focus on Turning Information Into Value

Linda discusses why it’s so important to analyze interactions between customers and your service team. She shares how she takes inbound communication received by her remote support team, vets it, and feeds it back into the training organization for continuous improvement. Understanding these interactions also helps identify individual coaching opportunities, such as helping a new employee increase remote resolutions. It helps identify potential quality issues, too. 

Own the Issue to Resolution 

Resolution is far more important than call length to Linda. She shares how some customers don’t want to troubleshoot and prefer to have a field engineer come on-site. Others want to walk through the steps on the phone. It’s all about letting customers drive where a call goes. It may even require bringing other people onto the call. And her team always follows up with customers later to make sure the solution is successful.

Use Technology to Empower Your Team 

Linda discusses a key question for service leaders: “how can we have technology be smarter?” She shares helpful insights around tagging events and being able to deliver not just data points, but actionable data. You can get paralyzed by the data and add spreadsheet after spreadsheet, or you can focus on the ways technology can ease the burden on employees. 

Employee Engagement Matters Now More than Ever

Linda discusses a major process-mapping exercise she went through in early 2019, looking at the anatomy of a call or customer contact and understanding where people’s time was going. This led to a transformation initiative aimed at making the lives of team members easier — removing obstacles and understanding what’s most important to them from a technology perspective. “Whatever leaders have done historically around employee engagement, it’s even more critical now,” she says. “It’s critically important that people feel their voices are heard.”

Listen to the full 30-minute episode for more of Linda’s advice. And subscribe to the Service Intel podcast so you don’t miss any of our upcoming conversations with service industry leaders. 

NCR’s Technical Training Leader Talks Influencing New Products, Precision Diagnostics and More

What does it take to make customer experience a top priority in today’s service industry? We launched the Service Intel Podcast to answer that question. In each episode, service leaders join us to discuss turning status-quo service into exceptional experiences. 

In a recent episode, we were joined by Jason Holland, Technical Learning Leader at NCR, where he started out as a field technician 21 years ago. NCR specializes in retail, hospitality and banking products, including self-checkouts and ATMs. Jason’s organization is responsible for training a global team of technicians to maintain and repair those products. 

Here are some of the highlights from our conversation with Jason. 

Refine Training Methods

Sometimes, says Jason, the documented training from engineering can feel too rigid, while the field way can feel too creative. Since his team is tightly aligned with engineering, he often plays the role of mediator. Trainers connect with field technicians frequently to discuss what’s new, what they’re hearing, and collect feedback that can then be incorporated into training. This often results in more useful materials (like a performance-style video to support the field).

Use Field Technician Feedback for Product Improvement

NCR has built a culture of product development taking information from field technicians and incorporating it into new products. Jason shares an example of how this approach led to better, faster customer support by reducing the need to replace 50-100 pound modules and instead using smaller components that technicians can always have on-hand in their vehicles. 

Create New Products and Streamline Product Launches With the Help of Technicians

It isn’t just about improvements, says Jason. He discusses how field technicians at NCR are encouraged to submit ideas for new products. There’s an award system in place and technicians are recognized throughout the company for their contributions. In fact, many ideas have made their way to the market — proof of the role field technicians can have on the bigger-picture success of a company. Jason also shares how his team works closely with engineering before new products are launched. This includes creating a pilot version of training, even when service manuals aren’t completed yet. His team’s feedback can lead to changes to service documentation and a better process once the product does make its debut.

Leverage Precision Diagnostics

While ATMs have been communicating errors for decades in some way, NCS is taking this a step further with precision diagnostics. Jason discusses how the company takes error code data from an ATM and analyzes it to determine what’s likely to fail soon. When a technician is already on-site they can do additional repairs to keep those components working long-term. 

Align Training and Sales for Better Resource Allocation

Jason talks about an all-too-common scenario: sales will inform training that they’ve sold a product and need 2,000 people trained right away. To avoid a negative customer experience here, NCR has an operational process in place when a salesperson wants to make a bid to a customer. A team connects all the dots to ensure the proper resources are in place first. It creates an open communication loop between all teams involved in a sale. If all pieces are not in place, the salesperson can’t put in a bid. Ultimately it forces a conversation and raises awareness of the company’s capabilities to fully support its customers at all times. 

View Customer Escalations as Opportunities 

Of course, there are times when a company gets it wrong and customers aren’t happy. Jason discusses the importance of listening to those customers and how there are often great nuggets of information that can be incorporated into training or support. 

Restructure Training for Retention

It’s a well-known statistic with training: most people forget 70% of what they’re told in a single day. Jason talks about how NCR solves for this by holding 30 percent of training in a classroom and 70 percent in a lab environment — and how it leads to greater retention of information. 

Over the years, says Jason, NCR has transformed its training organization from order-taking to business-partner centric, using data and analytics to help field partners perform their roles better. The result? Training has an increased presence within the business. Jason says his biggest piece of advice is to find that special niche for yourself to become a partner to the business — not just a training organization. 

Listen to the full 30-minute episode for more of Jason’s advice. And subscribe to the Service Intel podcast so you don’t miss any of our upcoming conversations with service industry leaders. 

Are Your Field Technicians Relying on Parts Instead of Knowledge to Resolve Issues?

No doubt, you’re closely monitoring KPIs like first-time-fix, technician utilization, and SLA compliance. But one of the most difficult and neglected KPIs to track is efficient parts usage. Service leaders have many different names for it: shotgunning, swap til you drop, troubleshooting with parts, you name it!

These hidden excess costs might indicate a trend of field technicians going through far more parts than required for the number of jobs completed.

You might assume it is just the cost of doing business. In reality, you likely have a knowledge gap problem.

Lack of Insights Rack Up Hidden Costs in the Field

In an effort to resolve complex issues quickly, especially if SLAs or other deadlines are at risk of going in the red, technicians think on their feet. But if those techs lack insight into the root cause of issues or face other complications, trying any solution that comes to mind to get the job done might mean dramatically higher service costs.

Instead of choosing the most cost-effective method to complete a customer request, inexperienced technicians often throw everything but the kitchen sink at the problem — experimenting with countless parts and resolution procedures until the equipment works again.

That often means trying out the most expensive parts first when a simple calibration may have been the answer. Ultimately, the box gets checked, and the issue is resolved but a lot of man-hours and spare parts were wasted in the process. And applying a stopgap solution might mean that the underlying problem still remains, prompting repeat visits and mounting client frustration.

Get to the Root Cause Quicker and Reduce Parts Usage

Don’t make your techs on the ground rely on guesswork to get the job done. The advancement of AI and machine learning in recent years has created exciting new opportunities for products that can empower your field service team and help bridge the knowledge gap between junior and senior staff. You can provide your entire team with meaningful information that imparts years’ worth of wisdom in just days.

Dynamic, intelligent tools like Aquant’s Intelligence Triage, which understand the context of questions and input regardless of word choice, help your team resolve issues faster and more accurately. Instead of trial and error, these tools tap into organizational data to provide techs on-site with the most efficient path to resolution — ultimately increasing client satisfaction while lowering service costs.

And depending on the severity of the problem, your call center reps may be able to diagnose the problem before dispatching a tech. Using a dynamic neural network, reps can go through a series of triage questions with customers on the phone.

The questions are auto-generated based on the current problem and historical data. Together, the info will help predict the most likely resolution, or at least narrow down the issue so the tech is best informed before arriving at the job.

The Solution to Fewer Parts Wasted & Reduced Service Costs

Hidden Data, Not Wizardry Holds the Key

If you want to end the parts problem and empower your techs to make cost-effective service decisions, you’ve got to give your entire team access to information. You might think your best techs are magicians, but what really sets them apart is the tribal knowledge they’ve got in their head from years’ worth of on-the-job experience. But facing a changing workforce, AI tools will help bridge the knowledge gap and provide equal access to the kind of information that created the select few experts on your team. However, even before that, you’ve got cull your company’s data — all of it — in new ways.

Smart technology can collect and analyze all your historical data, including neatly structured data from your CRM and parts databases, and even free text from work orders, service tickets, and other sources. Then it applies machine learning to unlock significant insights that may not appear in any training manual.

With an intelligent system, customer-facing agents can use AI-driven triage to troubleshoot the problem while on the phone, while techs in the field, even those with just a month or two of experience, can perform like your most knowledgeable experts because they’ll be more confident in their decision making.

In a matter of months, you’ll see costs go down as service issues are completed using the right parts for the job on the first visit, with fewer man-hours and truck rolls.

Check out how our customer Rational was able to realize in their brief testimonial video and contact us today to start your own service transformation journey.

What’s Your Digital Transformation Missing? Tribal Knowledge.

Putting all the focus on analyzing documented data means you’re missing out on the most important, yet overlooked knowledge – the kind that’s closely held by long-tenured employees.

Digital transformation (DX) is on the minds of most business executives for good reason. Worldwide, investment in DX is expected to reach more than $6 trillion over the next four years, according to IDC. Much of that spend is earmarked for solutions that promise greater efficiency and deeper customer insights. But all is not going as planned for organizations that embark on sweeping data initiatives. Even as record amounts are spent on tech investments, a large number of projects fail to reach their stated goals.

Where are organizations going wrong? A big stumbling block is overlooking an organization’s hidden resources – the tribal knowledge that won’t be found in the data.

A Harvard Business Review article from earlier this year, Digital Transformation Is Not About Technology, summed up these concerns.

“Why do some digital transformation efforts succeed and others fail? Fundamentally, it’s because most digital technologies provide possibilities for efficiency gains and customer intimacy. But if people lack the right mindset to change and the current organizational practices are flawed, DX will simply magnify those flaws.”

It’s not just about digitizing existing processes, it’s about leveraging new technologies to improve the way businesses solve problems and innovate. This can be supported by taking the unique opportunity that AI provides to extract best practices from the subject matter experts and making them actionable across the organization. Here’s how to unlock that data.

Make tribal knowledge part of your DX plan

Digital transformations that don’t focus on people are like Batman without Robin — lacking balance and likely to fail. That’s why transformation initiatives, especially in the service industry, need to prioritize the know-how earned by the experience of their SMEs. Tribal knowledge about customers, products, processes, and equipment — the good stuff that provides a competitive advantage — is rarely categorized. And if it’s not in a database, for all intents and purposes, that information doesn’t exist and can’t be analyzed.

Instead of simply using new tech tools to analyze old data, turn your organization around by unlocking data such as technician notes, information that lives outside of traditional databases, or uncategorized information about customers or machines that only your best experts seem to know. This is the key to making tribal knowledge freely accessible and actionable, so what used to be known by only a few can be turned into insights for the many. Who are the ones in an org who have all this information stored in their heads?  Look to those who are the people always called on the solve tough problems and bring them in as part of the team that will help oversee the project and use AI tools to categorize and analyze all that unstructured data.

Go beyond connecting data to customer activity and start connecting with employees

Look at any DX plan, and the stated objective is some variation of simplifying processes to become more agile and deliver better, more targeted customer experiences. And that narrow focus has caused many tech vendors and data analysts to overlook the internal resources as part of the transformation equation. But you can avoid that misstep.

It’s not enough to simply involve your industry experts in the planning process, but the technology has to actively enable ongoing input from these coveted data sources so the system can continue learning from their real-life experiences.

Why? Aside from collecting the hidden data we know resides in their heads and not on company hard drives, they also provide a much-needed perspective. Computers excel at quickly crunching numbers and finding hidden patterns in data, while subject matter experts are master problem solvers with an eye towards the big picture.

In addition, once the data is analyzed, make sure the results make sense for your business by using the real-life expertise of subject matter experts to fine-tune and validate findings. Automating insights from historical data is not enough on its own – those answers may provide solutions that are technically correct, but what’s the right match for your industry, customers and the mix of employees on hand to execute on those recommendations?

Use technology to spread the subject matter expertise

Information, no matter how good it is, is useless unless it’s readily available to everyone. Once your data is analyzed, make it easily searchable and accessible to all employees to create more knowledge across the organization and help erase the skills gap between – a problem that’s been exacerbated as more Boomers retire, leaving Millennials to experience a daily trial by fire experience.

AI tools combined with those that use natural language processing (which understands the context of your search regardless of word choice) make searching smart databases as easy as searching Google, and results will continue to be fine-tuned over time. This gives all employees equal access to previously hidden information, and skills that took years to learn can now be passed down to junior employees in a matter of days.

And by putting your people front and center of your technology initiatives you will ramp up your skilled team quicker and avoid the oft-cited and dreaded stat that 70 percent of complex, large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goals.