Category Archive: Uncategorized

What Shifting Left Means For Service Organizations

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

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

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

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

Shifting Left: What Does it Mean?

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

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

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

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

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


How are Your Peers Solving the Skills Gap? Join Aquant’s Service Leaders Spring Break to Find Out

Service leaders, we’ll be frank with you: the old way of service doesn’t work, especially in today’s economically-uncertain landscape.

One of the top questions that service leaders are grappling with today is, “What steps should I take to improve service outcomes while managing costs?” If this sounds familiar, grab your (free!) one-way ticket to Service Leaders Spring Break

New data shows that top organizations are turning away from traditional service models and looking towards a new frontier — one that prioritizes remote- and self-service options, top-tier customer service, and service knowledge on demand. That’s why this year’s event is all about training and retaining all-star teams, data analytics for service leaders, and quickly and efficiently achieving accurate resolutions in an era of self-service.

Here’s how Service Leaders Spring Break offers a fresh perspective on service:

  1. Learn how to upskill your service team in record time — and with record efficiency. Nearly one in three service leaders reported upskilling technicians and designing training programs as their most difficult challenge. But the best way to hire, retain, and upskill your employees is to invest in technology that offers the best knowledge-retention tools and professional support. Teams that feel empowered to take on the toughest challenges have better retention rates and provide unmatched customer experience. A bonus: if everyone had the knowledge and skills to perform like the top 20% of the workforce, service costs could be reduced by 21%. 
  2. Get comfortable with data analytics for service leaders — even if you don’t have a data science degree. There are many routes that your company can take to start tackling the skills gap, whether it’s via centralizing intelligence, leveraging AI, or using documentation to improve workforce performance. Aquant created the blueprint for collecting, storing, managing, interpreting, and applying data in ways that drive your service goals forward. You’ll learn how to use your data to start taking action, so all emerging solutions will apply to your use case. 
  3. Go from missing apparent signs of a customer escalation to using your data to create the seamless, preventative, low- to no-touch service experience that customers prefer. You can reduce costly service interactions by preventing escalations at every process step. We’ll explore strategies for quickly and efficiently achieving accurate resolutions in every service lifecycle stage.

Big problems require expert solutions, so we’ve assembled an all-star panel of service greats who have successfully charted their organizations’ paths: 

  • In a chat moderated by Ashley Bewick (Aquant), Tamra Call (Johnson Controls), Amber Porter (3D Systems), and Paige Gourley (Thermo Fisher Scientific) will introduce you to the new faces of service — and share their thoughts about hiring, shifting work environments, and recruiting advice, especially from the female perspective.
  • Juan Cruz, Jr. (Haemonetics), Chris Westlake (Generac), and Anthony Billups (Comfort Systems) are providing a crash course on closing the skills gap from the three perspectives that matter most: people, processes, and technology. 
  • Lotem Alon and Tim Burge of Aquant share expert tips for collecting, analyzing, and applying data in ways that drive service goals forward.
  • Sidney Lara and Rich Marchetti of the Aquant team show you how to create data strategies, establish internal benchmarks, and improve your baseline measurements to establish business goals.

If you haven’t yet secured your spot, there’s still time to celebrate Spring Break with us. Register today to save your seat.

Attention, Medical Device Service Orgs: To Minimize the Skills Gap, You Need to Make Data-Based Decisions

The medical device service industry continues to expand while other sectors are experiencing downturns. But increased demand alone can’t save it from costly challenges such as the skills gap, says Aquant’s 2023 Medical Device Service Benchmark Report

Read on to learn why the medical device industry’s top-performing companies decided that now is the ideal time to invest in data-driven tools that improve service outcomes.

This year’s benchmark data was gleaned from:

  • 44 organizations
  • More than 4.6 million work orders
  • Over 15,000 technicians
  • Over $3.4 billion in total service costs
  • An average of 3.5 years of service data per company

This year’s critical findings include:

  1. The medical device industry remained busy. With a 2.5% increase in field events and a 6% increase in technicians, the medical device sector had to keep up with the pandemic’s demands.
  2. The sector experienced cost savings thanks to strategically-leveraged technology. Many organizations left behind traditional models to adopt remote- and self-service options, as evidenced by the 4.5% increase in First Time Fix Rates and the 34% increase in Time Between Visits. These improvements can be credited to technology, self-service options, and remote tools. Most importantly, this shift resulted in a 4% decrease in Resolution Costs.
  3. However, the medical device industry still faces serious challenges like the skills gap. Even though there was an increase in the number of technicians on the field, these techs completed 3% fewer work orders, indicating Time to Competency and upskilling issues. As these issues compounded, lower-performing technicians cost their organizations an average of 86% more than top performers. In the bottom 20% of organizations, this gap was as high as 203%. 
  4. It’s essential to make critical changes that bridge service divides. Thriving organizations are combating high service costs, upskilling challenges, and other service delivery hurdles by:
  • Creating trust in data and normalizing data sanitation.
  • Prioritizing a workforce with diverse skills.
  • Investing in relevant tools and training.
  • Shifting to proactive service models.
  • Leveraging shared knowledge.
  • Empowering your team is worth it.

To get ahead—and stay ahead—medical device service organizations should invest in crucial technology initiatives to enhance knowledge, strengthen teams, and make strategic, data-backed decisions that put them at the forefront. Investing in the right tools, such as AI, to help your team perform like the top 20% of technicians can reduce your service costs by 30%. 

Read Aquant’s 2023 Medical Device Service Benchmark Report to understand the state of the sector and how your org stacks up.

Why Your Org’s Skills Gap is Contributing to Skyrocketing Service Costs

Get our detailed action plan for success.

The Service industry faces significant challenges, such as workforce shortages and increasing prices. According to Aquant’s 2023 Service Intelligence Benchmark Report, those factors, combined with current economic conditions, have driven up service costs by 7%. 

Those price increases are partly due to supply chain issues and parts challenges. But workforce skills and knowledge gaps also play a critical role in rising costs.

Companies need to pay attention more than ever: this year’s data showed that lower performers cost organizations 67% more than top performers. More-tenured technicians are retiring faster than their Millenial and Gen-Z replacements can enter the workforce. The pressure is on service organizations to not only quickly upskill less-experienced workers, but also retain them. It’s easier said than done, especially when a dramatic generational shift is at play. 

Did you know? If everyone had the knowledge and skills to perform like the top 20% of the workforce, service costs would be reduced by 21%.

With an empowered workforce, you can ensure employee loyalty and provide excellent customer service to existing clients — mainly because your team will feel confident, competent, and capable of producing stellar results.

To quickly upskill existing workers, hire and train incoming workers, and retain both groups, shift your focus to the following:

  1. Hiring motivated candidates with potential — and providing them with the necessary technical training. First, look for employees with traits that will make them successful within your company and with your customers. Then train those employees on service specifics. Set up mentorship programs, develop accessible training courses, and adopt technology that transfers knowledge. The right resources will equip talented candidates with the knowledge needed to deliver exceptional service. A bonus: employees are more likely to remain with your company if they feel their work makes a difference.
  2. Paying attention to soft skills training. A brand is only as strong as its ambassadors. Employees out in the field, directly interacting with customers, offer the first in-person contact with clients. The goal is always to be memorable by demonstrating strong interpersonal skills, showing an innate understanding of the problem, and providing a quick and accurate solution to the issue. To improve the customer experience, organizations should incorporate soft-skills best practices into mentoring programs and create formal training that focuses on developing specific soft skills. This includes problem-solving, communication, flexibility, and decision-making.
  3. Offering on-demand access to knowledge for faster (and more accurate!) service. Gen-Z and Millennial employees see technology as a career stepping stone. Offer tools, like Service Intelligence, that extend real-time access to critical service information. Ensure dispatch diagnoses the problem correctly during the initial customer complaint call, and provide the technician with all the relevant information before they arrive at the job site. This will help your technicians solve equipment failures on the first visit and reduce parts shotgunning — instead of making quick, short-term fixes that address symptoms but not the root cause of the problem. 

Service organizations can’t control inflation or ever-changing workforces, but they can stabilize certain areas of their business — like their workforce’s performance. Even companies with higher-than-normal levels of turnover can survive changes and maintain excellent customer satisfaction, especially when they have the right processes and tools to upskill incoming workers quickly. 

Customers, teams, and organizations win when every workforce member is empowered to perform as well as its longest-tenured employees. Get a demo of Aquant and learn how to measure your org’s performance, track your progress, and improve your metrics over time.

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

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

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

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

The secret to employee retention? Knowledge retention.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 5 Most Actionable Field Service Reports of 2023 (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 2023 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.