As a member of the Global Customer Transformation team at ServiceMax, I have the opportunity to interact with customers both before and after they have gone live with ServiceMax. Nowhere is that interaction more apparent than with our Chief Service Officer (CSO) Summit. The CSO Summit brings together service leaders in a forum unlike any I have ever experienced. In the Summit, leaders are free to share, exchange, and learn from one another on best practices and trends they see in their own service organizations. This year we have transformed our CSO Summit and turned it into a virtual series. I have the honor of hosting the series over the coming year, and as you may have guessed, we kicked off the series by discussing COVID-19 and the effect it has had on the attendees’ respective organizations.
(For insight into the best practices and trends that came out of last year’s CSO Summit, check out this ServiceMax Live episode, where we discuss the 2020 CSO Report.)
Following our initial meeting, I began to ponder…what are some of the key things that will be top of mind for service leaders as they begin to see states and businesses re-open? How will they adjust to the new normal? How can we begin to formulate a plan that will get everyone up and running as quickly as possible?
To help those who are asking those questions, I have identified 4 things that are top of mind when navigating the service world. A post-crisis handbook if you will.
1. You developed a solution; now make it permanent
A number of people I talk to have reviewed their existing field procedures to find steps that can be re-worked or bypassed. They have made changes out of necessity rather than “that would be nice to have.” I’ve seen the increased implementation of mobile solutions, and the waiver or substitution of things like customer signatures. Often, these are changes that the technicians out in the field have been requesting for a long time.
The thing is, you can’t go back to the old way of doing things once restrictions are eased. Moving from paper and pen to a digital solution has loads of benefits for your service organization. You will see more efficient technicians in the field because they have all the equipment history and information at their fingertips prior to showing up on site. The back office will be able to eliminate the swivel chair processes that occur, ensuring they are not transcribing incorrect data between systems. This also means more timely invoicing, higher SLA attainment, and higher NPS scores, among others. Take those efficiencies you’ve developed and run with them!
2. Develop workforce models for capacity needed when lockdowns are raised
Where have you seen the largest surge in business during lockdown? If we use the med device field as an example, you may be focused on break-fix work and ensuring that the existing equipment is running at full capacity. This could have resulted in a large backlog of business around installs and Preventive Maintenance work. Does your current service team have all the required training and certification to be successful in managing that backlog?
When looking forward, your new workforce capacity models should be based on geographic realities and workforce needs. Where are you able to ramp up capacity more quickly while still keeping the safety of your service techs and customers top of mind? When you do make your decision by choosing a specific region or model of equipment that you are going to focus on first; ensure that you include various risk assessments to gauge the impact on your business should there be a resurgence of the virus. Additionally, how are you going to meet the new demand in regions where you may have a limited workforce or skillset? Now is the time to start considering and building a third-party workforce to meet those areas where you will require additional assistance.
3. Identify which workers can be brought back in when capacity opens
Many service leaders that I’ve spoken with have shared their plans for ensuring that those at the highest risk are able to move to remote troubleshooting roles while the business changes the way it supports customers. Rather than penalize their lack of ability to work in the field wrenching on a piece of equipment, they’ve found ways to retain the knowledge of some of their most experienced techs. When these service organizations begin to send more people out into the field, they need to have a more flexible approach that maintains the high level of service customers have come to expect, while also considering the human side of their engineers. For example, many schools and daycares have yet to re-open, making the challenge of raising and keeping kids safe a major hurdle to plan for. The simple change of flexible schedules may be the solution that allows you maintain service excellence moving forward.
4. Develop and test a business continuity plan
While many organizations have a dusty folder somewhere that contains their Business Continuity Plan (BCP), they likely did not review or test it prior to this major shift in the way they operate and how their employees stay connected. Many of their customers also don’t have plans in place and have been reaching out to their vendors for assistance in staying afloat during this time. With the forecast for a potential resurgence in the winter in the Northern Hemisphere, now is the time to evaluate what has been working well, and what you need to change moving forward. The current environment has raised the importance of the IT team and the risk associated with members of a centralized IT team getting sick. Ensure that the technology your service technicians rely on will continue to assist them in getting their work done in the most efficient manner possible by having a strong & tested business continuity plan.
No one can tell you exactly what to do when planning for the future of your service business, but now is the time to take action so you are in a position of strength coming out of this, rather than trying to play catch-up. Being more prepared than your competition will allow you to grow your service team, your revenue, and make you more appealing to the next generation of service technicians. Service technicians are the face of your company, and ensuring they are prepared will position your business for long term success.