It shouldn’t take a conflict in Ukraine to make organizations realize the fragility of trade. We’ve already had a taste of it with Covid and for many industries, there is still a sizeable hangover that needs addressing. If there is a lesson to learn from all of this, it is that organizations need to be better prepared to handle crises. Maintaining machines and devices, across industries is vital for modern economies and as the pandemic illustrated, it is also vital for life.

For many organizations, the past couple of years have been a wake-up call about the need to optimize and modernize field services. Talent shortages and increased frontline complexity have only added to the challenge and the need for rapid transformation. For many companies, there is still a lot of work to do to evolve and build pictures of customers and machines that enable more informed decision-making and better service delivery.

As Deloitte suggested late last year in its report Next Generation Customer Service: The Future of Field Service, to transform into next-generation field service, businesses need a 360-degree view of customers and assets.

“Data from all departments and processes need to be integrated with the customer and product information,” the report says, adding that organizations need to increase knowledge about how products are used with integrated data, about customer touch points and insights from product sensors.

It is this level of connected data that enables transformation. This has to be the backbone of modern field service, that will enable, not just optimization of service teams but also increase, human-centered customer services at the coalface. But how do you get there?

Understanding Your Assets

For any service team, understanding the assets—the machines or devices that need servicing—is key to the job, but it can also enable efficiencies and ensure customer satisfaction. With real-time service insights using integrated data, it is possible to have a top-level view of service revenue, costs, and installed base metrics. This allows leaders to analyze service operations, take corrective actions on aging product lines or pricing gaps, flag quality trends and improve strategic planning.

In addition, sales and account managers should also be able to have insights into service contracts, service consumption and SLAs. This enables companies to understand customers and their product use better, leading to opportunities for improved customer experiences, new product recommendations, and contract renewals.

Field service technicians also benefit from increased data integration and insight into customers and assets. As well as enabling techs to quickly see asset timelines and service histories, the increased visibility of assets also ensures a quicker, more accurate fix. As well as the ability to pre-order parts to reduce any repair times, service techs can actually improve first-time fix rates, limit time on customer premises and therefore reduce or even eliminate disruption to customers.

Addressing the Disconnect

This, of course, improves customer experience, a core theme for any ambitious business. Interestingly, one survey last year claimed that “94 percent of CEOs identified customer experience to be a primary or partial differentiator for their businesses.” Understanding assets and having the data needed to effectively manage and fix them quickly is a key part of that. However, a joint Salesforce and ServiceMax study, Building a Bridge Between Sales and Service with Asset Data, found that just 22 percent of businesses trust the data they currently receive from assets.

Clearly, there is a disconnect, between the willingness to transform and the actual implementation of digital technologies and tools that enable successful transformation. For field service teams, and therefore businesses as a whole, to thrive under the current economic and socio-political conditions, there needs to be greater intelligence in decision making.

Data-driven assets are the catalyst for this, so the quality of data, the analytics of that data, and the integration of that data with other departmental data sources should be the bedrock on which businesses need to build their future strategies. Anything less will lead to guesswork and in today’s volatile climate, contribute to business failure.

Learn more about leveraging asset data for decision-making in our recent eBook, The Power of Asset Data.

ABOUT Sumair Dutta

sumair duttaSumair Dutta is the VP of product marketing at ServiceMax. In this role, he helps shape ServiceMax messaging and positioning to support customers and prospects. Previously, Sumair worked closely with leaders of service businesses to define and shape their service vision while working hand in hand with implementation teams to execute on established service plans. Sumair is a thought leader in the field service and service management spaces and has conducted numerous research projects in the areas of field service, customer support and business strategy. He brings more than 15 years of experience in studying, analyzing and guiding field service organizations, first at the Aberdeen Group and most recently as the chief customer officer at The Service Council.