Managing Product Parts for Better Field Service

When we think of field service our minds jump to trends around mobility, tablets, and BYOD (bring your own device). The topic of service parts is often overlooked, yet it’s absolutely vital to field service.

According to Aberdeen Group’s recent Field Service 2013: Workforce Management Guide the number one reason organizations were unable to resolve an issue the first time was not having the right part at the time of service.

Service parts may seem like a secondary consideration (as compared to the technician or the mobile device), however when you consider that Aberdeen’s research also showed that more than half of all field service visits require a service part; its importance climbs dramatically.

As organizations look to improve the integration between the parts operations and field service first-time fix, customer satisfaction, and profitability, there are three major areas to be addressed:

Integration of technology infrastructure. In Aberdeen’s Field Service research, organizations looked to improve first-time fix, and thus the coordination between parts and field service, through a.) better diagnosis or triage at the dispatch/initial call level, b.) improved field-based access to parts, and c.) more intelligently scheduling techs. These strategies all need an infrastructure in place to tie information and insight while leading to the proper execution of service. This technology infrastructure must also be integrated with back-office systems (i.e., ERP, CRM) to maintain a real-time view of service, the customer, and parts for all relevant stakeholders.

Accurately forecasting service demand. Without planning for the future, it is quite difficult to execute on fluctuations in real-time service demand. In Aberdeen’s study Convergence 2012: People and Parts Linked Together to Solve Customer Issues top performing organizations were 62 percent more likely than others to use service parts data captured to aid both forecasts and field service dispatch. More accurately planning for service demand not only ensures the right part is available when the tech needs it, but also enables the service organization to stock only those parts that are in fact needed, thus saving on the cost of inventory.

Collaboration between service functions. According to Aberdeen, top performers are 48 percent more likely than others to collaborate with the rest of the organization. More specifically to service, nearly half of organizations (45 percent) sampled by Aberdeen coordinate communications and processes with internal teams (i.e., field service, call center, dispatch) to enable better collaboration in resolving issues. The entire service organization must be devoted to issue resolution, and collaboration allows for the transfer of valuable data that will help both internal and client-facing processes.

The integration of field service and the parts operations is a complicated endeavor which must have the combined efforts of technology, process, and dedicated people across the organization to succeed. The inability to resolve a customer issue the first time (or worse yet second or third time) doesn’t just lead to an unsatisfied customer; the impact is felt by additional costly truck rolls, the opportunity cost of other visits missed, and a competitor which can do the job more effectively.

To learn more about integrating field service and the parts operation download Aberdeen’s full report.

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