Top 5 Service Lessons of 2013

As I look at my desktop calendar, I can only think about how quickly another year has come and gone. This time of year is all about reflection on the previous 12 months and aspirations for great things in the next dozen.

There were a lot of great initiatives and best practices implemented by service organizations in the past year. Many of these best practices were highlighted through research and were key themes at a number of events I was able to attend across the country.

So let’s take a moment to see what 2013 has taught us, and let’s all aspire to continue to grow our service businesses in 2014.

1. Don’t just create dashboards, enable intelligence. Many of us have gotten accustomed to the concept of a red-yellow-green system to trigger notifications to management and the front line. However, top performing organizations have been able to provide enhanced analytics that move beyond monitoring colors to enable ‘what if’ scenarios, real-time forecasting of service demand, and proactive triggering of a service visit. All of these capabilities help to foster activity which leads to resolution as opposed to another dashboard of colors and charts.

2. Data should not be held in a silo, open insight up to the entire organization. Is the data being collected in the field easily understood by other functions within your organization? Organizations would like to think that they have broken through their silos, but is this possible if each function speaks a different language? Top performing organizations in Aberdeen’s Mobile Field Service research ensured that all relevant stakeholders collaborated on key initiatives that impacted service delivery. And these teams didn’t just talk, they worked together to identify the right products and services that helped enhance the customer experience currently and into the future.

3. Enable a real-time view into assets, parts, and people in the field. Service demand can fluctuate wildly throughout a given period of time. Therefore, it is integral that front-line teams and management have a real-time view of the resources that are available to resolve customer issues efficiently. Top performing organizations have been able to provide this level of insight to empower service teams with the ability to be nimble in an ever-changing environment.

4. Keep your supplier network and partners in the loop. Despite noble aspirations, the service supply chain continues to become more complex. Whether it is the number of suppliers, technology partners, or internal teams, communication and collaboration can become cumbersome. Top performing organizations have been able to ensure that the entire service supply chain is not only integrated to deliver exceptional service to the end customer, but also that a true partnership is built which aligns goals, standards, and incentives.

5. Field service is more than just scheduling a tech. Right tech, at the right time, with the right part. We have all heard the many rights of field service. Scheduling technicians is extremely important in field service, but what happens if the tech isn’t able to resolve the issue? This is a failure, right? Top performing organizations understand that unless the tech is equipped with the knowledge, parts, and tools to resolve an issue the first time, getting their within an SLA window is meaningless to the customer.

This list could go on and on. There are so many ways that service has led the way for improvements in operational efficiency, organizational profitability, and the customer experience.

There will always be room for us to improve the service offerings and experiences provided to customers, and I look forward to commenting on that roadmap in 2014. Have a great wrap to another exciting year, and I hope our paths will cross in 2014 either through research or in person at an event.

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