One of the ways that field service organizations (FSOs) can reduce the costs of service delivery and improve the customer experience is by implementing an effective remote support strategy. This involves putting processes and procedures in place to either resolve calls remotely and avoid dispatching field service engineers (FSEs) or obtain better information about the service issue so that the FSE can be more effective in resolving the problem in a timely manner once onsite.
The ability to resolve service requests remotely represents one of the greatest challenges for FSOs. In a recent survey conducted by Blumberg Advisory Group, over two-fifths (44%) of respondents indicated that increasing remote resolution rates is either very challenging or extremely challenging. The reason why some FSOs struggle with remote resolution is they lack the ability to effectively troubleshoot and diagnose problems remotely.
One of the keys to achieving a high remote resolution performance lies in the ability of the FSO to capture critical diagnostic data during the initial triage and screening step and at completion of the service event. To achieve this outcome, a field service organization must be able to do several things very well:
- Assign service personnel with experience and expertise to handle remote support issues.
- Implement procedures for remote support specialists to identify, track, and analyze problems and symptoms experienced by the end customer.
- Ensure that remote support specialists are capable of developing corrective actions based on analysis of information about problems and symptoms.
- Empower support personnel to implement the necessary corrective actions in collaboration with--or on behalf of-- the customer.
- Develop a knowledge base of problems, symptoms, and corrective action, so that both support personnel and FSEs can become more proficient and efficient at resolving similar issues in the future.
- Ensure service personnel are properly trained on these procedures and follow them on a consistent basis.
FSOs that implement these processes and procedures are likely to exhibit better performance when it comes to issues like remote resolution, SLA compliance, and first-time fix rates than those that do not. As a result, they experience higher levels of customer satisfaction. More importantly, they are able to lower costs associated with transportation (i.e. truck rolls) and parts usage.
Ultimately, Knowledge Management (KM) systems play a critical role in helping FSOs achieve this outcome. KM systems facilitate the capture, storage, retrieval, and analysis of diagnostic data. While processes can be developed and people can be trained on how to properly troubleshoot and diagnose service calls, it is technology that facilitates the productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness of the processes and people following them.
Although many FSOs utilize field service software solutions that contain some degree of KM functionality, only 35% of our survey respondents believe these systems are very or extremely effective at capturing critical diagnostic data. This means that a majority of FSOs recognize there is room for improvement. The optimal solution has the ability to capture and retrieve information related to problems/symptoms, cause, and corrective action in a logical or intuitive manner. Indeed, first-time fix and SLA compliance above 95% is not uncommon among FSOs that utilize field service software that includes best of breed KM functionality.
If you have implemented best practices for remote support and are not achieving similar results, you might want to take a deeper look at the system your company is currently using. Perhaps your company is not taking advantage of all the features and functionality in this system? However, if you are utilizing these features and still are not experiencing optimal results then it is probably time to look for a new solution.
This guest blog post was written by Michael R. Blumberg, CMC and President of Blumberg Advisory Group, Inc. Michael is an independent consultant with over twenty years of experience in the Field Service Industry. He is an author and frequent speaker at industry events on issues ranging from sales and marketing to technology to strategy & leadership to operational excellence.