Service intelligence can create efficient, top-notch customer experiences—the sorts of experiences that provide a substantial edge in today’s highly competitive market environment.
Exceptional customer service has always been the key to success for customer-facing organizations. But in challenging economic times, it becomes even more important — organizations must nurture every advantage to stay ahead of competitors. Increasingly, leaders of highly successful field service and technical support teams are relying on service intelligence to create these exceptional customer service experiences while also ensuring they are efficient.
Service intelligence is based on the recognition that any service interaction with customers will generate valuable information: every call with a customer support team, every note on a visit from a field technician, every purchase order for a part, and every record of preventive maintenance or cause of a breakdown. They all create worthwhile data.
The data becomes even more valuable for organizations that also are able to capture the knowledge of their technicians — the real-world domain expertise that’s accumulated through years of experience.
The set of technologies incorporated within service intelligence provide a tool to gather this data, sort it and extrapolate the insights it provides to identify problems and spotlight opportunities. Service intelligence allows managers to see the performance of their teams in real time, helps them spot ongoing problems with equipment or systems, and gives them a good handle on the service experience of their customers.
Evolving beyond BI
Service intelligence software marks an important evolution beyond the traditional business intelligence dashboards found in older field service management software. Those dashboards simply present data. They can’t guide leaders into examining the priorities to improve their teams’ performances, and they can’t pinpoint the causes and solutions to critical business issues.
Service intelligence isn’t reactive; rather, it provides important visibility to leaders about the root causes of issues and provides them with insights about solutions that can be delivered at scale. Unlike earlier dashboards, service intelligence doesn’t require data exports or pivot analysis. They deliver critical information directly to the leaders of service organizations.
Importantly, service intelligence seamlessly combines data with the practical knowledge developed by workers in the field. The result is a comprehensive view that’s delivered in plain language. It allows managers to understand, for instance, why top-performing service technicians are able to complete repairs quickly and at a lower cost than lower-performing workers. It explains why some team members struggle with certain types of products but excel with others. Service intelligence understands organizational data, yes, but it also understands people.
Typically, service intelligence consists of four components:
- Workforce reporting that measures the field performance of each technician and provides guidance about the training needed.
- Asset reporting that tracks the performance of products, identifying potential issues in individual installations and engineering challenges across the installed base.
- Customer success reporting that tracks the customer-service experience of each client and provides early warning of problems that might result in escalated service requirements.
- Troubleshooting and triage tools that technicians can put to use during service calls, making the institutional knowledge of the organization’s most experienced and skilled technicians available to all employees. This is becoming more important with the tsunami of retirements that’s sweeping away decades of experience accumulated by Baby Boomer technicians.
Benefits of service intelligence
Organizations that have adopted service intelligence report five significant benefits:
- Identification of training needs: Service intelligence takes into account all the details surrounding a technician’s performance during a service call — the customer, the product to be serviced, the number of visits that were required, the technique that successfully fixed the problem, the parts that were consumed and more. When the performance of an individual technician is reviewed within the context of group performance, managers can identify the areas in which an individual technician might need a hand. And they can see areas in which group-wide training programs would deliver results.
- Sharper troubleshooting skills among field technicians: Tools to share knowledge across the members of a team are cornerstone components of effective service intelligence. This includes the institutional knowledge of experienced technicians as well as historical service data. With these tools in hand, even less-experienced technicians can deliver top-quality troubleshooting and triage skills when they’re at a customer’s location. And once they’ve identified the problem, technicians across the organization share the best practices required for a cost-effective fix. When service intelligence is used well, entire teams are upskilled. The differences between top-performing technicians and lesser-skilled workers are reduced, and customers receive a more consistent service experience.
- Support of engineering and product teams: The combination of data and technicians’ experience allows product and engineering teams to analyze how products perform, either for an individual customer or across the entire installed base. With these insights, products can be improved to resolve the challenges presented by failing components. The downtime that aggravates customers can be reduced, and operational efficiencies can be improved for customers and the service organization alike.
- A better understanding of the customer experience: Hard data about interactions with a client provides an objective look at the customer experience. Information about success rates, the number of visits required to resolve a problem, the time that’s required for a fix, and the amount of time between calls for service allows service-team leaders to better understand the customer’s perspective. But the value of good service intelligence can be even more profound. Predictive analytics allow service organizations to identify the customers who might become motivated to search for a new supplier of the product or a new organization to provide service. Well-informed leaders can get ahead of problems before they develop.
- A better case for preventative maintenance contracts: When service team leaders understand performance data across customers, products, and team members, they’re better able to analyze their true costs. Presenting these costs, backed by solid data, helps service teams build the case for preventative service agreements with customers.
Creating a competitive advantage
Most service organizations are already collecting some amount of performance data. Service intelligence, however, substantially widens and improves data collection, combining it with the knowledge that accumulates through the experience of the workforce and presenting insights in plain language that leaders can put to use.
With easy access to holistic metrics that do more than report past trends, service leaders can make decisions to improve key areas of their business. Service intelligence helps organizations identify cost drivers, improve efficiency, develop strategies to optimize service delivery, and generate prescriptive insights that allow them to nip potential problems in the bud. It’s helping to develop training programs for individual workers and entire teams.
Most critically, service intelligence is creating efficient, top-notch customer experiences—the sorts of experiences that provide a substantial edge in today’s highly competitive market environment.