Posted tagged ‘mobile’

5 Key Areas to Maximize Service Excellence

September 24, 2014

Tomorrow I’m hosting a webinar at 10am PT, “5 Key Areas to Maximize Service Excellence,” based on a joint white paper I’m working on with Astea International. The paper has the same title along with this subtitle: “Hot Trends and Investment Areas Every Field Service Executive Should Leverage.” There are so many industry forces driving change to field service operations, and in this short 30 minute webinar, Debbie Geiger from Astea and myself will talk about the top five areas impacting field teams. The five areas are:

  • Talent management. With companies reporting as much as 40% of their service workforce will be retiring in the next five years, field service has an opportunity to rethink organizational design and processes.
  • Mobility and wearable devices. Early adopters of mobile tools and applications for field service technicians are already realizing benefits to productivity, operational quality and cost.
  • Knowledge management and collaboration. Strategies for knowledge sharing and real-time peer collaboration in the field.
  • Internet of Things. Today’s increasingly connected technology creates opportunities for remote access, improving productivity and reducing onsite visits.
  • Expand selling. Leveraging industry trends to introduce upsell/cross-sell strategies, as well as introduce more premium service options.

Not only will we share some industry data to explain the impacts of these hot topics, including some brand new TSIA data showing the business impact of mobile tools for field service, but we’ll hear from Debbie how some Astea customers are harnessing these trends to generate business value, from increased productivity and lower fleet costs to increased revenue.

As a thank you for attending tomorrow’s webinar, we will send you a link to download the white paper when it is published in the next 1-2 weeks. If you work in field service, or are interesting in industry trends driving change to service operations, please click on this link to register:

Thanks for reading, and hope to see you in the audience tomorrow!


Providing Mobile Devices for Service Employees: Mixing Business and Pleasure

September 26, 2013

I have a dear friend who is a retired teacher, a former “Teacher of the Year” in Santa Clara County. One of his pet peeves is hearing business people talk about how easy it would be to overhaul public schools if only they would “run their schools like a business.” From this I’ve learned not to offer much advice in the area of education, since I have no expertise in this area. However, after reading today about how Los Angeles schools are having a crisis because it took just a week for nearly 300 students who got iPads from their high school to figure out how to alter the security settings so they could surf the web and access social media sites, I had to weigh in.

With apologies to my friend Matt, I have to say: schools should really take a lesson from business on this issue.

One of the biggest trends over the last 2 years has been the adoption of smartphones and tablet devices by technology firms, providing their field service employees with mobile devices and applications. Armed with these tools, field techs have real-time access to corporate info, entitlement data, trouble shooting videos, knowledgebases, and collaboration tools so employees can easily interact with team members when stuck on a problem.

I’ve had conversations with dozens of companies wondering if they should “lock” the devices to limit personal use of the web, email, social channels, etc. I think this is a terrible idea, and let me tell you why.

One of the greatest examples I’ve seen about this came from ServiceMax, a cloud based field service automation provider, who I’ve frequently written about because they have the sexiest iPad application for service I’ve seen to date. Making a decision to roll out iPads to your field techs is not that different from making a decision to roll them out to high schoolers: the devices are very expensive, and these users are hard on devices. A major hurdle companies must overcome is how do we get the users to treat the devices with care, using them as needed for work while making sure they aren’t cracking screens and demanding replacements every week?

For one ServiceMax customer, this was an easy problem to solve, and the model they used is one I recommend frequently to companies starting this journey. In the initial rollout, this tech firm bought 500 iPads for their field team. With the cheapest iPad with wifi/cellular connection costing $629, this was a $30,000 expense even before you add on extended warranties and sales tax. How did they make sure the employees would take care of the devices so they would last in the rough-and-tumble world of field workers?  Here’s what they did:

Instead of trying to block access to capabilities of the iPad not required for their job, they got all the field techs together, gave them all a brand new iPad, and said, “These are your babies. If you want to check your personal email or browse a website, knock yourself out. If you want to use the device at home for games or social media, knock yourself out. But you are responsible for these devices. Take care of them as you would a personal device. As long as you use the tool to do your job, we’ll let you use it for your personal use as well.”

As a result, the workers felt like they were getting a bonus. Not only were they quick to adopt and use the ServiceMax iPad application for receiving their appointments and logging work performed, they bent over backwards to take care of the devices and protect them from damage.

If you think blocking iPad capabilities is keeping employees (or students) focused on work, don’t be ridiculous. They have their personal smartphones they can use to access the web or social media any time they want. What you are actually doing is giving them a $629 device which they will resent, and not treat well. As a result, you will see lower adoption of the device and applications, you will have a much higher rate of lost and damaged devices, and a much more expensive and less effective mobile program in the long term. In other words, get ready to hear, “My dog ate my iPad.”

My advice to the LA schools is this: if you want to tightly control how students use mobile devices, buy them calculators. They only cost 99 cents at Walgreens. If you want to mobile-enable your students, establish rules about the use of internet and social during school hours–on any device–and stick to it. But don’t give them this amazing tool and then say, “You can’t use it to do what it was designed for.”

I also think Apple and Google should be talking to these students. Sounds like you have some great future engineers ready for internships.

BTW, I’ll be speaking at the ServiceMax Maximize conference next week in San Francisco at the Westin St. Francis, hope to see you there! And as always, thanks for reading!

Five Drivers Enabling the Field Service Mobile Revolution: Webcast Thursday!

March 20, 2012

By now, everyone has seen the video making the rounds of the FedEx delivery person throwing a computer over a fence. This video has sparked a lot of discussion with TSIA members on the role of field service in improving the customer experience. Unlike support techs who work with customers over the phone or via email, field service has an amazing opportunity to dazzle customers since they are face-to-face with the customer in their home or office for a repair or installation.

What can we do to improve the field service experience, make field service techs more professional,  and hopefully leave every customer dazzled? Mobility is driving a new breed of field service automation, with huge impacts to customer satisfaction, loyalty and repurchase rates.

Tune in this Thursday at 10am PT for a new webcast on one of the hottest topics today: service mobility. The webcast, “The 5 Drivers of Field Service Mobility” is sponsored by ServiceMax (who, by the way, has the coolest iPad field service application you’ve ever seen–here’s a link to an online demo).

In this short 30 minute mini-cast, I will talk about the five key drivers enabling the mass adoption of mobile tools for field service:

• Device cost and availability.
• User adoption and ease of use.
• Improved operational metrics and revenue generation.
• Architecting the customer experience.
• Increased employee collaboration.

I will provide details, supporting data, and examples for each. I’ll also give a sneak preview of some data from my 2012 Services Technology Survey to illustrate how adoption of mobile tools is climbing, and talk about where the ROI comes from these strategic projects.

I have also been working with ServiceMax on a joint research paper on this topic, which will be released in the next few weeks (target date April 1). Even if you aren’t available to attend this Thursday’s webcast, go ahead and register. We will send  you a link to download all the slides from the webcast, and to watch an OnDemand version of the webcast when you have time. And, as a registered participant, you will automatically receive a copy of the joint research paper when it is published in April. What a win-win!

Thanks for reading, and hope to see you online Thursday morning!

Video’s Impact on Service’s Future: KM, Education, and Customer Interactions

October 25, 2011

Today at TSIA’s Technology Services World Conference in Las Vegas, I held my “Power Hour” session entitled, “The Impacts of Video on Service’s Future,” a panel discussion with Jennifer MacIntosh, Global Director, Knowledge Management, Yahoo; Radha Penekelapati, Director, Global Support Operations,; and Phil Verghis, Founder and President, The Verghis Group. Also today my paper on the topic was published to the TSIA website.

Video is an incredibly powerful medium that is already changing the face of service operations, but the impact will be even greater in the future, as video becomes even more widely adopted, including the enablement of face-to-face customer service interactions. By combining rich information with a visual demonstration, videos are able to more clearly illustrate information and processes so viewers instantly understand a concept or can follow along to complete a complex process.

The massive popularity of online video sites such as YouTube have helped drive down the cost of video production. While in years past videos required expensive equipment and a production team, today you can create a video using your built-in webcam and free video software, or using screen capture software already installed on many corporate desktops. The YouTube generation knows that content is more important than high production values. Video is impacting service in three primary areas.

  • Knowledge management. Video content to augment or replace knowledgebase articles has already emerged as a best practice, with TSIA members adding video libraries to self-service sites as well as creating dedicated YouTube channels for technology “how to” videos.
  • Education. Video content for employee and customer education is available, but so far without large-scale adoption. Not only is creating an online video training library that can be streamed to an employee or customer desktop less expensive than traditional classroom training, it is also proving more effective, especially with younger demographics.
  • Service interactions. While there are only early examples, the future of customer service interactions will radically change with the introduction of video interactions between customer and support technician, not only streamlining problem resolution but also boosting the relationship factor with accounts.

Service organizations need to evaluate how early adopters are leveraging video effectively for knowledge management, education, and support interactions, and create a roadmap for the use of video in their operations. For conference attendees, you will recieve an email t0night with a link to rate the sessions you attended today, and to download all presentation materials–including video examples from Salesforce and Yahoo.

Thanks for reading!

Meeting the needs of remote and mobile workers

November 4, 2009

I am preparing for tomorrow’s webcast, “Developing a Support Strategy that Embraces Change in Today’s Increasingly Remote Workforce,” and though we don’t have a tremendous amount of data on the topic–YET–in the TSIA benchmark, I have found lots of interesting data from the US Department of Labor and various research groups who graciously shared their findings.  This is an interesting topic because it impacts support in multiple ways:

  • Technical support and call centers have growing percentages of employees working from home, and old approaches to training, coaching and monitoring don’t work.
  • Our customers are becoming more mobile, and assumptions about devices and support processes don’t meet the needs of these customers.
  • IT support is also struggling, as more complex applications are available on mobile devices, meaning your IT help desk needs new skills and tools to support the mobile workforce.

There are lots of benefits to remote workers, and during the webcast I’ll give some survey data on this, covering everything from cost savings (no facilities costs) to increased employee satisfaction to support of Green initiatives.  But what I hear from TSIA members is the pool of possible employees is much larger and better when remote is an option: According to Gartner Inc., 70-80% of home-based agents have college degrees, compared with 30-40% of workers in conventional call centers.

I’ve done a number of webcasts in the past on mobile applications  (including Increasing Field Service Productivity and Profits With Mobile Automation Tools and Take the Mobile Field Service Challenge), and last week I blogged about how SAP is seeing wide adoption of their CRM tools on multiple mobile devices and platforms. Just check out the iPhone AppStore and see the growing number of enterprise application vendors offering iPhone apps to access your corporate data: Oracle, SAP and Salesforce are just three examples.

Clearly customers expect seamless support regardless of what device or platform they are using, and that is putting pressure on support teams when their tools and processes only address applications running on a desktop.  We don’t have all the answers yet, but I hope you will make time for this webcast to learn what to expect and some tips to setting up your mobile and remote strategy. Register here: If you aren’t able to attend the live event, go ahead and register–we’ll send you a link to the OnDemand version later this week.

Cheers, and thanks for reading!