Strategies For Growth Announces Launch of Its Third Annual Warranty Management Benchmark Survey Update and Workshop Session

Westtown, PA., January 19, 2017 – Bill Pollock, President & Principal Consulting Analyst, Strategies for GrowthSM (SFGSM), the Westtown, Pennsylvania-based research and consulting organization, today announced the launch of the firm’s third annual Warranty Management Benchmark Survey Update.

The survey will be running “live” through the third week of February, and a summary of the results will be presented as part of Pollock’s Pre-Conference Workshop Session at the 2017 Warranty Chain Management (WCM) Conference to be held on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, in Tucson, Arizona. The two-day WCM Conference itself will follow on March 8 – 9, 2017.

Pollock’s Workshop Session, entitled “Leveraging Effective Warranty Management into Improved Customer Satisfaction and Profitability”, will share both information and guidance based on insights derived from the data collected from the more than 100 Warranty Services professionals who are expected to take part in SFGSM‘s 2017 Warranty Management Benchmark Survey Update.

According to Pollock, who also blogs regularly via his www.PollockOnService.com Blogsite, “Research like this makes for invaluable assets that are foundational to organizational best practices with regard to warranty chain management. In this session we will share findings from our 2017 Warranty Chain Management Benchmark Survey Update that identify the top drivers, strategic actions, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and emerging technologies that are pushing Warranty Management Organizations to aspire to attain higher levels of performance.”

Led by Pollock, the Workshop Session will present fresh insights on the current state of the Warranty Chain Management industry, and how Best Practices services organizations are able to differentiate themselves from all others. The session will also help participants learn:

  • What Services Organizations are doing to attain Best Practices status with respect to Warranty Chain Management
  • What leading Warranty Services Organizations are doing to attain the highest levels of Customer Satisfaction and Service Profitability
  • What is driving the Warranty Services market to aspire to higher levels of performance, and what challenges they are likely to face in doing so
  • How to emulate the strategic and tactical actions presently being taken and/or planned by the leading Warranty Services organizations

To participate in SFGSM‘s 2017 Warranty Management Benchmark Survey Update, respondents may simply click on the following Weblink: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2017SFGWCM.

All participants that provide their name, title, company, e-mail address and phone number, will also receive a link to a complimentary copy of the Executive Summary, to be made available shortly following the WCM Conference.

For more information, or to register for Pollock’s Workshop Session, please visit the 2017 WCM Conference website at: www.warrantyconference.com.

Also, please be sure to watch for more information from the SFGSM survey results in upcoming issues of Warranty Week: www.warrantyweek.com.

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Transforming Market Research into Customer Satisfaction and Retention

Leveraging Market Research into Customer Satisfaction

Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary defines market research as ”the investigation and analysis of consumer needs and opinions about goods and services”. However, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, market research is defined more as “the gathering and evaluation of data regarding consumers’ preferences for products and services.” Thefreedictionary.com complicates matters by defining it as “research that gathers and analyzes information about the moving of good(s) or services from producer to consumer”.

While the three of these distinguished resources provide different “takes” on what market research really is, we prefer to define it essentially as the sum of all three, taking into consideration each of the implicitly stated nuances, by defining it as: “the data collection, analysis and assessment relating to customer needs, requirements, preferences, expectations and perceptions with respect to the goods and services they acquire and use”. In this way, we believe that market research can always be relied on as a tool to support a service organization’s ability to measure, gauge and assess what it will take to understand its customers – and ultimately keep them satisfied and loyal.

We prefer to define Market Research as the data collection, analysis and assessment relating to customer needs, requirements, preferences, expectations and perceptions with respect to the goods and services they acquire and use.”

Regardless of which of these definitions you prefer, one thing remains perfectly clear – market research is a powerful tool that can be used to:

  • Collect and analyze all of the data and information you need to understand your market better, and make your products and services more appealing to your customer base
  • Assist you in identifying and prioritizing market targets that can be exploited to meet your business development goals
  • Provide a foundation upon which all of your customer-focused activities may be supported, measured and tracked
  • Enable you to define, quantify and articulate specific goals and objectives to all affected parties – internal & external
  • Support your ability to measure, monitor and track your customer relationship management successes (and failures) on an ongoing basis.

Measuring Customer Satisfaction Is Important; But, How Do You Do It?

Many services managers mistakenly use “customer satisfaction” and “customer retention” as interchangeable terms; however, they are two entirely separate and distinct things. Customer satisfaction is, basically, “keeping your customers happy”. However, even satisfied customers may consider switching providers for better prices, greater coverage, or just because “it’s time”, etc. As a result, the best way to define customer retention is essentially as “keeping your customers – customers”.

Among the most commonly used alternative measures, or surrogates, for tracking customer satisfaction are typically things like:

  • Increased sales/account revenues,
  • Increased profitability,
  • Repeat services sales/contract renewals, or
  • Improved levels of customer retention.

However, not all of these measures may be either relevant – or accurate, as:

  • Sales/account revenues may be growing more as a result of inflation and/or increasing services prices, rather than as an indicator of customer satisfaction;
  • Increased profitability may be more a result of improved internal services operations and/or cost-cutting, than anything the organization has done to make its customers happier;
  • Repeat services sales may be more the result of customers feeling “locked in” to existing service contracts, or believing it will be easier to “re-up” with your organization than it will be for them to find a new vendor; and
  • Customers may stay with you longer than they want, simply because it is easier than switching.

As such, the primary goals of a Customer Satisfaction research program should primarily be to:

  • Identify the specific product and service attributes that are proven to be important to customers;
  • Provide baseline measurements of both importance and satisfaction for future trend comparisons;
  • Determine the relative strengths/weaknesses of the organization’s current products, services and support offerings;
  • Identify the critical areas requiring improvement;
  • Collect data that can be used to set targets and goals; and
  • Provide a scientific and statistically valid means for measuring and tracking customer satisfaction over time.

Where Should You Focus Your Market Research Efforts?

In considering launching a new (or refining an existing) customer satisfaction/market research program within your organization, there are essentially four questions that you will first need to answer. They are:

  1. Does your organization already have a formal customer satisfaction measurement and tracking program in place? Is your survey research plan designed to yield the specific types of outcomes that are needed to support the organization’s business development plan?
  • Some organizations have no formal customer satisfaction measuring & tracking program; surveys are performed only on an ad hoc basis – if at all!
  • As a result, customer service improvements are probably not supported in a consistent manner, or with all of the necessary data and information to justify making changes – in fact, some problems may go unnoticed, and realistic priorities may not be easily set.
  • If the research plan is not specifically designed to support the subsequent action plan, then you may end up not collecting adequate information to make key decisions.
  1. Should we conduct our customer surveys internally, or should we use an outside market research/consulting firm to design, conduct and analyze our surveys? Which methodology will yield more actionable results? Which way is better?
  • By conducting your customer surveys internally, you may lose the perception of objectivity and, thus, credibility; plus, you run the risk of administering what may appear to your customers to be either an “unprofessional”, incomplete – or even worse – misdirected survey.
  • An outside market research firm generally has the ability to design, execute and analyze surveys more efficiently than your own organization – and can maintain an entirely objective posture throughout the course of the research (e.g., collecting and analyzing responses, providing customer feedback, etc.).
  • Most internally conducted customer surveys turn out to be little more than exercises in public relations, and generate neither statistically valid nor actionable survey outcomes; especially in cases where your service performance is poor, or major improvements are required, it is generally better to go outside.
  1. What type of survey methodology should we use? In person, telephone, mail, e-mail, or a combination of methodologies? How can we tell what will work best with our particular mix of services offerings and customer base?
  • Alternative survey methodologies may reflect substantially different levels of costs, coverage, response rates, statistical reliability and skewness, effectiveness, usability of outcomes, and applicability to the overall business plan.
  • Accordingly, the methodology you choose will dictate – to some degree – the likelihood of generating actionable survey outcomes.
  • E-mail surveys have become relatively inexpensive to conduct, but may not always be the best way to reach all of the customer base that you want to reach; telephone and mail still represent alternative methodologies for some organizations.
  1. Should we be surveying our existing customers, or should we be focusing more on surveying the market prospects that we hope to convert to customers in the future? Where should we be focusing our market and survey research efforts in the short term?
  • The answer is “yes” – to both!
  • In general, customers always come first – you cannot afford to lose the customers you already have (for any number of reasons).
  • However, you may also want to survey the general market base (i.e., prospects) in terms of their awareness and perceptions of your organization, as well as the likelihood of their buying/acquiring your products and services in the future.
  • As a surrogate, you can also survey “New Wins” and “Lost” Prospects” in combination with existing customers to determine what brought them in – or what drove them away – in addition to what makes them happy.

Regardless of which research methodologies you ultimately choose, there are certain guidelines that must also be followed as you begin to collecting the desired customer data and information:

  • First and foremost, do not abuse your customers. Don’t survey them day-in and day-out; they are not on your payroll!
  • Focus on the “need-to-know”, rather than the “nice-to-know”. “Need-to-know” data will always pay off in the long-term, whereas “nice-to-know” data can be particularly expensive if you ultimately do not get much of a return for the amount of time and money you have invested in the research.
  • Collect as much customer data as you can internally, from as many sources as possible, including service activity reports, call logs, call center metrics, KPIs, etc. However, you must remember that while internally collected data is your “reality”; it will be “perceptions” that are your customers’ “reality”. You will need to carefully reconcile these two often disparate sets of objective and subjective findings.
  • Use complementary methods of data collection wherever possible:
  • Ongoing communications is a two-way street; stop … and listen.
  • Get everyone involved – sales and service reps, CSRs, Managers.
  • Utilize trade shows, seminars, workshops, webinars, users groups.
  • Leverage Blogs, tweets, newsletters, e-mails, Website – all with “real” feedback channels.

Once you get started, the key areas you will need to address as part of the customer satisfaction measurement and tracking process will include:

  • Customer attitudes and perceptions toward the importance of the products, services and support they are using, and the levels of performance they are receiving from your organization.
  • Identification and ratings of the principal selection and evaluation factors customers use to rate those services.
  • Customer needs and requirements for those services in total, as well as by key customer/vertical market segments.
  • Levels of satisfaction with your organization’s performance, identification of areas where improvements are required, and what it would take to become their “Total Services Provider”.

Among the key questions that will need to be answered from the results of the customer survey analysis are:

  • How satisfied are your customers with the organization’s existing portfolio of products, services and support?
  • What additional areas of service and support do they need, want, or expect?
  • What can be done to improve current levels of customer satisfaction?
  • How can your organization become more responsive to the needs of its customers?
  • What areas need to be specifically addressed in order to provide customers with “total service and support”?
  • Who makes the decision to purchase your company’s products and services? What message do they need to hear?
  • What are the primary, secondary and peripheral factors used by customers to evaluate service performance?
  • Are all of your customers’ needs being met? To what degree? What are your specific (and relative) strengths and weaknesses?
  • How vulnerable is the organization to losing customers to the competition? For what reasons? How can this be avoided?

What Are Some of the Potential Outcomes of Conducting Market Research?

The key outcomes of a baseline Customer Satisfaction survey program would be the strategic identification, analysis, assessment and profiling of your organization’s existing customer base, in total, and by principal customer market segments, including:

  • Determination of the principal purchase decision makers
  • Relative importance and “weights” of key services attributes
  • Satisfaction with the quality of your products, services and support
  • Correlations between product and service quality, and their
  • respective impacts on overall service performance satisfaction
  • Satisfaction with your organization’s pricing perceived value
  • Perceptions of customer loyalty to the organization
  • Customer usage/purchasing patterns
  • Other key factors likely to impact customer satisfaction

Other key market/business development factors that can also be examined include:

  • Principal types of products/services being used/planned
  • Plans for future purchases/upgrades/migrations
  • Primary “value-added” features used/required
  • Factors of importance used to select/evaluate vendors
  • Satisfaction with present product/service providers
  • Loyalty to present vendors likelihood to switch
  • Overall awareness/perceptions of the organization’s total portfolio of products, services and support offerings
  • Others, TBD

When conducted on a routine, periodic basis, tracking customer satisfaction over time can provide:

  • A comprehensive benchmark, or baseline, analysis, complemented by regular tracking/trend survey “waves”
  • A series of detailed analyses that explain key patterns, trends and areas requiring improvement over time
  • Executive-level management reports and trendsheets that address key patterns and their strategic implications
  • Identification of specific problem areas and recommendations for improving levels of customer satisfaction
  • The ability to develop both strategic and tactical “fixes”, both in total, and by individual customer/vertical segments

Knowing your customers can be an extremely effective marketing tool. The more you know about your customers, the more responsive you can be to their needs and requirements. In fact, we believe that you can never know too much about your customers. Your customers will tell you when they are satisfied, and when they are not; but you have to ask them directly, as they may not always volunteer to provide this information.

That is why customer survey research is so important – because, if you do not regularly ask your customers about their specific needs and requirements, they may think you are either uninterested or – even worse -– incapable of performing better.

The applications and uses of Customer Satisfaction survey results are multifold, including:

  • To establish a formal input/feedback mechanism to obtain critical data/information directly from customers
  • To use satisfaction trend data to improve, or otherwise modify, existing product, service and support features
  • To use the specific results of the survey as marketing tools (e.g., publish an article in a services trade journal, offer a “white paper” on the Web, integrate results into company marketing collateral, etc.)
  • To use the statistical findings, verbatim quotes or other survey results in promotional materials, handouts or mailings

The following represent just the “tip of the iceberg” with respect to what some of your peers have already been able to accomplish:

  • A Help Desk Software company combined a joint User Needs & Requirements Assessment/Satisfaction Survey with a New “Win”/“Lost” Prospects Survey to identify the differences in the way they support existing customers how they attract “new” ones (and also “lose” some along the way).
  • A High-Tech OEM conducted an in-depth, qualitative survey among its machine operators to identify whether both their key product and technical support issues were being adequately addressed – and coordinated.
  • A CRM Software company established a baseline survey, and then tracked changes in its service delivery performance over a 3-year period until all of its quantitative goals for performance improvement had been met.
  • A Medical Device company conducted concurrent surveys of prospects who chose them their competitors to identify patterns of vendor selection criteria and any potential “kick-out” factors that may have been driving some prospects away.
  • A “Brand Name” Third Party Services company conducted routine competitive intelligence updates used to “spin off” competitive vendor New Service Product Action/Reaction reports to assist its services sales force.
  • A Field Service Management (FSM) solution company conducted vertical market research to identify and prioritize new (to them) verticals to target for future business development.
  • A Print/Publishing OEM surveyed customers of a company they planned to acquire to see whether there was a “match” between the two customer bases in terms of customer needs and requirements for the merged service product offerings.

All told, there are dozens of different customer satisfaction- and retention-related issues that can best be identified, measured and analyzed through a specific market research program. As such, the versatility of market research should never be understated, as it can be as narrowly or broadly defined, as necessary; as formal or informal, as required; as expensive or inexpensive, as the budget permits; and as general or customized, as is required.

Summary

In summary, there is a big difference between merely “keeping your customers satisfied” and “keeping your customers – period!” We believe that only by conducting an appropriate series of market research activities can you keep sufficiently up-to-date with the market’s evolving needs and requirements for service, and their corresponding levels of customer satisfaction with their vendors.

Similarly, only by conducting ongoing competitive intelligence research can you fully understand how your organization is positioned in the overall marketplace, and how it can best compete in an intensifying competitive environment. And, only by conducting periodic customer satisfaction measurement and tracking surveys can you measure your own organization’s performance over time, and make the necessary changes to keep your customers satisfied and loyal.

No services organization ever went bankrupt as a result of investing money in market research that delivered actionable results, and provided a positive return on investment (ROI). It is only those organizations that have wrongly invested a great deal of money in “untested” areas that could have been better served by conducting the appropriate market research first.

“7 Simple Strategies to Increase Revenue in 2016” – Our Take

[The following is a transcript of the “One Simple Strategy Recommended for Increasing Revenue in 2016” material we submitted to Field Service Digital in response to their request. The full interview was published in the December 18, 2015 issue of the magazine; however, only some of this material actually made the cut (i.e., there are six other industry experts who also had their say in the Field Service Digital piece).

Read our response first, then read the Field Service Digital piece to gain a perspective from among the seven of us. A link to the magazine is provided at the end of our Blog, for your convenience.]

One Simple Strategy to Increase Services Revenue in 2016

“The best services strategies are typically the simplest ones – particularly the ones that target improved service revenues and profitability. But, whatever the strategy, it should always follow a process of ‘Measure, Assess, Adjust & Track’ (MAA&T). What that means is, whether you’re looking at overall service operations, or individual components of service, such as warranty management, parts/inventory management, customer relationship management, or the like, you will need to, first, measure where you stand today, how you got there, and where you’re likely to end up if nothing else changes; second, assess what needs to be changed, modified, upgraded or replaced; third, make the necessary adjustments to facilitate – and in many cases, expedite – change, as appropriate; and fourth, track your progress over time as you implement new and/or revised processes, policies and procedures, or new technologies.

Supported through the ongoing review of input and feedback, the process then starts all over again on a virtual continuous loop, thereby fostering continuous quality improvement that goes directly to the bottom line.

Using warranty management as an example, a sound strategy might be to (1) measure its current contribution to the bottom line in terms of revenue generation and profitability, (2) assess alternative scenarios for process improvement; (3) make changes to the current program to stimulate improved revenue generation; and (4) track your progress over time. Then, you start all over again!

The old adage goes something like, “You can’t know how much you’ve improved if you don’t know where you’ve come from” clearly supports the MAA&T approach. And the ability to continue cycling through the process time after time allows this strategic approach to foster continuous quality improvement.”

[To read the full Field Service Digital article for which this information was prepared, please visit: http://fieldservice.com/2015/12/18/7-simple-strategies-increase-revenue-2016/.]

3D Printing and The Future Of Field Service

[The following is a transcript of the 3D Printing-related material we submitted to Field Technologies in response to their request. The full article was published in the August 24, 2015 issue of the magazine; however, only some of this material actually made the cut (i.e., there are three other industry experts who also had their say in the Field Technologies piece).

Read our responses first, then read the Field Technologies piece to gain a perspective from among the four of us. A link is provided at the end of our Blog, for your convenience.]

What’s the Buzz about 3D Printing?

The thoughts about the buzz surrounding 3D printing’s use in field service are reminiscent of a similar buzz about RFIDs some years ago. Everybody is talking about 3D printing in terms of “Is it for real”, “Is it affordable?”, “Is it practical?” and “When will it be readily available?” And, of course, the answers to all of these questions are “yes”, and “now!”

As was in the earlier case with RFIDs, while everybody continued talking about the what, where and when of its ultimate adoption by the industry, the technology simply kept rolling out, first among the more progressive organizations (i.e., either on their own, or by the “mandate” of some of the larger, market leading organizations such as Walmart). However, while the debate raged on, the market seemed to embrace the “new” technology without much fanfare, on a steady and nicely paced-out basis. Before the less progressive organizations in the marketplace even knew it, RFIDs became fairly ubiquitous – and I see the same adoption scenario for 3D printing as well.

There are, however, some important differences that distinguish 3D printing from other “new” technologies. For example, the cost for implementing a global 3D printing capability is far more expensive than it was/is for an RFID network. Accordingly, while field service organizations of all types and sizes could launch an RFID solution fairly inexpensively, 3D printing – at least for the moment – may find itself used more prolifically by larger organizations at the start.

Further, RFID solutions are typically designed and implemented for the masses – that is, to track a large variety of products, parts and components in the field; whereas 3D printing – at least so far – is designed primarily for the special needs of organizations that cannot easily, or cost-effectively, stock infrequently-used parts, parts in remote places, or deal with the logistics of a growing installed base under their current management and support.

In any event, the buzz is certainly warranted! 3D printing is quickly becoming an important component of large organizations’ parts management programs and, as the cost for implementation and maintenance decreases over time, it will likely spread throughout the field service industry as more and more uses come to the forefront. Once again, while we’re all still talking about it, others are doing something about it! It’s already here!

What are Some of the Potential Use Cases for 3D Printing in Field Service?

It seems like services organizations have been forever struggling with the best way to manage spare parts availability and accessibility. For many, 3D printing can assist in both of these areas.

For decades, many services organizations have used the 80/20 rule when it comes to parts planning for the field. That is, have the field technicians carry the 80 percent of the most commonly used parts in their van, and maintain a stash of the 20 percent less frequently-used parts in a regional or national hub with availability via overnight delivery.

Over the years, this 80/20 rule may have morphed to a 60/40 or even a 50/50 rule for some organizations, due to increasing parts, inventory and logistics costs. However, even at these lower ratios, the associated costs for managing parts inventory have skyrocketed. As such, many organizations have been looking for alternative means by which they could still provide the necessary parts to their field technicians, cut the time required for accessing these parts, and getting the customer’s equipment back up and running as soon as possible. For many, 3D printing is not merely the best solution – it is the only solution!

Among the most attractive potential uses of 3D printing is the ability to print parts for users at remote locations, thereby cutting the time to complete the repair from several days to within hours. While the customary remote locations most often cited are typically somewhere in the plains of the great southwest, or the snow-covered northwest provinces of Canada, as the world market for field service support continues to grow exponentially, virtually any location not situated near a commercial hub may nowadays be considered as a “remote location”.

Perhaps the greatest remote location currently supported “in the field” is the International Space Station (ISS), which has already had several parts printed in deep space – along with some of the tools required to put them in their place! Talk about an otherwise expensive “truck roll!”

In some cases, the most intriguing uses of 3D printing in field service have come in the aerospace segment. In addition to NASA, the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force (RAF) has also used 3D printing to print components such as protective covers for cockpit radios and guards for power take-off shafts, resulting in cost savings of more than £300,000 (US$491,364) since adopting the technology, with another £1.2 million in savings expected by 2017. Rolls Royce is also using 3D printing to provide parts for its jet engines.

Further, as driverless cars begin entering the marketplace, empowered by the Internet of Things (IoT), what would make more sense than supporting these new technology transportation systems with 3D-printed parts? This, and other “new” applications of technology, will likely provide a significant breeding ground for highlighting the use of 3D-printed parts and components.

What Benefits Could 3D Printing Bring to the Field Service Industry?

The proliferation of 3D printing is not only limited to the manufacture of parts and components, but, even more importantly, to the design and refinement of these items before they even see the light of day in the marketplace. For example, according to Forbes, GE has developed a “radical new fuel injection systems for a jet engine” initially designed and built from an industrial 3D metal printer. Previously, the system had “21 separate parts, which needed to be produced, shipped to the same location, and then assembled.” However, the 3D-printed system has only one part – but is five times stronger, resulting in increased fuel efficiency of 15 percent, or just over US$1 million per year – per plane!

While most people look to the availability of parts for remote locations to represent the major benefit of using 3D printing, it is more likely that the most beneficial attributes will be manifested through advances in design and engineering (i.e., more easily demonstrable “what-if” scenarios, quicker design-to-test times, reduced R& D costs, etc.). However, where 3D printing could potentially be most disruptive (i.e., borrowing from the terminology normally associated with the IoT), is in the areas of how future design and engineering operations will be staffed and funded (i.e., less people and less funding needed?); the ability to make parts, components and systems less complex and more efficient (e.g., one part, rather than 21 parts, etc.); and the simplification of the overall parts supply chain (i.e., the reduction – or elimination – of some of the channel players currently involved in parts management and logistics, etc.). In fact, the entire parts supply chain could find itself disrupted by this new technology.

Do you See this Trend Taking Off? Why or Why Not? If So, When or How Rapidly?

This trend is already taking off! The early adopters have already been quite successful in implementing solutions that save time, save money, streamline the service supply chain and keep customers happy. If managed properly, this could be both the CSO’s and the CFO’s dream come true!

As more and more consumers learn more about 3D printing from features in trade journals like Field Technologies, through various LinkedIn posts and via social media, the push toward adoption is likely to get stronger.

It also won’t be long before consumers will be able to print their own souvenirs at seaside resorts or tourist attractions – you can even print your own life-size Paul McCartney figure. The double-sided push and promotion of 3D printing through both the commercial and consumer channels will likely lead to a higher demand for the technology as well.

Are You Aware of any Real-World Examples of How 3D Printing Is Successfully Being Used in Field Service Today?

So far, most industry observers have been focusing on the most dramatic uses of 3D printing to convey to the marketplace. However, the real story is the one unfolding at many organizations around the world who are finding that they can employ this new technology not only to save logistics and transportation costs, but design and engineering costs as well.

3D printing is not only to be used for manufacturing parts, but for the printing of the tools that are used to install them. It will also be used in the back rooms with respect to design, engineering and applications.

With the great success already experienced in, arguably, one of the most demanding vertical segments (i.e., aerospace, aviation, etc.) it will only be a matter of time before usage becomes even more widespread throughout all major services segments. Currently, people are using 3D printing to print complete homes, cars – and, yes, even Beatles! With great interest expressed by both the commercial and consumer segments, the receptivity to the use of 3D printing in both the B2B and B2C segments is likely to remain strong.

What other Comments Do You Have about 3D Printing that Our Readers Should Be Aware Of?

Of course, before any “new” technology can be successfully embraced by the marketplace, it must also be properly packaged, promoted and marketed. One trend that I foresee in the not-too-distant future is the packaging of product sales and service, in a 3D-delivered world. For example, the customer (i.e., business or consumer) would buy the 3D-printed product, and sign on for an extended warranty program based on 3D-printed service and support. It even sounds like they should be packaged together!

Oh – and by-the-way, while you’ve been reading this, more organizations have silently embedded 3D printing into their core service and support offerings (along with RFIDs)! Just saying!

[To read the Field Technologies article for which this information was prepared, please visit: http://www.fieldtechnologiesonline.com/doc/d-printing-and-the-future-of-field-service-0001.]

Invitation to Join Our Complimentary Warranty Management Webcast on February 11, 2015

We invite you to join our complimentary Webcast on “Effective Warranty Management for Improved Customer Satisfaction and Profitability” on Wednesday, February 11, 2015, from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EST.

Bill Pollock, president and principal consulting analyst at Strategies For Growth (SFG℠) will be the featured presenter, sharing data and insight from the firm’s recently completed Warranty Chain Management Benchmark Survey.

The Webcast will be hosted by Tavant Technologies, a global Warranty Chain Management solution provider.

To register for Webcast, please go to the complimentary Registration Landing Page at: http://info.tavant.com/Warranty_Webinar.html

Also, in case you missed it, you may use this Weblink to access our feature article in the latest issue of Warranty Week magazine: https://lnkd.in/bT-wZJF.

Finally, be sure to register for the 2015 WCM Conference, March 10 – 12, in Miami, Florida where I will be presenting a three-hour pre-conference Workshop on Tuesday morning, March 10, entitled, “Leveraging Effective Warranty Management into Improved Customer Satisfaction and Profitability in 2015,”

To register for this workshop, please go to: http://www.warrantyconference.com/workshops.html.

I hope to see you at all of these venues!

Christmas, Hanukah and Holiday Greetings to All Our Services Community Friends & Connections

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the site
not a system went down; every unit worked right.

The technicians were happy; their help desk was live.
And the customers were, too (between 9 am and 5!).

When out on the street, a van pulled to the door,
and a field tech arrived to do PM (and more).

The tool kit was carried, the system was open,
The fix would be short (what the customer was hopin’!).

With a tiny screwdriver, the fix went so surgical.
The PM was done – it was almost liturgical.

And the customer thanked all he knew were involved.
’Cause the system was up, and the problem was solved.

He thanked all his field techs and all CSRs;
for supporting the customers (along with the VARs).

He thanked @PollockOnService for its data and blogs;
and toasted his friends there with rum and egg nogs.

And then, it was Hanukah, and Kwanzaa, and Christmas,
with all systems still running (after all, it’s a business!).

All year long, we keep working for customer satisfaction,
and our support staffs make sure that we take the right action.

So this season make sure you thank customers and staffers.
“Happy Holidays to all – and with happy ever afters!”

Whatever You Celebrate, We Celebrate with You!

Happy Holidays to Everyone from Bill Pollock and Strategies For Growth℠

UK & EMEA Services Organisations Clearly Understand the Value of “Minding the Metrics”

The services sector has traditionally been guided by a succession of rules, regulations and policies that, hopefully, make us all better at supporting our customers and the global business economy, as a whole. Many of these guidelines mirror other aspects of our lives as well, such as “Mind your Manners”, “Mind your Own Business” and – of course, “Mind the Gap!” However, no guideline may be as important to the services community as “Mind the Metrics” – and this is particularly well evidenced in the UK & EMEA geographies.

In fact, a special cut of the results from Strategies For Growth’s (SFG) 2014 Field Service Management Benchmark Survey reveal that, for the UK/EMEA services community, “developing/improving the metrics, or KPIs, used to measure Field Service Performance” is the number one strategic action currently being taken, as cited by nearly two-thirds (i.e., 64%) of survey respondents.

No other strategic actions are cited by as many as half of respondents, although “investing in mobile tools to support field technicians” rates fairly high at 49%, followed by “improving planning and forecasting with respect to field service operations” at just over one-third (i.e., 34%).

This is no surprise to Steve Alderson, Managing Director at Cognito, a leading, UK-based provider of mobile workforce management solutions to field service organisations, who corroborates that “This exactly reflects what we are hearing from the industry with service organisations facing intense pressure from competitors and rising customer expectations. These survey results confirm the strong sense in the market that getting a better understanding of field service metrics is critical to improving overall performance.”

The primary Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), or metrics, currently being used by a majority of UK/EMEA Field Services Organisations (FSOs) include:

  • 78% Customer Satisfaction
  • 75% Total Service Revenue/Turnover
  • 68% Total Service Cost
  • 53% Field Technician Utilisation (i.e., time spent performing repairs ÷ total hours)
  • 53% Percent of Total Service Revenue under Service Level Agreement (SLA)
  • 51% Service Revenue, as a Percent of Total Company Revenues
  • 51% Service Revenue, per Field Technician

It is interesting to note, however, that most of the primary KPIs that were being used when many of us were just breaking into the business, while still important, are typically only used today by a minority of services organisations (i.e., on-site response time and first-time-fix-rate, each cited by 49%; SLA compliance and mean-time-to-repair/MTTR, each cited by 47%; and several others). However, what the data do not show is a diminution of importance among the old ‘tried and true’ KPIs, but, rather, an increased emphasis among those factors that are most influential today with respect to customer satisfaction, field tech utilisation and – oh, yes – the bottom line!

Most services industry analysts would also agree that you cannot – and should not – merely collect and tabulate the data – that is basically what a market research analyst firm does. Running a services organisation, however, is quite different, according to Alderson who suggests that, “Information without action is useless”. He continues, “As service organisations mature, and implement the next generation of mobile workforce management systems, sophisticated data gathering and analytical capabilities will be mandatory. However, the ability to act on the insights and knowledge gained, to improve field service performance, will be the key to thriving, not just surviving.”

But, why are KPIs so important to the overall well-being of the organisation? Because, for many, their service performance goals are simply not being met! For example, in the UK/EMEA services community:

  • 32% of FSOs are not attaining at least 80% Customer Satisfaction; (UK/EMEA average is 82% Customer Satisfaction)
  • 28% of FSOs are not attaining at least 80% SLA Compliance;         (UK/EMEA average is 81% SLA Compliance)
  • 26% of FSOs are not achieving at least 20% services profitability; (UK/EMEA average is 35% Services Profitability)

For these reasons alone, between a quarter and a third (or more) of the UK/EMEA FSOs probably find themselves in the need for new and/or upgraded mobile workforce management technologies to run their organisations. Then, of course, they’ll still need to measure their performance along the way. It’s definitely time to “Mind the Metrics!”

Complimentary Distribution of this Article has been made possible through Cognito:

Cognito is a leading provider of mobile workforce management solutions to field service organisations. For more than 20 years, we’ve been at the leading edge of innovation and best practice when it comes to helping our clients drive field force performance, exceed customer expectations and deliver consistently excellent service. Recently, Cognito has embraced a series of key innovations in mobile workforce management software, culminating in our flagship Fieldforce iQ solution. Cognito operates throughout Europe and North America. Our customers typically have mid-size to large mobile work forces ranging from 50-plus field workers to many thousands. For more information, please visit our Website at www.cognitoiQ.com, email us at info@cognitoiQ.com, or call +44 (0)1635 508200.