Field services affect a company’s perceived ability to deliver on its promises of product integrity, functionality and availability and hence its brand. Their importance goes therefore far beyond their impact on the bottom line.
Yet most companies fail to leverage field services as a competitive differentiator or to sustainably improve productivity beyond market and customer price pressures. Part of the problem is that field service management tends to be reduced to a logistics and scheduling problem where best practice is standardized and widely emulated, while solutions are provided off the shelf and built into a company’s ERP systems and technological infrastructure. However the ubiquitous presence of such systems has essentially transformed them from strategic resources previously to commodities now, a cost of doing business which is indispensable and must be paid by all, but brings no competitive advantage. Often built into such systems is a reactive nature for field service (after a user calls or equipment fails) and a focus on cost rather than customer needs.
The focus on logistics systems and internal costs often obscures broader field service problems, including customer experience and revenue generation, strategy and organization as well the human resource factor. For example, in many cases installed base data for assessing market potential, benchmarking or planning purposes are inadequate or inconsistent. In many large organizations, field services are run as decentralized, often geographically distinct, operational units with little coordination, often lacking critical mass for specialization and sufficient technical expertise or for developing planning and management capabilities. Inefficiencies along boundaries or interfaces of organizational units or artificial profit and cost allocations between either local and central service or service and product units often provide disincentives for cooperation to achieve customer outcomes. And the psychology of field service employees is often highly individualistic and resentful of central management control. Hence many companies operate with a-priori low expectations for performance.
Nevertheless as installed base ages, including in emerging markets, products become more complex and companies move towards offerings based on outcomes, where risks and costs of intervention are transferred to the service provider, the importance of improving field services will increase. Furthermore technology advances are providing new opportunities for advanced offerings, improved customer outcomes and higher cost efficiencies.
Our systematic approach to field service management goes beyond system implementation and focuses on total performance. We help clients develop strategic approaches for competitive differentiation, methods for managing demand and enhanced revenue generation through improved offerings, smart pricing and new technology implementation. We work with clients to improve logistics, optimize footprints and organizational structures and to design the right incentives and effective management practices.