Five tips to grow your field service practice
“Take your time” isn’t a phrase field engineers expect to hear when a client requests a site visit. These customers are looking for a rapid resolution, which is why a high first-time fix rate is crucial to a business’s success. But simply fixing a problem quickly isn’t enough. Clients want a positive customer experience. They want to feel the field engineer is listening to their needs, and they want assurance that the field service organisation is capable of fully meeting those needs.
No matter what industry or country an organisation is in, the following five tips can help keep second site visits to a minimum and improve the overall customer experience.
Remember that prevention is better than cure
First-time fix rates are important, but preventing issues in the first place is even better. Avoiding system malfunctions is particularly important if the customer has recovery time objectives to meet for business continuity and disaster recovery purposes. To help pinpoint and resolve potential issues, you should consider using a remote management tool to monitor the customer’s systems.
Have engineers cross-sell
To emphasise that your organisation is able to help your customers achieve benefits such as improving operational efficiency or increasing revenue, your field engineers need to be familiar with your service offerings. Even if the field engineer isn’t directly involved in supporting all of the organisation’s products and services, being familiar with them allows the field engineer to recommend solutions to solve the client’s unique business challenges.
For instance, an engineer for a managed service provider (MSP) might go on-site to repair a server and hear the client mention that the organisation is having trouble coping with data sprawl and is considering virtualising some of its environment. If the engineer is aware that the MSP offers cloud-based infrastructure as a service (IaaS), the engineer can suggest that as a solution.
Invest in improving employees and processes
Even the most skilled engineers and most successful organisations can make improvements. For example, engineers can participate in sales training to improve cross-selling skills or obtain IT certifications that allow them to work on certain equipment or software.
To generate fresh ideas and solutions for business challenges, your organisation could hold regular review meetings where heads of the department review the past month’s performance and conduct real-time SWOT analyses on every aspect of the business. If your organisation has multiple locations within a country or even multiple countries, national or international teams can collaborate to offer one another new perspectives and promote a cohesive business strategy.
Manage spare inventory efficiently
Every time an engineer doesn’t have the parts needed to fix a job on customer site, your first-time fix rate goes down. To address this issue, organisations should assign engineers to specific territories within the regions you service. There should also be easily accessible parts depots near each territory to preclude the possibility of engineers having to wait on parts to be shipped.
Keep on top of regulatory requirements
Because regulatory compliance is a pressing concern for organisations across multiple industries and countries, you need to be familiar with the regulations affecting technology and data processing in the region(s) your business serves. For instance, in the US, many organisations need to fulfil standards required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) and others. Businesses in the EU are required to meet the requirements of the EU Data Protection Directive. In addition, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) holds organisations across the world accountable for protecting cardholder data.
To demonstrate that compliance is a priority, consider adopting a business continuity standard or undergoing a third-party accreditation process to achieve a certification. Examples of these standards include ISO 9001 (for quality management systems) and ISO 27001 (for information security management systems).
By following these tips, your organisation will increase its first-time fix rate, improve its ability to prevent issues before they occur and help clients meet their business goals.
About the Author
Matt Kingswood is the head of Midlands and London-based ITS, a nationwide managed IT services provider. ITS is part of the US Reynolds and Reynolds Company which has a strong heritage in data backup and recovery services. In his position, Matt is responsible for developing Managed IT services and is currently focused on the next generation of cloud and recovery products, BlackCloud and BlackVault Managed Recovery Platform.
Matt has more than 20 years of experience in the information technology industry, and was formerly CEO of The IT Solution – a full service IT Supplier acquired by ITS. Since joining ITS, he has led efforts to introduce a range of managed services based on the new ITS cloud platform. Previously Matt had a career in technology for several top tier investment banks before founding and selling several companies in the IT services industry.