Friday, 21 June 2019

Field service modernisation: Turning field service into actual science

posted by HK
Thursday 21 March 19

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have come a long way from offering simple voice, short message and broadband services to an array of digital services, such as video, m-commerce, travel and ticketing, music subscriptions, gaming, instant messaging, online storage, etc. Their products have become complex, requiring partnerships with a number of diverse service providers. This results in third-party field service engineers using a variety of inconsistent methodologies to deliver products and services—in turn affecting customer experience and customer satisfaction levels. Hence, the challenge is to modernize field service across partners. MNOs face this challenge because the ecosystem hasn't matured adequately to ensure that partners have gold standards for their processes. Moreover, MNOs generally don't have control over partner processes. It is this lack of control that is at the core of the issue and is a problem that needs to be addressed. Ideally, an MNO should be able to influence partner processes and align them with its business goals and customer needs. But fragmented and unconnected systems are taking a toll on MNOs attempting to streamline diverse partner processes…

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have come a long way from offering simple voice, short message and broadband services to an array of digital services, such as video, m-commerce, travel and ticketing, music subscriptions, gaming, instant messaging, online storage, etc. Their products have become complex, requiring partnerships with a number of diverse service providers. This results in third-party field service engineers using a variety of inconsistent methodologies to deliver products and services—in turn affecting customer experience and customer satisfaction levels. Hence, the challenge is to modernize field service across partners.
MNOs face this challenge because the ecosystem hasn't matured adequately to ensure that partners have gold standards for their processes. Moreover, MNOs generally don't have control over partner processes. It is this lack of control that is at the core of the issue and is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Ideally, an MNO should be able to influence partner processes and align them with its business goals and customer needs. But fragmented and unconnected systems are taking a toll on MNOs attempting to streamline diverse partner processes.
Let's take the example of an MNO provisioning a new broadband connection. This activation requires four entities to cooperate and collaborate: The MNO who owns the telecom infrastructure, the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) who sells the connection to the end customer, the Service Delivery Provider (SDP) to whom the task of hardware installation and activation is outsourced, and the customer. Our cumulative data acquired from large scale engagements with MNOs across the globe shows that of every 1,000 connections that need to be activated 594 (59%) fail to get it First Time Right (FTR). Our experience tells that it takes an average of three contacts with the customer before each visit. The end result is annoyed customers with about seven to 10% moving to a different provider. Additionally, the failed truck roll with the technician and the equipment can cost up to £ 200 (US$ 260) for the MNO, MVNO and the SDP combined. Clearly, there is an urgent need to reduce the 59% fall out and improve FTR.
To understand how FTR can be improved, we first need to understand the root cause of the failure. The reasons for FTR failure can be attributed to the lack of clear, transparent, complete and timely communication between MNO, MVNO, SDP and the customer. To deliver a new field service experience the industry needs top quality communication between partners.
The benefit of improved communication is twofold: One, it improves FTR and consequently customer loyalty along with reduced truck roll cost; two, the reduced number of calls made by the customer to the contact centre with requests for updates and to log complaints adds up to contact centre savings.
Changing customer behaviour is a critical element that MNOs must consider. With rapid digitization, customers tend to use digital channels for their buying process. This is a good change as it reduces the cost of selling and onboarding a customer. However, customers tend to go back to traditional toll-free channels for the rest of their lifecycle. This quickly adds to costs. Can traditional customer management channels be streamlined and injected with intelligence, making them customer friendly from a self-service point of view? Finally, can MNOs, MVNOs and SDPs leverage high-end analytics for reporting so that there is complete control over the episodes that customers get?
The answer to consistent, improved and simplified customer experience at lowered cost is in field service modernization.
The domino effect of poor field services
Field service modernization calls for attention to two key areas: communication and process synchronization. By focusing on these, MNOs can prevent unexpected events from interfering with the successful delivery of services.
The lack of quality communication—traditionally paper-based and/or voice-based—has a domino effect. The field engineer may not be able to reach the customer at the appointed time and may be unable to alert the customer about the delay. The reverse can also be true. The customer may need to make in-flight changes to the schedule and be unable to reach the field engineer. Often, the field engineer may attend to the customer with either the wrong equipment or a lack of appropriate training for the required installation. This is because of a lack of early visibility into customer requirements or site conditions. In each instance, the SDP gets paid for the truck roll, without any progress in service activation.
By integrating and synchronizing the processes, the entire value cycle can be positively impacted. In other words, the problems of all the stakeholders must be brought on to a single real-time, mobile platform. Doing this brings transparency and predictability to the various moving parts that require working in unison in order to deliver success.
A simple example helps understand how identifying gaps and predicting unexpected events can improve success rates. Assume a field engineer is delayed on the way to a customer site because of a traffic hold up. The engineer could alert the field service platform, which in turn could do one of two things: it could estimate the time required by the engineer to reach the customer site and automatically alert the customer or it could identify and direct a similarly equipped, qualified and proximal engineer to attend to the customer. To enable this, we need to use design principles to modernize field services and enhance the experience at each stage through:
• Resource optimization
• Improved visibility into partner processes
• Maximization of the value of each interaction
• Cost containment
Re-imagining field service
Improving communication and synchronizing processes would elevate the field service experience along with optimizing service cost, reducing failed visits, improving operational control and providing a holistic view of the entire field service. To enable this, the platform would need to re-imagine six factors:
1. Scheduling & Dispatch – enabling it with smart and automated Gantt-based scheduling, real-time tracking and monitoring of engineers, engineer territory planning and proactive delay management based on traffic or previous appointments resulting in cost containment.
2. Capacity Management – through intelligent forecasting, resource plans linked to historical performance, efficient resource utilization, risk planning and by leveraging an integrated contractor scheduling module.
3. Operational Excellence – driven by critical alerts and triggers for jeopardy management, ensuring the health and safety of engineers and dynamic shift planning.
4. Mobile Interface – with enterprise-grade mobile applications, real-time updates and self-scheduling capabilities, parts management and gamification.
5. Customer Engagement – focused toward ensuring that customers can track engineers, access to pre and post service engagement, truth-based appointment scheduling and ability to make in-flight changes.
6. Dashboard & Analytics – using deep analytics to provide rich operational information, performance management and goal setting.
Improving field services to retain customers
Improving field service management has become critical to MNOs and their partners in order to retain customers. An as-a-service platform for field service management is a handy solution that can quickly become self-funding through up to 25% better utilization of field engineers. Users of such a platform can expect to see distinct benefits in the form of:
• Partner process standardization
• Reduced contacts from the customer
• Predictable customer experience
• Ability to self-serve
• Improved FTR through real-time visibility
However, the platform's ability to improve customer experience, often boosting it by up to 20%, is a substantially more important consideration.
Modernizing the communication between third-party field service engineers and synchronizing processes between them is critical to the success of MNOs. An MNO can influence both (communication and processes) by leveraging a technology platform to standardize, streamline and integrate currently fragmented processes.
Author Details
Ravi Mhapankar is Associate Vice President and Practice Head, Communications, Wipro Digital Operations & Platforms. Ravi has a total of 14 years of experience, of which, 11 years have been in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. He has managed large fulfilment service delivery teams within Wipro and has been a part of various transformation initiatives, both at process and platform levels.


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