From The Editor | May 5, 2017

Field Service Automation Is Never Finished

Source: Field Technologies Magazine
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Sarah Nicastro

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
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Field Service Automation

In the summer of 2013 and again in November of 2014, Field Technologies interviewed David D. Douglas, VP of service management at Scientific Games, regarding his company’s use of a service management solution from Astea along with iPhones and iPads to optimize its mobile operations. David shared with us an overview of Scientific Games’ field service initiative, and then gave some tips for post-deployment success. Since we last spoke, David has been very busy merging service organizations as Scientific Games has made acquisitions.

Over the last 40 years, Scientific Games has provided lottery and gaming technology, equipment, game content, and marketing services to more than 1,500 customers on six continents.  Scientific Games has completed three acquisitions since it deployed field automation — WMS (with 120 techs) in 2013, Bally Technologies (with 265 techs) in 2014 and DEQ (with 4 techs) in 2016 — which has significantly increased the scale and scope of the company’s service management organization.

Now the company's nearly 600 North American certified field service technicians install, repair, and maintain gaming and lottery and other types of gaming machines at traditional casinos, tribal casinos, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and other retail locations. The field technicians also manage equipment installation, converting, moving, removal, and contract-based preventive maintenance. In 2013 when we first spoke with David, the company had just rolled out the Astea Alliance (branded as Smart Services) system to its 200 service technicians in the U.K.  In early 2014, Scientific Games continued to roll out the Smart Services solution to the WMS Gaming technicians and then in 2015 rolled out the back office Smart Services system to all gaming technicians companywide.

Prior to the Smart Service System and mobile solution, Scientific Games used the BMC Remedy AR service ticket system to manage its technicians. When customers called in, a ticket was generated. Dispatchers would then manually dispatch the call to a technician over the phone. Technicians documented their work activities in a paper log and alerted dispatch of their status and location over the phone.  “As a company, we focus on finding solutions that improve service for our global customers and ultimately their customers. We did not have a mobile solution with GPS, and we were looking for more efficiencies in scheduling technicians based on their location," says Douglas.

After its initial field automation rollout, the company wanted to continue to increase technician efficiency and drive down its service operations costs. "In the past few years, we wanted to expand our solution to the gaming industry, implementing efficient technologies and processes to allow us to reduce response time and increase customer satisfaction simultaneously," Douglas says. "In the beginning, we were completing an average of 3.2 calls per technician, per day. We wanted to utilize our resources better, and do some cost avoidance as well."

The solution has been effective in increasing efficiencies and productivity, improving customer satisfaction, as well as improving Preventative Maintenance (PM) and Service Level Agreement (SLA) compliance. One of the initial goals for the company was to lower its dispatcher-to-technician ratio. Since the solution has been in place, the company has experienced a reduction in incoming and outgoing calls, and the number of completed service calls per technician increased dramatically. "We are not just getting our technicians to their jobs faster, but we are able to prioritizing the tickets in a way we couldn’t before," Douglas says. "We have different response times required for different contracts, and now we can prioritize the work more effectively."

As Scientific Games has incorporated the technicians coming on board through acquisitions into the Smart Service solution, Douglas has come to learn that field automation is never really “over.” It is an ongoing project of rolling out the system, ensuring field technicians are leveraging it as indicated, and looking for new ways to maximize the technology investment.

Putting Focus On The Customer Experience

Scientific Games is also exploring new mobile technologies that can also enhance the customer experience at every step along their journey with the company. Douglas says, “We are currently exploring a mobile customer portal so our customers can open tickets from their mobile phone and enable us to dispatch technicians directly to the site based on priority, thus allowing the customer to see the location of the tech and potential arrival time.”

While the process of improvement is continual in today’s service landscape, Douglas is happy with the progress Scientific Games has made and is still making. “We are still working toward our ever-evolving goals, but the automated solution has not just reduced costs and made the technicians more efficient; it has also put the company in an advantageous position as the industry continues to consolidate,” says Douglas. "Providing value-added services helps customer revenues grow and I do not believe that other gaming/lottery industry suppliers have anything like this in place."