By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
I was sent a book recently titled 42 Rules For Superior Field Service: The Keys To Profitable Field Service and Customer Loyalty, written by Rosemary Coats and Jim Reily. As you can imagine, the title caught my eye since field service is a topic near and dear to me. The book consists of 42 different “rules” or pieces of advice, split into five sections — sales and marketing, operations, supply chain and finance, people, and internal departments. The authors come from supply chain and consulting backgrounds, and you can tell from much of the advice in the book that they’ve had their fair share of experience with the ins and outs of a field service organization.
There were a few rules that I thought were particularly good and wanted to share with you. First, rule #2, which is in the sales and marketing section, is “Product Failures Are Opportunities To Delight Customers.” The idea here is that the way your field service force is equipped and able to deal with the issues that arise when a product fails in the field is an opportunity to endear your company to the customer — assuming your field force handles the situation well. As the authors say, “You will build customer loyalty if service is responsive and effective.” Just another reason it’s crucial to make sure your field workers are on time, prepared to do the job when they arrive, and have the ability to deal effectively with upset customers.
The Importance Of KPIs In Field Service
In the next section of the book, focused on operations, rule #12 states, “You Can’t Get What You Don’t Measure.” This rule is about the need for KPIs (key performance indicators) to manage your service organization. The authors are stressing the importance of using KPIs — and using them well — in areas like customer satisfaction with metrics such as product uptime, first-time fix rate, MTTR (mean time to repair), etc. While using KPIs may seem like common sense, many organizations don’t have benchmark measures or KPIs in place, which makes improvement difficult to attain and impossible to track.
Rule #26, in the supply chain and finance section of the book, was especially attention-grabbing. The rule is “Inventory Turns Are Irrelevant.” The authors explain here that, while “In a perfect imaginary field service world inventory turns are zero,” the reality is that customer response time is far more important. So while you can’t completely ignore inventory carrying costs, this rule suggests that those costs — in the long term — are far more manageable than the cost of frustrating a customer.
These are just snippets of three of the rules in this book; there are many more you’d likely find interesting and informative. If you’d like more information on the book, you can visit www.happyabout.com/42rules/superiorfieldservice.php. Is there a field service “rule” that you live by? If so, I’d love to hear what it is. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.