Mobility for Customer Service
Everyone is talking about mobility these days. According to IDC, over 1.36 billion mobile phones were sold in 2010. Of those, 293 million are smartphones, defined as mobile phones with embedded computers that are able to run complex and sophisticated applications. That means there are about 500 millions smartphones in use today. Until recently, the primary usage of smartphones in the enterprise has been for email access. But what about other enterprise applications? I believe smartphones are now primed for the rest of the enterprise applications.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to moderate a panel on CRM mobility at the SAP Insider CRM conference, CRM 2011 (http://www.crm2011.com). On my panel were Kerry Gustafson from General Mills, Amar Kumthekar from CareFusion, and Subrata Nandi from Sybase, an SAP company. General Mills has deployed a mobile sales application on the iPad to the sales groups within one of their key division. On the other hand, CareFusion has employed mobility to improve their service.
You may wonder how mobility can help to deliver exceptional customer service. As it turns out, one of the low-hanging fruit scenarios for mobility is field service. The typical process is as follows: (1) customer encounters an issue and requests assistance, (2) service organization creates service order, (3) service order is assigned and routed to a field engineer, (4) a field engineer works on the service order at customer site, (5) upon completion, the field engineer documents the work, including time and service parts consumed, (6) back office operations determine entitlement and invoice customer. As you can see, coordination between the back office and field engineer is required for an efficient and satisfactory service delivery. Relevant, accurate, and timely information must also be shared between the office and the field engineer. Many things could go wrong in this process, which is all too common.
Here is a typical scenario: An x-ray machine at a busy dental office has just broken down. So, the office administrator calls their manufacturer and gives them the relevant information such as model, description of the problem, and perhaps the relevant “error code” shown on the display. She is told that they need to send a field engineer out to take a look. The back office then creates a service order and assigns it to a field engineer. Because the field engineer has already left the depot, the dispatcher calls him on the mobile phone. The field engineer writes down minimal information about the issue when he receives the call from the dispatcher. And because he already has a full schedule and does not realize the priority of the call, he does not show up at the customer site until the end of the day. By the time he shows up, the dental office is already quite upset with the slow response. The field engineer then proceeds to ask the administrator the same set of questions that were asked by the back office. After a short diagnostic test to confirm the problem, the field engineer realizes he does not have the right part and has to schedule a follow up. Since he does not have parts availability information, he could not commit to a date and time that he can return until the next day. And when he finally shows up with the part and fixes the problem a couple days later, he does not document the work that he just performed. In fact, he waits until the end of the week to fill out the paperwork, thereby omitting some key information. This omission further delays the invoicing process. As a result, the customer is unhappy with the overall process and the company is not able to collect for their service in a timely manner because of the dispute caused by inaccurate data.
This is where mobility can help. With a mobile application for field engineers, back office personnel and field engineers can stay connected and coordinated. When high priority service orders arrive, dispatchers can update service order assignments and disseminate these updates to field engineers in real-time via the mobile application. Relevant information of the service order such as service order priority, SLA, equipment model, error information, service history, location, contact, recommended parts, and estimated job duration can be wirelessly sent to the mobile application used by field engineers. As a result, a field engineer has all relevant information and the right parts by the time he shows up at the customer site. Furthermore, the mobile application can also help him document what he has done, what parts are used and the time he spent on it immediately right after he finished the repair. Thus, accurate information about the service order can flow back to the office for timely invoicing and future reference. This is exactly what CareFusion wants to achieve with their deployment of a mobile field service application to their field engineers. So far, initial results are very promising.
If the level of interest in my panel discussion session is any indication, I believe mobile field service is just the tip of the iceberg for what can be achieved with mobility for customer service. Imagine if the mobile device could also communicate directly with equipment to capture key information and perform equipment diagnostics. Imagine the level of productivity and customer experience that can be achieved then with mobility for customer service.
Hansen Lieu is a Director of Solution Marketing at SAP. He has over 20 years of experiences in the IT industry, from development, implementation, product management, and marketing. In the last 12 years, he has been focusing on mobility, CRM, and particularly solutions for customer service. In his current role, Hansen is responsible for thought leadership, social media marketing, go-to-market ...
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