Inefficiencies have always been a profit drain on service. Recent events—including the COVID-19 pandemic—have made it even more challenging to maintain efficiency, customer service, and other business goals. Digital service operations include technologies and strategies that provide a response to these challenges.
Digitizing service operations creates new opportunities to support the entire service lifecycle. These include breaking down operational silos, improving end-to-end customer experience management, and facilitating all the interactions between a service organization and their customers.
While the idea of digital service operations used to be aspirational, it has now become essential. In fact, embracing digital service—and harnessing its benefits—has become a competitive pursuit for service organizations.
Key barriers in the industry—from workforce skills gaps to travel limitations—are informing what measures leaders are taking to help workers improve service operations, ranging from data analytics to smart connected product development.
There are numerous business benefits of digital service operations from enhanced employee morale to improved competitive advantage. In a survey conducted by Gatepoint Research of over 172 service operations and other executives about their Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), and other service technology investment priorities, customer experience improvement was indicated as the number one business objective driving their organizations in the near term by more than two-thirds of respondents.
Deploying data analytics, self-service improvements or increases, and the development of smart, connected products were named as the top three initiatives, according to the survey. These feed directly into the top three objectives that are important to digital service operations leaders—increasing productivity, improving customer service, and improving competitive advantage.
Let’s examine these top 3 objectives in more detail below:
The manufacturing industry is acutely aware of the challenges spotlighted by the pandemic; namely, that developing and supporting products in the field when site access has been locked down, has been challenging, if not impossible. But, even prior to such unprecedented times, the cost and inefficiencies of servicing field-based products has long been problematic. The combination of connectivity plus predictive analytics has made it possible to unlock efficiency gains for customers by transforming high-volume IoT data into actionable insights.
The paradigm shift to addressing issues before they happen is becoming more common. By using predictive analytics to detect potential problems in the making, companies are able to fix problems before an outage—optimizing efficiency and preventing downtime—and ultimately increasing productivity.
Customer expectations for service and support are continually rising, and global competition only compounds those challenges. And while many factors play a part in enriching customer relationships, it ultimately boils down to being able to ensure that equipment runs to specification and intended capacity.
Digital service operations leverages real-time monitoring and predictive analytics to help companies improve customer satisfaction. Service companies are using digital service to decrease the number and duration of incidents, accelerate the detection of the incidents that do occur, improve the ability to resolve incidents remotely, and maximize the ability to fix it correctly the first time.
Digital service operations make it possible to improve competitive advantage in a dynamic and ever-changing market. Smart, connected products makes it possible to unlock a range of new solutions by collecting real-time performance data. By listening to products and hearing from customers, it create new ways to drive enterprise value. Product performance data also enhances engineering innovation, creating breakthroughs in differentiation. Leaders in service operations are keen on ways to recognize and seize additional opportunities for sales, including consumables and value-add services as well as take advantage of valuable monetization strategies. Digital service operations make it possible to take all of these opportunities from potential to reality.
The pressures of today’s global market make digital service operations invaluable in the best of times. However, in times of crises, it becomes paramount to be able to continue operating effectively at all, as many businesses realized during the pandemic.
Service organizations are turning to the IIoT and AR to help improve service operations. These two technologies on their own offer myriad possibilities, but combined they become a powerhouse, enabling organizations to take their service operations to a new level.
The IIoT significantly improves technician efficiencies (truck rolls, remote resolutions), and helps decrease downtime and increase customer satisfaction.
AR for service enables technicians to be increasingly effective in the field and drive critical service KPIs (first-time-fix-rate, time-to-resolution) through augmented procedural guidance or remote assistance.
Combining IIoT and AR, as in the case of adding IIoT asset health data to AR service use cases helps add context, improving these metrics and the overall service lifecycle. The combination of the two technologies can help solve siloed issues as well as improve existing use cases while forming new use cases.
Supporting the findings of the Gatepoint research, the Service council also found in their research that enterprises that are implementing new technologies are seeing a rise in customer satisfaction (CSAT) and subsequently operational gains. Read the Service Council’s Report on Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) to discover more about how you can take advantage of digital service operations.
Read the Service Council's report for insights into Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and its influence on operational performance.