The pressure on OEMs and their service teams to be more responsive to end-users has risen considerably. Medical technology and industrial automation organizations aren’t used to seeing SLA response time as a pain point because many have grown accustomed to average SLA performance. More recently, however, we are seeing that the market has shifted amid new pressure to improve responsiveness for mission-critical applications, and OEMs have begun to view excellent SLA response as a strategic competitive advantage.
The pandemic has only exacerbated and shone light on response time challenges that have often translated into lower or declining customer satisfaction ratings that can ultimately mean customer defection. Over the past few months, we’ve seen that OEM field service teams face travel restrictions and delays, hindering their ability to go to end-user sites to do their work. In many cases, we’re also hearing of organizations’ average SLA response windows growing from 2-3 days to 5-7. As response times have grown longer, mission-critical service needs have taken precedence – which has resulted in a growing backlog of service projects. Some organizations may now be months behind on their end-users’ non-essential service work, including their contractually obligated preventative maintenance. Of course, that’s all work that must be made up, or other breakdowns and tickets will ensue. As the piles of broken equipment keep getting bigger, the resultant resource drain that traditional OEM service departments experience is causing customer satisfaction ratings to drop throughout the industry.
Justifiably, end-users are running out of patience, expecting more from their OEM and are beginning to demand more for their money. The status quo isn’t good enough. Their products and services are supposed to work reliably and, when they do have issues, they expect downtime to be minimized as productivity and patient outcomes are on the line. Yet today, they experience increasingly longer offline periods, which costs them in many ways.
For example, a health clinic can use an ultrasound machine about eight times each day. If that machine is down for one week, that quickly translates to lost revenue (40 appointments!). It also disappoints patients, and either puts them at risk of adverse health outcomes because of delayed medical attention or increases the likelihood they’ll visit another clinic.
So, what am I seeing OEMs do to deliver faster, better service? Here are a few standout efforts:
- Adopt a proven, effective model combining outsourced and in-house service. OEMs who have done this have begun to develop an edge over competitors stuck in a traditional service model. For example, the model enables their own high-level FEs to focus on complex tasks while less complex tasks are still being completed and improves customer satisfaction and relationships.
- Leverage local technicians that deliver same day SLA turnaround anywhere for their less complex service events, such as standard break fix and preventative maintenance calls. By partnering with IT services organizations to help augment their existing services, their higher-level engineers are freed up to focus on more complex and revenue-generating service activities.
- Build depth into the local field service network to enable a more resilient overall workforce. A fully resilient service network and infrastructure should ideally have more resources than what’s required to ensure availability and quicker time to repair, keeping end-users online and improving their customer satisfaction ratings.
We’ll soon publish another post about field service resource utilization and efficiency, in addition to SLA times. In the meantime, for more on Source’s outsourced service model and our same day onsite service capabiltiies, visit sourcesupport.com/services/24-7-support-services.