chess-775346_1280Last week, we explored how you can reflect on your service organization’s performance over the past year. This week, we focus on how you can strategically plan for 2016. Maybe your organization is not quite ready to tackle every issue, but prioritizing what to work on gives your organization a head start on what looks to be an exciting year ahead in service.

Define and Prioritize Metrics

In the last post, we listed some of the top operational metrics cited by The Service Council as most impactful for service organizations, but let’s pick on one in particular: First-time Fix. In ServiceMax’s recent eBook, they call first-time fix (FTF) the “holy grail of field service” due to the potential impact it can have on an organization. Why does it offer a great impact? Because it can affect several other operational metrics, including many on The Service Council’s top metrics list, such as service revenue, service cost, and customer satisfaction. If your organization is struggling to decide what metric to prioritize, look no further than FTF. And if your organization is not looking at FTF, rethink your decision to overlook it.

Service as Strategy

Service as strategy should be a service mantra throughout the industry. Service organizations are shifting focus toward customer loyalty, and the way to achieve loyalty is by delivering consistently excellent service. For service organizations looking ahead to 2016, two specific strategies work hand-in-hand to make service as strategy a goal your organization can accomplish, or be well on the way toward accomplishing, by the end of 2016: leveraging technology and focusing on employees.

Leverage Technology

It’s true, customers rarely see the whole of the technology you implement, but they can experience its effects. According to Field Service Technologies Field Mobility 2016 report, companies who choose mobile technology find it easier to focus on customer needs and to implement proactive, predictive maintenance practices. Many organizations with mobile workforce management technologies, the report explains, are better positioned to integrate spare parts management into their operations, meaning more first-time fixes.

A crucial statistic pointed out in the report: only 23% of service organizations have software which supports contract and warranty management. For service organizations wanting to make service a strategy, thereby solidifying customer loyalty, service contracts and warranties give customers peace of mind while also supporting service revenue consistency and growth. Organizations without a system to accurately manage contracts and warrantees might consider adding it to the list of goals for 2016.

Another statistic cited in the report: 57% of service organizations want to deploy a technology solution in the coming year. For those organizations who are part of the 57%, service as a strategy should be at the forefront of their mind. Choosing the right technology will be influenced by your company’s goals, which you can have ready by planning for 2016. Think carefully about how the technology you want to implement can positively affect the customer journey.

Focusing on Employment

The second part of a good service as strategy approach is evaluating your employees. An aging workforce is on the forefront of many managers’ minds, and making a smooth transition from a workforce full of tribal knowledge to a workforce of younger, less experience technicians should be part of your 2016 strategy. ServiceMax makes a point to explain in their recent eBook that hiring, training, and onboarding may be the most important operational feature to think about, particularly for companies experiencing high turn-over.

Take a look at your current employment climate. If you need people, or anticipate needing people in the next five years, do not drag your feet in preparing for and implementing an onboarding and training program. Think about ways to drive interest in your organization to attract younger talent. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but making steps toward the inevitable “change of hands” from older, aging technicians to younger technicians will help differentiate you from your competition.