As many Australian businesses look towards the end of the financial year, attention will soon turn to the next financial year's strategy and how resources need to be aligned to deliver on that strategy. As part of that strategy, partners must align their field service needs to that strategy for several important reasons that can often go unrecognised.
Field service needs to be aligned to your business strategy for several reasons:
When a field service technician goes to do an installation or fixes a problem at a client site, they represent the business for whom they work – they act as a point of touch with that client. If they are working on behalf of the Partner, this interaction will directly impact the Partner and the client's customer relationship and make a difference. It is easy to see that field service technicians can directly impact the client's relationship and is therefore integral to the core business strategy. Where the strategy is centred on growth, they can help identify new opportunities and deliver services swiftly to the client. Additionally, where the strategy is centred on retention and stability, they can ensure that clients enjoy an excellent client service level and are more likely to remain with that Partner.
It is, therefore, logical to make sure that field services are aligned to the core business strategy given its proximity to the client and its relationship with them.
It can be challenging for partners to establish and operate offices nationwide and also build out teams of engineers or technicians to service those widespread client opportunities. All too often, partners forgo opportunities that cross state or territory borders and instead focus on smaller opportunities closer to home, as they do not have access to the skills to provide them reach.
Having the right field service partner can not only provide that extended geographic reach, but in doing so, can give partners access to an enlarged target market across more expansive geography and, in turn, have a positive influence on the revenue and commercial success of that Partner – supporting reach and scale to drive revenues and growth.
Including field service as a key consideration in the business strategy makes sense when it helps drive not just the reach and scale of the business but helps to support revenue and profitability growth
3. Field service can enhance customer experience
In a market renowned for the pace of innovation, change, and competition, the quality of the customer experience differentiates one Partner from another. Delivering a predictably high-quality customer experience – easy to deal with, flexible, trustworthy, reliable and value-for-money - is often a combination of services personnel within an organisation – project management, service coordinators, help desk operators and field service technicians. With field service technicians operating more directly with clients (on their sites or working now with the client themselves to resolve problems), they can directly impact customer experience quality. They are, of course, delivering on many of the corporate promises at the centre of the Partner's strategy.
Ensuring that field service is aligned to business strategy and delivering quality outcomes for clients enhances the chances of retaining customers and supports substantial revenue and profitability growth within the Partner.
4. Field service can help control costs and margins for support & deployment.
Most business strategies are centred on growth, cost efficiency and margin improvement – of course, there may be a few variations on those. Still, it is rare to find a business strategy that does not have one of those three areas at its core.
Given the relentless focus on becoming ever-more efficient, it is essential to look at complementary services that might offer improvements to costs or increase incremental revenues. And in a country that is as geographically dispersed as Australia, looking at Field Service as a means to control costs and margins makes sense. Intelligent partners are increasingly using field service as a tool to give them access to a "bench" of complementary and skilled resource to perform tasks on behalf of that Partner. Doing so in a way that is delivered on-demand – meaning the Partner has access to the resource and capability but doesn't have the fixed cost associated with directly employing that resource.
So not only can the right field service provider give partners access to resources and share the risk of resources being available, but it can also do at scale. That means partners can have access to and service opportunities that are national in scale and give them complete control of costs whilst giving them access to larger revenue opportunities.
It seems odd to consider that field service might provide some degree of market differentiation for partners. Still, when you think what field service can offer – flexible commercial models, resources on-demand, predictability and certainties of service quality and at scale – it isn't difficult to see how this might contribute to a partner's market differentiation.
As a partner, the need to differentiate is key to survival. Coupling geographic scale with, for example, a price-per-device supported provides a completely different market proposition for the Partner. Or it is enabling the alignment of installation and support with the more traditional managed services business to offer a complete "monthly monthly" service to clients that covers every conceivable aspect of the service.
One can see that aligning field service with core business strategy makes sense – it supports growth, revenue improvement, margin control and customer satisfaction – all core aspects of every Partner's strategy. And yet, all too often, this forgotten aspect of the customer value chain is left as an afterthought. It doesn't take a genius to see that just thinking about field service as a key component of overall business strategy is a sound business decision for innovative partners embracing growth, change and delivering customer excellence.