See how manufacturing industry leader tackled customer relations and service gaps to create a seamless workflow.
Astea’s Director of Global Marketing, Emily Hackman, sat down with John Durkin, Business Unit Manager for the Americas from Instron to discuss how the company overcame its operational and communication barriers by implementing a best of breed field service management solution, Alliance Enterprise. This is Instron’s story.
When customers such as US Steel, GM, Ford and Becton Dickinson rely on you for service, it’s pivotal to have the most dynamic and comprehensive field service management (FSM) software on the market. As a pioneer manufacturer of universal testing equipment, Instron was tasked to turn services from a cost center into a profit center and increase profitability without additional overhead.
« We are the most profitable business unit within the Instron business »
With nearly 1,700 employees and 350 service engineers globally, the use of too many various applications as a means of communications and data entry led to a departmental disconnect as well as inefficient data transmittal. Management was unable to accurately forecast profitability, while technicians struggled to operate efficiently. The lack of transparency between management, sales and service technicians led to ineffective communication with customers and inability to tailor to their needs.
« We either provided more service than the customer paid for or not enough because of communication issues »
Instron needed an FSM solution that provided a full suite of service lifecycle management applications including contact center, inventory management, dynamic field service scheduling, contract and warranty management for selling up service agreements, and inventory and call center management software. Astea’s Alliance Enterprise was a clear winner.
Best of Breed vs. Integrated Service Software from ERP or CRM Platform
To determine what solution would be the best fit, Instron established a boardroom pilot including field service technicians, field managers, call coordinators and sales service managers to figure out what exactly they wanted it to perform. Managing a product from shipment through its lifecycle with focus on customer satisfaction, takes various moving parts. Doing it through an ERP bolt-on solution could prove to create more hassle.
« Sometimes information overload causes people to paralyze »
Because these separate modules create supplemental functionality to the ERP system, they are not easily integrated and tend to be less user-friendly. Issues such as connectivity disruption and duplicate or insufficient data are not uncommon. Instron needed a solution that would make the cycle from the sales side of business all the way to delivery and invoicing relatively seamless.
« We want a system designed around service delivery vs. designed around a lot of aspects of general business »
Instron looked for a comprehensive management solution that covered the entire service lifecycle including customer, service and asset management, forward and reverse logistics and mobile workforce management based on their service delivery needs. It was crucial to have a system in place that offered specific functions that would enable the organization to perform tasks in multiple ways and to share pertinent data in the way that allowed employees to see what’s going on without overloading them with information. This is exactly what the best in breed solution, Alliance, provided. By sharing job specific data, Instron created transparency among departments which in turn led to greater efficiency and overall productivity.
Sales Opportunity Management
When sending a technician into the field, it’s expected that he only completes the job at hand. If he notices a secondary issue that could be fixed on the spot at an additional cost, it would often become significantly inefficient to contact the manager for approval and find correct materials. This resulted in lost opportunity and in turn lost revenue.
« We have all the service business run through Alliance: warehouse, logistics, technical support and customer support and that essentially lets everyone see what’s going on »
With Alliance, a technician could easily manage all communication and inventory through a mobile device. Once he sees an opportunity for additional service, he checks the inventory, sends a message to his supervisor and upon approval can easily provide a quote, perform service and even invoice the customer on the spot. Eliminating the inefficiencies that came with traditional up-selling created greater opportunity for business.
On the Sales side, Alliance provided sales and marketing teams with insights into the customer base, creating opportunities for not only up-selling, but also more importantly offering products and services based on customer’s individual needs and preferences.
« The service team was originally there to help Sales sell more product but we have now become relationship managers »
Using numerous channels for communication and customer data, proved to be a challenge in meeting customer demands for updated information. Flexible scheduling, technician information and work to be performed were some of their top concerns. The Alliance Enterprise platform enables customers to communicate directly with the technician via a preferred channel (IM, text, etc.) to gain knowledge of precise arrival time, work needs and any other information related to the work order.
« In many cases now, there is a sense of heightened security: customers want to know who you are »
Years ago, customers knew their service technicians by name because they typically serviced the account for many years. With today’s high technician turnover rate, nothing can be assumed anymore. Alliance allowed Instron to provide its customers with information such as who will be servicing their account and the exact work that will be performed, ensuring customer peace of mind and thus creating a better customer experience.
Visibility and Business Intelligence Reporting
As the business manager, it’s crucial to have access to all of the right information to determine profitability of products and services and accurately forecast financial performance. In the past, it was very unclear what the financial health of the business was as the months progressed. Management would rely on Finance to provide the numbers to determine how the business is doing.
« You ran the business mainly through intuition »
Alliance enabled Instron to have complete visibility of the business and key metrics such as utilization of employees, job duration and pricing of products and services to better determine profitability of service products.
By adopting an all-in one field service management solution, Instron was able to overcome both service and customer side challenges. In the field, mobile workforce management seamlessly connected technicians to the right information and departments, creating a higher first time fix rate, efficient communication with customers and in turn greater customer satisfaction.
Watch this short testimonial video featuring Instron’s Business Unit Manager for the Americas, John Durkin, to see how Instron achieved:
- seamless workflow through the same data set
- accuracy with revenue prediction
- transparency between departments
- better inventory management and service technician utilization
- improved customer retention
- and more
Request a demo today to see how Astea can help you become an adaptable and dynamic service delivery organization.