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How to use your service and asset data to deliver a game-changing customer experience

Zach Arnold Profile picture for user Zach Arnold February 29, 2024
Summary:
Geopolitics and a transforming oil and gas industry mean that small margins matter. Zach Arnold of ServiceMax customer Westmor explains how existing asset data can make a huge difference to the bottom line.

Customer asset management data © metamorworks - Canva.com
(© metamorworks - Canva.com)

According to Deloitte’s 2024 Oil and gas industry outlook, this year will see an acceleration of issues that shaped 2023. Geopolitical problems, energy transition challenges, rapid technology adoption and a volatile supply chain are all factors that are impacting decision making in the industry. Working with our customers, we see that navigating such a complex and challenging environment demands input from across an entire organization to ensure that every angle is covered, or at least considered. The role of data in this process has been transformational but, as we have discovered, it is about quality not quantity.

Business intelligence and planning are increasingly enabling more nuanced pictures of organizational performance, weaknesses, trends and opportunities. Every organization is aware of the potential of data but how many of us actually fully trust our data to not just inform decisions and drive revenue, but enhance customer experiences? This is something we had to confront as an organization. We install products for the petroleum industry and wanted to improve our customer service capability. We needed to know more about our assets and customers to really understand where we were working well and where we needed to improve.

It sounds easy but it’s not always straightforward. Data sources can be complex, inconsistent and incompatible. Different departments tend to have different systems and as a result, work in relative isolation. It’s one thing moving from manual processes to digital processes, but it’s quite another connecting departments with data and creating a common approach to how the entire organization manages its customers.

Nuts and bolts

For us, it was imperative that we found a way to improve our understanding of customers across the business. We started with a platform — ServiceMax — that enabled us to consistently track issues that customers raised regarding our assets. Our thinking was that if we could have a complete picture of how assets are being used by each customer, including any performance and service issues, we could not just work together to react better, we could also predict, plan and personalize customer services across departments.

This ability to accurately and in some cases automatically track asset data has increasing value to the whole organization — from bill of materials, operations, IT, product design, sales, customer support, marketing and so on. This asset data can actually help deliver game changing customer experience and yet it is perhaps one of the most under exploited data sources within organizations today. The proliferation of data from machines, devices and IoT sensors has thrust service teams onto center stage. And the knock-on effects are considerable.

For example, from a service point of view, we’ve seen a 20% increase in technician utilization. We are working smarter in our field service provision, optimizing the service function. Every technician is now more engaged and contributing data from on-site visits, adding to the intelligence feed and enabling us to make decisions quickly, such as suggesting upgrades, upselling services or offering new pricing structures. More importantly, we’re making these decisions based on a set of trusted data.

Building trust

Our service data feeds back to other departments from sales to IT, marketing, customer support and even how we design our products. In fact, it’s because we’ve recognized the growing value of our service and asset data that we can deliver a game changing customer experience.

This includes quick and accurate collaboration on customer needs, but also opportunities to improve customer experiences, whether that’s offering new products at the optimum time of need, improved deals or in most cases, quick and efficient machine fixes. Given that so many of our customers are in the remote oilfields of North Dakota in the US, this can be challenging. We also use the offline capabilities within our field service management system, which allows our technicians to continue working even when they’re offline. It means technicians can access customer and equipment information, or capture service remotely, regardless of internet connectivity. This is critical for rural areas, oil rigs and even under ground. You need consistent and accurate insight and that means working from the same centralized data, enabling sales teams, for example to know whether or not new systems or parts are available to a particular customer, at any point in time.

We also track warranty terms for all of our customers’ products, whether we have installed them or not. This ensures customers aren’t invoiced for anything that is covered under a manufacturer warranty. We also help to automate compliance reporting through the platform. There’s a lot of regulation in the oil and gas industry, and this saves valuable time and ensures our data accuracy. We're equipping our team with the best forms and checklists to gather all of the essential data that will drive our success with our customers.

All these day-to-day process efficiencies add-up. It’s these small things that make a big difference. For example, ServiceMax DataGuide means all our forms are automatically and proactively sent to the technician, known fields are already pre-populated, and once complete they’re automatically sent to the respective government agency. It helps technicians focus specifically on the information critical to the job, while efficiently capturing and presenting data in support of a range of tasks. The whole process is automated, boosts productivity and reduces administrative time, which technicians love, and eliminates costly errors and facilitates compliance. And in turn, it translates to better service for customers.

Insight and intelligence build trust and customers recognize our role in their own efficiency, and how we are trying to improve their lives across the board. We and our customers are almost certainly working smarter as a result.

By using our service data we have raised the bar, operating at a new level of professionalism that our customers enjoy. When they have a question, we have a quick and accurate answer, consistent across the organization. In our industry, service really does drive sales, which is why we invested in service.

If you have not yet started exploiting and harnessing your own service and asset data, I’d urge you to do so. You’re missing an undiscovered, untapped well of intelligence for revenue growth and customer satisfaction at a time when margins matter more than ever. Service data remains one of the most far-reaching and yet under exploited data sources within organizations. The better your service department is, the better your sales and customer satisfaction will be.

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