W. Ryan Snellings, VP, Field Services & Support, Fresenius Kabi
Like anyone else, I have often been caught up in all the new technologies that have come into the market the last several years. I have been to the conferences and ran through the auditorium like a kid at Christmas. I have visited the seller’s headquarters in awe of the automated conference room. I have enjoyed many of the annual product shows that have been highlighting the benefits of the next new thing and give you the sense that you, and only you, are light years ahead of the curve. There is no denying the progress made in service software, automation and remote diagnostics and its connection through the Internet of Things (IoT). The possibilities are exciting, endless and absolutely crucial in order to maintain pace with competitors and meet customers increased expectations. But there is one tool and one resource that have slowly lost priority in the effort to win the service technology race: engagement and people.
I look back at 2016 and reflect on all the time, money and effort put into improving our performance through technology, a must in order to compete in the medical device industry, and any other industry for that matter. There wasn’t a week that didn’t go by that return on investment wasn’t lobbied back and forth between company and vendor, all in an effort to reduce capital, improve licensing, and shorten implementation time. Maybe you’re used to hearing you need to upgrade because your technology is no longer supported. What about that RFP process? The time involved in choosing the technology can be a grueling effort. And of course, once that process is complete, you then realize you took too long in the RFP process and the new technology you set your sights on is out dated and no longer supported, so you start the cycle over again and again, finally realizing if you aren’t yet connected, you just aren’t competitive.
Keeping Employees the Center of Attention
The progression of technology within the field service sector has presented lucrative business opportunities over the past few years.
Think about your technology selection process and the time, money, and effort put into identifying areas for improvement
Technology today has the ability to contribute to decrease field training time and on-boarding, lower cost, improved customer response rates and increased productivity. All of these benefits are ideal to an organization, but maybe we are so focused on the next innovative technology that we’re missing the mark. What about Monica on the hotline support team, Jon, our field service engineer, Nick in our depot operation, Steve in the consulting role, or Alicia and Jeff in forecasting and planning? Our focal point for future decisions and plans must be centered on our most high priority resource—our employees.
Take a minute. Think about your technology selection process and the time, money, and effort put into identifying areas for improvement. We have all been there, and it is a necessary practice that we must all go through in order to get the best value and the most progress. Now, imagine putting that same time and effort into the individuals within your organization. What if we focused on improving their skills, confidence, and most importantly, their human connectivity? This is where possibility and progress is truly limitless in the field service industry. Service is about the people, your employees and your customers. With a focus on employee engagement, and furthermore, customer engagement, you can get a real sense of the needs and wants of your customer and make a real impact that tools and technology can harness, but not deliver like confident, engaged employees can.
“Customers will feel it, potential candidates will want to be a part of it, and your return on investment will be highly profitable, both in people and bottom line.”
Keeping Pace on Two Fronts
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about which factor affects customer experience, revenue, cost efficiency, and employee productivity more: technology or engagement? With the different generations and demographics in one organization there may not be one clear, all-encompassing answer. It’s an unsettling thought to drive forward with one, only to get to the end of the road and realize you took a wrong turn, so why not both?
I am a big advocate of technological movement we are experiencing in the field service industry and have been involved with several RFP’s to help our organization move forward. It is an exciting time for our company and our industry and I can’t wait to see what product offering comes next. But we must remember that we can invest our time and capital in both technology and people. We can create a culture of progressive human capital and technological advancement if we don’t forget who, not what, our most valuable resource is. The next time you are in the market for a new technolgy, make the decision with a bottom up approach and get the end users involved in both product identification and implementation. Engaging our employees from the beginning can result in a better return on investment (ROI). It will allow you to design and implement change. But perhaps of utmost importance, it will engage the commitment of your people and empower them to produce truly breakthrough results.