Customer Experience in the Multi-Partner Model of Field Service Delivery

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1 Customer Experience in the Multi-Partner Model of Field Service Delivery Interview with Brian Crouthers and Robert Hess from ViaSat Communications, Colorado, USA. Conducted in Colorado by Szymon Uczciwek, COMARCH. COMARCH: Customer Experience can be defined on different levels. One of the definitions says that customer experience (CX) is the sum of all experiences at various touch points a customer has with a supplier of goods and/or services over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. This can include awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy. It can also be used to mean an individual experience over one transaction (Source Wiki.org). From my experience in the telecommunications industry, customer experience may be considered from at least three perspectives: delivered product perspective i.e. what the customer gets for the money, the quality of the delivered product or service and the way in which the customer interacts with the supplier. What does Customer Experience mean for you? Brian: You are right, when looked at from a broader perspective; customer experience can be defined as each of the three mentioned aspects. In simple words, the customer must be happy with the product or service, with the way in which it s delivered and with its quality. From my perspective as a director who manages the field service department, the main focus is to serve each customer in a way that is most convenient for him / her. Most of our field services are related to installations and service calls. In both of these cases, setting an appointment and performing a quick installation or fixing a problem are crucial to achieve full satisfaction at the service end point. We ve introduced all the necessary tools to enable customers to set the time of the technician s visit during the first call. We ve found that it s really important, both for acquiring new customers and better serving the existing ones who are experiencing any kind of issue related to our product. Rob: Of course this is only one of our methods to increase client satisfaction. Imagine a customer who was booked for an installation service during the first call, scheduled for to the next day, between 3 PM and 6 PM. He leaves work earlier, and gets home to be there when the technician arrives, but nobody comes. He will probably resign from the product. So it s very important to monitor, whether the booked appointments are really executed on time. When the whole process is based on real technician availability, it is easier to abide to set visit times, but we always have to take some unforeseen circumstances into account. This is why we monitor in real time whether or not meetings are conducted according to the plan and always try to meet the first scheduled date and time. As a satellite service provider we deliver our services all over the US, which is why we rely on subcontractors in terms of field service. In such a distributed service delivery model getting the right level of customer satisfaction is much trickier.

2 ViaSat Communications The company that acquired WildBlue Communications is ViaSat s two-way satellite Internet service provider division. Serving over 600,000 subscribers in the United States, the company offers services to home and business customers directly and via resellers including DISH and the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC). In January 2012, ViaSat launched a new, much faster satellite Internet service called Exede by ViaSat. The service increases the speed and capacity of satellite Internet dramatically through the use of the ViaSat highcapacity satellite system, which includes the 140 Gbit/s ViaSat-1 satellite.

3 COMARCH: I understand you decided to outsource all of your field service to external suppliers is it just one company, a few big subcontractors or a whole network? Brian: As Rob has already mentioned, in order to cover all the states we have to deal with different subcontractors. Having our own field workforce support such a large area would be costly and very challenging in terms of time management. With the way our business works, it is almost impossible to work with just one partner, so we deal with many companies and each one views customer experience differently. We have our own team of fire fighters to deal with complex or emergency situations; the rest of our field service is outsourced to other companies. Robert: These subcontractors vary we deal with large fulfillment partners who cover multiple states and have their own wellorganized structures. We also deal with a network of smaller partners self-employed technicians, who cover smaller areas. A third party may have different priorities than we do and we also have limited influence over individuals who are not our employees. COMARCH: B y definition, outsourcing should be based on strictly defined KPIs, which must be met by the contractor. It is aimed to make any process simpler - instead of having to manage your own workforce, you pay and demand isn t it like that? Brian: Outsourcing means that the work is provided on customer location by a third party. This does not change the fact that it is still our customer, and ViaSat is the supplier of the final product. Of course, we have strictly defined KPIs in place, and it helps to motivate subcontractors to care about our customer experience. The most important factor is that the settlements between every contractor and our company are precisely defined. It would be too risky to just leave everything in the hands of a third party. We have an advanced product that works really well, but today a good product is not enough for a telecom company to compete on the market. You have to win customers with excellent service. This is why we decided to support the delivery of ViaSat services with our own tools. From the time of the sale to a new customer, installation of services and customer support post installation, these processes are all supported by Comarch Field Service Management (FSM).

4 Technicians access the system through their smartphones or tablets, using a special application managed by our company, which enables them to finish work, provide our product on the customer s site and close the order. Such a toolset helps us automate certain processes, such as provisioning, remote diagnosis, etc. Having our field staff equipped with access to the FSM system provides them with the possibility to interact with our other IT systems and activate or change the product on location, without extensive efforts. In fact, considering a 6-hour difference between time zones and thousands of miles between the customer location and our headquarters, it wouldn t even be possible. COMARCH: So how exactly should you divide responsibilities between a field service subcontractor and a provider of a final product / service? Which parts of the process did you outsource and which ones stayed inhouse at ViaSat? Robert: From the technology perspective, the end-to-end process is still managed by ViaSat. The FSM tool supports this process at every step. When we look at the people involved in the process, the process is divided between us and third parties. Here s what the process looks like. Orders get createdby external sales teams, the system assigns these orders to outsourced field workforce, usually automatically), then dispatchers (who in most cases work on a subcontractor s side) monitor these assignments. Field technicians get their tasks through mobile devices and once they execute these tasks, the system automatically closes them. All of these people involved are employees of our suppliers, so in this respect the process is totally outsourced. ViaSat s involvement is only required when there is a problem or in the case of smaller / local tasks that are covered by our own technicians. Brian: That s true, but on the other hand we have full insight into the process, we can monitor it at every step and react when anything goes wrong. This way we can, for example, provide special support for a new inexperienced technician. So in fact no part of the process is fully outsourced to a third party. From our viewpoint, this is the best approach. We rely on automation tools, we track the whole process, we know exactly who will execute the task but we do not have to interfere with how the workforce is organized on the subcontractor s side. Subcontractors define the availability of their resources themselves, based on workforce capacity, skills and areas covered. We based the performance of these outsourced fulfillment and assurance processes on strict KPIs that are important for our business. We outsource processes and workforce activities, but do not outsource the responsibility and control over these processes.

5 COMARCH: You mentioned that automating the process is important. From the technology perspective, what technological improvements do you see as mandatory to make field service optimal from both your company s perspective and that of your customers? Brian: Automating the process is crucial, I m quite sure about that. Once the order is created, the scheduling that follows must be automated. I think it is necessary that all parties involved in the process can at all times access their work orders and calendars. Centralized management of field service delivery requires tools that can collect certain events and allow us to react accordingly. I am talking about potential events during the process that may affect our KPIs. A customer escalation is a good example. Once customer service registers an escalation, the information gets propagated via the FSM system to a responsible party, who should react. At this stage we do not participate in the process. However, if the escalation is not resolved immediately, then we must get involved. ROBERT HESS Field Operations Manager of Systems and Support ViaSat Communications Denver, Colorado Robert has been with ViaSat for over 6 years, and was part of the initial FSM implementation team. During his time with ViaSat he has been directly in charge of the Installer Relations and Partner Support teams responsible for field technician and FSM support. Roberts teams covers a wide variety of functions from supporting over 6000 technicians and dealers dealers via phone and , to managing all of those users and work orders in the Field Service Management system (FSM). Mobility is another important factor that supports automation once tasks are assigned, they can immediately be allocated to a responsible technician (without a need for an office visit or time-consuming explanations), together with all data needed to perform a given field activity. Rob: From a technology perspective, the IT solution supporting the process must also be well integrated. In the case of field activity there is no space for swivel chair integration (i.e. copying data from one system and pasting it into another one). The technician must activate the service on site, be able to check signal quality and send necessary data to the billing system, all with the use of one single tool. There is no room for mistakes in our business. When a technician drives three hours to install a service in the mountains, he can t go back later to fix or finish his work he must do it on his first visit. The FSM system that we use also enables us to automatically generate reports related to our specific settlements with subcontractors and to monitor all KPIs. I think these functions that we named here are the most important in terms of how field service can contribute to enhancing your customer experience. COMARCH: Automation, mobile access to necessary data and tools, monitoring the process and the KPIs. Is that all you need to achieve excellence in customer experience? Brian: In an ideal world, it may be. But in reality we must constantly monitor the quality of the delivered service, looking not only at the technical perspective, but also at the customer s perception of the provided service quality. We perform audits for selected work orders and check various measures related to technical and non-technical aspects of the service. Well-documented work orders (complete with measures and pictures) help us to go through the first quality check, which is done remotely. But in order to truly improve the quality of service, field audits are crucial BRIAN CROUTHERS and we cannot resign from them. Director of Field COMARCH: Do you face the same challenges with quality Operations audits performed in the field, as you mentioned ViaSat Communications with regards to delivering a service in vast, Denver, Colorado rural areas? Rob: Technology helps resolve many of the issues that we encounter here. First of all, auditors have on-site access to all data related to work orders and to qualitymeasurements.that s crucial, but it is not everything. It is necessary to determine locations that need to be checked those with the highest risk related to service quality. We found Comarch FSM to be very helpful, also in this space. The system ranks work orders and indicates those with a really high Brian has been with ViaSat for 6 years and has been directly responsible for the Field Operations team during this entire time. Brian is directly responsible for the field installation teams to include training, logistics, vendor management, Quality, technician support and system support.

6 probability of quality issues. I won t reveal all the aspects of this sophisticated mechanism, let me just say that it calculates both obvious factors, like the result of the last audit and the trickier aspects, such asmeasuring the preformance of each individual technician. If the given technician fails an audit of his work, he may expect another one. At the beginning, when we introduced order ranking, 80% of all audited tasks didn t pass the audits. Now it is less than 50%. COMARCH: Was it really so bad? Maybe the survey questions were too detailed or too strict? Brian: On the contrary, it was so good (laughing). We used the same surveys as before. The audit procedure, excluding the mobility part, was also performed according to our previous standards. The ranking tool pointed out work orders necessary for auditing, so our auditors didn t have to waste their time anymore on auditing services where the quality was high. That was a huge and positive change. COMARCH: What about a situation when a customer complains about a technician s visit? What are the usual reasons for such complaints and how do you face them? Rob: Outsourcing field workforce is a game where sometimes not all the parties play fair. Thanks to the fact that the whole process is documented, we have photographic documentation of all field activities, so we can reasonably face customer complaints related to private property damage or even theft. Having good, quality data enables us to easily check what had really happened and professionally resolve the problem. This way we can turn even the most unpleasant circumstances into a situation that builds a positive customer experience. COMARCH: As a final question, can you provide some key takeaways for other service providers? A lot of them are currently considering resigning from outsourcing completely, as the cost proves to be too high and the quality is below their expectations. You are an example of a company where outsourcing really works. Do you have some advice for these other companies? Brian: It depends on the business conditions. For example, as in our case, building your own workforce in all covered regions may not be reasonable. In this situation, dealing with subcontractors is the only way to do business. At the same time I can t imagine that this crucial process would be simply left without our control at every stage. We trust and rely on our partners, but we can t risk that any issues on their side would affect our business and our relationship with ViaSat customers. Fortunately, technology allows us to do it with limited risk. COMARCH: Brian, Rob thank you for your time and letting us take a little peek behind the scenes of your business, I am sure this will be a great insight for many other service providers that read our magazine.

7 telecom.comarch.com Why Comarch Comarch Field Service Management enabled ViaSat to automate order and resource management processes, which has enabled us to provide an excellent customer experience in fulfilling customer orders. Brian Crouthers, Director of Field Operations, ViaSat Inc. Comarch Headquarters Al. Jana Pawla II 39 a Krakow Poland phone: fax: About Comarch Comarch is a global supplier of IT products and services for the telecommunications industry and has been present on the market since Comarch provides solutions in the areas of BSS/OSS, M2M and Cloud Service platforms, as well as a range of Managed Services. Comarch s uniqueness lies not only in the compliance of its products with industry standards, but also in the flexibility and high competences of its engineers. Having completed projects for over 50 telecom operators, Comarch has accumulated vast experience in the fields of designing, implementing, and integrating IT solutions. Current customers include Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2, E-Plus, MTS or KPN. More information: telecom.comarch.com

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