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Who doesn’t like an end of the year list? It gives us a quick and easy way to spend some lazy days during a holiday week, and also recap and remember some important lessons learned throughout the year.

2014 has been another great year for service leaders and for innovations in delivering resolution. Over the past 12 months, I have covered some very interesting topics and highlighted a number of intriguing finding which will continue to impact service into the coming New Year. But I decided to pick out seven trends that I found most impactful on the future of service excellence:

–          Remote Service / the Internet of Things. The buzz around IoT has led to some skepticism in regard to the value and staying power of this concept. For me, the importance of this concept is tied to improved resolution, first-time fix based on better insight into failures, and predictive / proactive service model evolution. The impact goes beyond service, as seen in my recent report, smart products and machines can help as manufacturing searches for future innovations.

–          Service Strategy & the CSO. Collaboration with other business functions has helped the Best-in-Class reap the profitability that the C-suite has noticed. No longer is service an afterthought which is reacting to a break. From a secret to becoming the answer, service has shown that it can be a driver of value – both to the customer and to top line growth.

–          Reverse Logistics: The Right Parts Throughout the Service Chain. Parts management is another oft forgotten aspect of service. Without the right parts, can the field resolve issues? No fault parts should still have value, right? The impact of efficiently managing the reverse service chain has the opportunity to move the meter in regard to profitability, operational efficiency, and customer expectations. Reverse logistics historically has been looked to solely to drive down costs, but as seen in Aberdeen research, this function has the opportunity to drive the customer experience and profitability goals.

–          Wearables and the Technician: Watch Out for Future of Resolution. Smart watches and augmented reality glasses have been talked about all year. Adoption of wearables, specifically for field service, is relatively low within Aberdeen’s sample. However, interest in the topic and expectations for future use shows promise. As the technology continues to evolve beyond the consumer world to more applicability for business, I expect this trend to see a few more eyes within field service.

–          Gamify Service Performance: Beyond Incentives to Achieve Excellence. In the advent of enhanced analytics tools, recent research highlighted that we now have access to real-time performance data all the way down to the technician level. This advancement opens up an opportunity to not only monitor but reward specific behaviors occurring in the field. How do you get the service team to focus on the right behaviors and not just what is easiest; track, report, and reward the behaviors which lead to the right outcomes.

–          Field Service Evolution / Mobility. Five years ago when I started at Aberdeen, field service was primarily about scheduling and internal operational efficiencies. This is no longer the sole priority for service organizations and OEMs as detailed in our 2014 field service research. The field service team has become integral in building partnerships with customers and is now judged on metrics such as satisfaction, retention, first-time fix, and asset up-time.

–          Fleet Management Plays a Bigger Role in Field Service Excellence. The van and truck clearly play a role in aiding in the delivery of service. A tech can’t resolve a customer issue without having a way to the customer site. Historically, fleet management was graded on fuel usage and cost cutting, my current findings identified the importance of the fleet on refining driving behavior to improve field service resolution.

These trends have shown a measureable impact on the service business this year. I look forward to tracking all of these topics in 2015, as I don’t expect them to fade in importance. What are the top service trends which impacted your business this year?

Aly Pinder Jr
Senior Research Analyst
Service Management
aly.pinder@aberdeen.com or @pinderjr

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