Field Service Strategy: Evolution of Support Systems through IT and Customer Service Partnership

Chris Colla, Director-IT & Operational Excellence, Haier America and Jay Reynolds, VP-Consumer Services, Haier America
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Chris Colla, Director-IT & Operational Excellence, Haier America

Chris Colla, Director-IT & Operational Excellence, Haier America

Haier America has enjoyed steady growth in its little more than sixteen years in the US market. Several years ago a decision was made to recruit leaders within the industry with vast experience in building a major brand. This was to support the remaking of the company and dramatically increase the velocity of the growth road map by elevating the brand in the U.S. to a position in line with that which Haier’s enjoys in other part of the globe. This article highlights Haier’s IT and Field Service teams working together to contribute to the company’s vision and serve as an example of Operation Excellence at the new Haier.

“Technology is an indispensable tool that can allow service leaders to do more with less in today’s world we call that adapting to the “new normal”

“The Information Technology for the field service functional group at Haier is a combination of a User Interface, Process Architecture, and Infrastructure to strategically align the IT strategy to the business,” says Chris Colla, Director of IT & Operational Excellence.

“The implementation of Call Expert has given the function of customer and field service a distinct competitive advantage to through innovation. The business requirements were customized into this highly flexible and innovative technology,” states Jay Reynolds, VP Consumer Services.

Chris Colla leads Haier IT department and I the Service team. We both joined in 2011 and have collaborated to dramatically improve our customer service capability through development of robust process architecture. The legacy system consisted of a global instance or SAP and a customized AS400 application with limited customer service functionality. There were many manual workarounds and ad hoc applications in Excel and Access making visibility and reporting unreliable and inconsistent.

Four years later the current landscape includes; Service Power for service provider dispatching and warranty claims processing, SAP CRM (on premise) with plans for utilizing SAP’s Cloud for Service offering utilizing SAP Cloud for Customers (C4C) & HANA cloud integration (HCI). The addition of a custom built service event tracking system named “Call Expert” has contributed to the rise in customer satisfaction rating rising from 39 percent in February 2012, to 89 percent currently.

The “Call Expert’ system developed by John Sthir of DEXWELL grew out of repair tracking requirements Haier service developed over the first 2 years of operation.Our experience led us to believe that development of “Field Service Strategy” is more art than science. The central premise of “Delighting Customers” assumes a convenient, speedy and hassle free experience. Two of the elements are subjective, “convenient, and hassle free” (the art) and only 1 “speedy” (science), lends itself to objective KPI management. Looking at the offering of most off- the-shelf tracking solutions we found great capability around the science of things and very little to support the art. The melding of all the lessons learned from our customer touch points fashion a marriage of system features and operator profile resulting in what we believe is the most innovative tracking solution we ever had.

Last year Adrian Micu took over as the CEO of Haier America. Through his leadership the IT department is now accountable for more than just application development and system maintenance, adding responsibility for “Operational Excellence” which gave rise to increased opportunity of collaboration with a wide range of departments throughout the company.

Haier’s IT team has done an outstanding job starting with an analysis of the process architecture and future needs of all Haier departments they have developed a roadmap that layouts the utilization of IT resources so that all functions are coordinated and integrated optimally toward efficient and effective functionality.

Service has worked very closely with IT to integrate support system and make sure they operate reliably and effectively. Their current collaborative project is a reverse logistics management web based portal utilizing a cloud based system from “ReverseLogix”. ReverseLogix was selected earlier this year after an extensive evaluation of a RFP issued at the end of 2014. The hope is to improve the process speed and visibility of product returns while making it easier to track the liquidation function through end to end integration of all the sub processes. The pilot is slated to launch end of May.

The service team feels developing a 5 year strategic service plan is a good first step to designing a world class field service program. Start by assessing the current program performance and then determine where it needs to be to meet or exceed what the business will require going forward. The ultimate metric for service should always be based on the “perception” of the customer for which the service is provided. This could be as simple as a customer satisfaction survey or a variant of a “NetPromoter” score, etc. All other metrics; such as, turn-around time, first time fix, tech on site, call center speed of answer, abandon rate and the rest of the myriad of process measurements available are all just diagnostic. This is critical to understand when optimizing the process for cost once the primary goals are achieved.

Start with the question;
“What does my customer expect”?

Next;
“What does the customer want”?

Jay Reynolds, VP-Consumer Services, Haier America

Achieving “customer delight” requires surpassing the customer expectations and even desires which are best handled at the customer “touch points”. Touch points should be comprised of empathic professionals ready to “break the rules” in order to deliver a WOW experience. The service associate’s profile should take into account their temperament, intelligence, personality and ethics. The key point is to start with the service associate’s natural talent then leverage IT’s “Operation Excellence” to supercharge service capability thus delivering on the service team’s mission of “Winning with the Customer”.

Technology is an indispensable tool that can allow service leaders to do more with less in today’s world we call that adapting to the “new normal”. Technology only, no matter how powerful, cannot replace the empathic professional assessment of an individual customer’s expectations and perceptions in order to stay one step ahead in the process and thus avoid becoming trapped in a no win situation. This is what has led to the Haier’s Service/IT partnership. This collaboration is making a great contribution to the growth and rising awareness of the Haier brand. Together we will continue to develop better system to support the company’s goal of becoming the number one brand in the US for appliances, air conditioning and product for a digital life.

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