If you happen to visit Walt Disney World in Florida, and happen to find yourself, having waited in line for 2 hours, sitting in the cool, dark, somewhat stinky boats-on-rails of the It’s a Small World ride, you may notice, as you depart the ride, a farewell addressed specifically to you. As I braced myself for reemergence into the blistering Orlando sun, “Goodbye, Tom” appeared on a screen, next to a small kewpie-looking boy wearing a red beret and striped shirt.

What’s happening is that a near-field communication device is sensing riders’ Magic Bands—colorful wristbands that are individualized for parkgoers. These function as hotel keys, as well as, conveniently enough, means of paying for things in every restaurant and gift shop in the park. They also contain profile information for the wearer, which is what’s specifically being broadcast on the screen at the end of the ride.

This isn’t a particularly sophisticated level of personalization, but it is a potent one, especially for children (and apparently adult marketers). It’s a (hollow as it is) reminder that you’re not just a line on a balance sheet for a massive media conglomerate—you’re a human being, with, if nothing else, a first name that they can put up on a screen. It’s not much, but it’s enough.

This is obviously a simple example of the power of personalization, but it is really only the tip of the iceberg. In service, there are dozens of personalization points, from appointment scheduling, to connected asset management, to form prepopulation, to knowing when a customer’s kid’s birthday is, and each have their own benefits, may they be operational, or in terms of customer retention. Below I’ll outline a few specific examples of how businesses are building personalization into their service journeys in an effort to save time, money, and relationships.

Before we get into it, as a baseline, the key here is have a profile of business conditions for each customer. This will manifest itself as the conditions of an SLA agreement, specific outcomes derived from within, or status of ancillary agreements or connected systems. We’ll explore a few small examples of these below.

Planning and Scheduling
There are a number of personalization stories that can be told at the planning and scheduling phase, but let’s specifically use this as an opportunity to think about scheduled maintenance. Setting a recurring cadence of appointments to service X number of assets is generally fine to put into the customers’ hands, but by managing that process yourself, not only are you ensuring consistent interaction, but also hopefully heading off challenges before they happen. There may not be that much divergence between customers, but if you work in an asset-intensive industry, there will be lifecycles to take into consideration, historical health, and environmental factors that make building a customer-by-customer cadence an imperative to success, here.

The other big piece of personalization that can happen at this stage is related to a tenet of outcomes-based service: guaranteed turnaround times. Not too long ago Sarah sat down with David Douglas from Scientific Games, whose company offers some customers a 90-minute guaranteed resolution times. To get that right, that information needs to be available the moment a ticket is pulled.

From a technology standpoint, these two examples, and dozens of others, speak to a necessity within planning and scheduling, which is that doing it alone is not enough. If, upon ticket generation, you just get a list of SLA requirements, that you have to take into consideration, that’s functionally useless. Having backoffice and/or a technician keep all that straight while trying to actually do their job is an impossibility. For personalization to work, the parameters of personalization need to be built into the way that the systems actually operate. So when a customer with a 90-minute guaranteed turnaround comes into the queue, they need to be automatically put at the top, and ideally, have routing, planning, and scheduling optimized for them in real-time.

Warranty Claims Management
Warranty management is another key area where personalization can make a substantial difference, and it derives itself from, first, having that information automatically populated into the service system, not tied to a device’s serial number, or some sort of customer account that they need to access. As soon as a claim is raised, it should be handled appropriately.

If you have tiered claims, as well, it’s important to make sure that the system reflects that in real-time. So—if a customer is guaranteed a loaner, that loaner should be immediately allocated when a claim is raised.

All of these examples speak to a broad truth that’s key in getting personalization right: the entirety of your service process, from beginning to end, needs to be logged, monitored, and managed in a system—or series of systems—that speak the same language, function with the same ruleset, and honor the same conditions. Personalization, at its heart starts with automation, and getting automation right means feeding the right data into your systems at every step of the process. It requires a significant amount of upfront work, but it’ll pay dividends in time saved and customer relationships improved.

Tom Paquin

Contributor, Future of Field Service