Dynamic Tools Drive Post-Sales Service

Sept. 14, 2015
Fast, efficient field service support ensures ongoing customer satisfaction. The following article is from an interview with David O’Leary, UPS Vice President of Post Sales/Contract Logistics. This article is sponsored by UPS.

Rapid Response

Speed is one of the key elements of post-sales support that is consistent across industry sectors.  The terms of the post-sales service contract spell out what needs to happen and what needs to happen fast.

Tip Number 1:  Everything doesn’t have to happen at hyper-speed.  Use the service contract to define critical needs requiring rapid response.

Differentiating on Service

Post-sales service has become a market differentiator in the high tech industry.  And as service logistics has matured it has evolved its own distinct supply chain, which includes transportation and logistics, technical repairs, and end of product life.

This supply chain is often fragmented and not well integrated.  High tech companies want to connect their post-sales service supply chain from a visibility and technology perspective to drive efficiencies and improve service to the end customer.

Tip Number 2:  Improve visibility in the service supply chain to drive gains in efficiency and customer service.

Focus in the Field

Post-sales service comes together at the customer’s site.  Improving the efficiency of the field service technician can spell big gains in customer service and customer satisfaction. 

Next-day response can rely on rapid transportation to move needed parts and materials from a centralized location to the field service technician or customer location where the service technician will perform a repair, replacement, or upgrade. 

Critical response- often same day - relies on field stocking locations and a rapid-response network. 

Balancing these two very different needs without overbuilding or overstocking the supply chain means taking advantage of highly developed logistics and data resources.

Field stocking locations provide the rapid response needed for mission-critical service needs, but visibility and stocking levels can get out of hand quickly.  Small field stocking locations near customer sites help many high tech companies remain responsive to customer emergencies. 

Tip Number 3:  To ensure the efficiency of field technicians, parts can be held or delivered to a UPS pickup counter, UPS Store, or a growing network of retail access points near the technician, or the end customer site.

Centralize Strategic Stocks

A central stocking location with access to premium transportation services can satisfy many of the needs of next-day service and keep inventory visible without building huge stockpiles. 

The combination of centralized stocking and limited, mission-critical field stocking can provide better control of inventory levels without compromising service.

Tip Number 4: Many high tech companies locate their critical parts at or near the UPS Worldport hub at the Louisville International Airport.  Emergency shipments can be injected into the global transportation network as late as 1:00 a.m.

Take a Network View

Planning the information and goods flows for both forward and reverse distribution enhances the efficiency of the field technician by reducing touch points.

This network approach has a benefit as a reverse supply chain to take back unused parts for restocking or used or obsolete parts for repair or recovery and disposal. 

Whether handling service parts outbound to technicians or returns from the field, one of the goals of any post-sales supply chain strategy is to reduce complexity and the number of touchpoints throughout the process.  This type of fluid network helps provide dynamic scheduling for technicians, improving their efficiency and the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the service network. 

Connected to a global fulfillment system with sophisticated logistics, data, and financial systems that reach into developed and developing markets, the same level of service can be extended to the end customer, resulting in a win in the post-sales service race anywhere in the world.

Tip Number 5:  The same systems that schedule critical deliveries can generate return documents to route unused or recyclable parts to their appropriate destination and reduce handling and paperwork for field technicians while gaining better control of inventory.