If your products could tell you how to save millions of dollars in the costly post-sale supply chain, would you listen? Well, they can. The products your customers are using have been speaking for years via machine log files, pointing to issues with software, infrastructure capacity, configuration, hardware, and more—all of which cause high support-related costs. But for the most part, this talk has fallen on deaf ears.
Because log files generate so much data, and each piece of equipment generates many log files, aggregating and making sense of them has been too complex and time-consuming for most companies. However, with recent advances in machine data analytics, leveraging Voice of Product is not only very doable, it's imperative.
By using Voice of Product, you can reduce post-sale supply chain costs in four key areas:
- Uptime/tech support,
- Field labor, and
Imagine if you knew that a component in a particular product at a particular customer site was on its last legs. Consider the impact if you could replace that part before it caused the machine to stop working. Voice of Product provides the visibility and insights needed to predict and address potential problems before they can affect your customers, and before they trigger more thorough and expensive intervention.
When problems do occur – because even the best-built products sometimes break down – machine data enables tech support to react quickly and with greater accuracy. This can have far-reaching implications, when you consider that support representatives are measured by the length, or rather the brevity, of their customer interactions. Instead of caving to pressure to move quickly to the next caller by ordering “guesstimate” replacement parts that don't end up fixing the problem and result in even longer downtime, agents accurately diagnose issues and get products back up and running much faster, sometimes without sending new parts. Plus, many issues that previously had to be escalated, causing per-event costs to go up, can be resolved by Tier 1 support.
When you're not sure what caused a breakdown, one of two things generally happens. Either you end up sending repeat dispatches because the first, and maybe the second and third, best-guess replacement parts didn't solve the problem, or you dispatch multiple parts in the same order, sort of like throwing pasta against the wall to see what sticks. All of this complicates processing and unnecessarily consumes inventory that could be used for other cases, increasing costs.
By precisely diagnosing root causes you can send the exact part needed to fix products and significantly reduce multi- and repeat dispatches. You also reduce costly No Trouble Found instances, where returned and assumed-to-be-broken parts are analyzed by your repair team and found to be working.
In addition, proactively sending replacement parts to avert predicted problems also saves you money. Proactive dispatches are typically sent from a central warehouse, where inventory doesn't have to be quickly replaced. This is in contrast to when replacement parts must get to customer sites ASAP to fix failed products. In those cases, parts are dispatched from local field depots, where inventory is lower and must be immediately replenished.
When tech support doesn't know what caused a break down, or if it's inaccurately diagnosed, field engineers are often sent to figure out and fix it. On-site visits to repair business-to-business technology products can cost upwards of $200 per visit. And according to Aberdeen Research, 25% of product failures require multiple labor dispatches. Either they take too long to diagnose and the engineers have to move on to another case, or they didn't have the correct replacement parts on hand.
If, however, machine data is used to diagnosis the problem up front, field support can get right to fixing it, with correct parts having been sent by tech support.
Even better, Voice of Product might tell you field support isn't needed. In fact, in seven to 25% of cases, truck rolls are avoidable.
Voice of Product impacts logistics costs in a variety of ways, such as:
- By reducing repeat and multi-part dispatches, you reduce the amount of shipping that needs to take place.
- When you're proactively shipping hardware to avoid a future failure, you can use less expensive transportation. For instance, instead of a same-day shipment that costs $400, which would be required if the product had broken down, you could send it via two-day shipping for about $40.
The more visibility you have into what's happening with your products in the field, the better equipped you'll be to improve product uptime, handle inevitable product failures, and turn what could be negative, costly events into positive, cost-effective customer experiences.