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How to improve predictability of after sales service needs

The demanding electronic products are and should be constantly developed. When the after sales services are involved in the upgrading of the producs and processes, the capabilities and competences will stay aligned and ready to support business straight away.

It is also important to understand and get as reliable forecasts as possible about the product performance. With this information the after sales services (not just the repair center) can adjust their capabilities and capacities according to the real need. Better predictability of repair needs helps to streamline the total after sales process.

If the forecasts and involvement of after sales services are failing, the consequences are crucial: the end customer may not get service in agreed time – or not at all. E.g. when new systems or products are implemented, one failing part without no support ready can lead to a situation where the whole system or product can be out of use.

Predictability should be a part of Total Cost of Ownership

In order to align total efficiency and cost, the predictability of repair needs should be part of Total Cost of Ownership concept. Success in predictability has an impact to total cost and further more, it also has a very important role in maintaining high customer satisfaction.

One way to measure predictability is to set and follow it as one KPI. However, your should separate the KPI’s for normal products and the NPI (New Product Introduction) and also follow them separately. If all products are included in the same KPI follow-ups, the “mass volume” products (which should anyway be in order) have too large influence on the outcome. This prevents noticing of the possible issues of NPI products until heavy customer escalations show up. Are your NPI products predicted correctly?

For “normal” products, success of predictability can be measured for example by forecast accuracy. It is important to define carefully the suitable methods and control points.

How to improve service need predictability

Checking cablesAfter sales is normally a part of R&D and/or NPI processes. When products are under development, also maintenance, service and repair should be included and developed as an integral part of the process. After sales needs influence the development during the whole life-time of the product. E.g. when the end customer can change a failing part such as FRU (Field Replacement Unit) by themselves, they avoid sending the whole product/system for repair (suring which the products/system would be out of use).

The accuracy of forecast, careful KPI monitoring and corrective actions must be based on current data. These can include e.g. the success of follow up and measurement of corrective actions, continuous improvement and improvements success analyzes, and further actions based on that.

Often e.g. the volume peaks can be challenging. It has not been predicted that something occurs and causes volume demand to certain products. For a repair center, it is important that it can adjust, align and modify its operations. e.g. according to the following criteria:

  • Personnel should be competent to handle all different kind of products and technologies enabling smooth transfer to repair line where such peaks are
  • Machines and equipment should be chosen so that those can be used in different purposes
  • Repair process (including personnel and equipment) should be developed in a  professional and advanced way, enabling operation even when unpredicted challenges occur

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