68% of manufacturers say wearables will play an important role in the future of service operations

Salesforce have released their “2016 Connected Manufacturing Service Report,” surveying senior executives from service, supply chain, operations and other departments within various manufacturing industries.

The survey found that executives are facing increased pressure from suppliers and customers to adapt their customer service models. In fact, 90% of executives say that improving field service is a top priority for their organization.

Many service departments have been siloed in the past – managing operations on inflexible, legacy solutions that are disconnected from other customer-facing systems. In fact, the survey found that 61% of executives say their organizations typically track customer information in spreadsheets, and 37% still use a paper-based system.

Yet, with billions of devices and products becoming connected, service departments have an opportunity to reimagine their business — and 87% say that it is important to invest in service technologies to do so. To succeed, service executives must equip their teams with tools that leverage emerging technologies like wearables and IoT, connect the entire service team, efficiently schedule and dispatch workers, and manage jobs in real time.

“We are living in the age of the customer, so ensuring service departments are equipped with the latest technology provides a massive opportunity for companies in the manufacturing industry to drive growth,” said Cindy Bolt, SVP, Salesforce Industries, Manufacturing and Consumer Goods. “Companies that bring together customers, connected devices and service employees with a single platform will not only be able to deliver a seamless customer experience, but create new sources of revenue as well.”

Key Report Findings

● Executives today understand the importance of improving their service departments.
● 90% of executives say that improving field service performance is a top priority for their organization.
● 63% of executives strongly agree that service departments play a strategic role in their businesses, and 66% view them as revenue generators for their companies.
● More than three quarters (76%) agree that it is absolutely essential or very important for field service agents to be able to incorporate new technologies into their service activities.
 87% of respondents say they are investing in technology training for their field service agents.
● 61% of executives state they use spreadsheets, and 37% use a paper-based system to track customer information including purchase history and service requests.

Service leaders recognize technology can transform the customer experience, but are being held back by legacy systems.

More than 70% of executives say their field service agents need to make return visits “at least sometimes.” Reasons for return visits vary from field service agents not having the right part or tool (40%), to not being able to complete the transaction onsite (35%), to a lack of customer information (35%).
78% of executives said their field service agents have mobile devices in the field for managing service activities, but only 46% of executives say agents have the ability to access customer information if not connected to the internet or WiFi. In addition, a staggering 65% of executives report that their agents still print out their service tickets and bring them with them in their vehicles.
While 41% of executives report having a data capture system for collecting and managing information about customers, clients and prospects, 60% of executives still use human analysis to measure and analyze data so they can take action.

Manufacturing executives believe service departments will be revenue drivers in the future.

Customer expectations are driving change in the manufacturing industry, as 92% of executives agree that their organizations need to adapt their service models to keep up with customer needs.
Newer technologies are expected to be a driver of this change, as 68% of executives believe wearable devices (such as smartwatches and glasses) will play an important role in the future of service operations.
74% of executives strongly or somewhat agree that within the next 10 years products will become “loss leaders,” while services such as data and maintenance will be the primary revenue drivers of their companies.

Salesforce have a long history of supporting manufacturers. Watch the video below to find out how they centralise customer information for Dynacast in a way that helps them better understand inventors and entrepreneurs around the world, resulting in a higher close ratio than ever before.

The study was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Salesforce from February 1-17, 2016. Download 2016 Connected Manufacturing Service Report