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Emily Mason

Recent Posts

What does ‘M2M’ mean to you?

Posted by Emily Mason on October 2, 2014

Everywhere you look, it seems the world of field service is talking about only two topics - the Internet of Things or “wearable” technologies. And sometimes, both!

I have written previously in this blog on the topic of Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, its history and identified some of challenges around widespread and rapid adoption of this kind of connectivity. Ian Mapp also contributed some comments to the current issue of the UK-based Field Service News magazine.

As well as articles and conversations inside the industry, they have become topics of general interest and appear in mainstream media too (see here and here for two recent examples). It is easy to see the appeal, but the coverage is often characterised by more emotion and hype than solid information or informed commentary.

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Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Posted by Emily Mason on September 26, 2014

“If you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”

What would it take to become the number one in the world at what you do? For example, how long would you need to train a winner of cycling’s most famous - and gruelling – race, the Tour De France? How would you even begin to plan for that?

The Accumulation of Marginal Gains is a strategy to do precisely that, credited to Dave Brailsford, Performance Director of both British Cycling and Team Sky. And one which has undoubtedly played a huge part in the successes of recent times for Team GB.

As well as the obvious factors such as the nutrition of riders, their weekly training programme, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tyres, Brailsford and his team searched for potential improvements in areas so seemingly insignificant that they were overlooked by almost every other team. From discovering the pillow that offered them the best sleep and ensuring they had it with them whilst staying away, to testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. Every possible area that could be improved, by even 1%, was targeted.

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From awful to awesome

Posted by Emily Mason on September 17, 2014

Huffing and puffing, the driver delivering my new fridge dumps it just inside my front door, thrusts a pen and paper form in front of me and grunts “sign here”, before swiftly departing. Not only am I left with the dilemma of how to move my new fridge from the front door to the kitchen, but after patiently waiting in all morning, I’m left with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth for the company I chose to buy my new appliance from…

That was two years ago. Today, my fridge sits quietly in the kitchen, serving me well. But I can’t help wondering if the same can be said of the company that delivered it… Chances are, if everyone received the level of service I did, they wouldn’t have any customers left to serve.

I’ve been needing a new cooker for a while, so I decide to have a look at their website. “Five stars!” “Outstanding!” “Would use again and again”. A row of extremely favourable reviews that click through to a long list of more of the same. Intrigued, I scan through… Apparently a lot of people had an experience quite the opposite to my own, and so I decide to see for myself…

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Sat Nav should be banned…

Posted by Emily Mason on September 10, 2014

… for everyone except me.

I guess that’s pretty selfish, but I am not feeling very generous toward others, right now. Let me explain.

We are now in September and the children are back at school here in the UK. That brings a massive increase in road traffic as children are ferried to school, and parents go back to work after the main Summer holiday season. Avoiding traffic jams on the daily commute used to be achieved with a mixture of local knowledge, and experimentation on minor roads.

That has all changed. There have been huge rise in the popularity of satellite navigation devices – either as part of vehicle standard equipment, or portable units – to the point that a majority of drivers use them; 60% according to a 2013 poll of 24,000 drivers. One consequence has been many drivers turning off the clogged main routes and being directed along an apparently quicker alternative. But, so many are now doing it that that the diversion backs up too. In some cases, the delay turns out to be longer than sticking with the original route!

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Customer service standards are *not* slipping – it's just that they want more than you can deliver

Posted by Emily Mason on September 2, 2014

Field Service News recently published an article entitled “Are customer service standards in the UK slipping?”. Whilst the details of the particular research cited may be new, the thrust of the article is not. We have heard stories like this before, and all the time there is a ‘dissatisfaction gap’ they will continue to circulate. Likely meaning forever!

Several years ago, I was at a meeting of one of the service industries trade groups and there was a presentation about service standards. The presenter asked the audience whether their service standards had improved over the previous 12 months. Most people raised their hands to signal “yes” and further probing put the rate of improvement in the 3-5% range. A second, similar, question about improvement over the previous five years got even more hands up. However, the presenter proceeded to tell everyone not to congratulate themselves as, in reality, they were failing.

Failing to deliver what their customers wanted. Not because they were, necessarily, bad at their jobs. Or, that their mobile teams were not working hard and maybe genuinely getting better. But, because their customers’ expectations were rising faster than their ability to deliver, the research at that time suggesting an annual increase in expectations more like 10%. So yes, the service providers were getting better – but not quickly enough. The incremental changes they were making, although necessary, were never going to close the gap – the situation would just get worse and worse, until all customers left! Possibly a bit over-dramatic, but you get the idea.

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