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Using Data to Meet Evolving Customer Expectations
Data is the best friend of business.
It doesn't matter whether the business in question is delivering field service to the medical device sector, or selling toys to children; data tells you whether the business is achieving its goals. The stock market - which holds sway over much of the financial world - is entirely driven by data, and with good reason.
Google's Eric Schmidt once famously said: "There were 5 Exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created every 2 days." While the stats quoted are (ironically) not accurate, the point is sound - the amount of data which is now created, stored, and replicated every day dwarfs even the recent past by many orders of magnitude.
How then, can medical device field service professionals leverage big data to ensure they are achieving their goals?
In medical device field service the customer must be at the center of all decisions, like in any industry. When customers decide to engage a company in a business interaction, they do so with certain expectations in mind, and data can be used to ensure these are met - or exceeded.
Talk to Customers
The best way to establish exactly what customers expect from a product or service is to ask them - although this doesn't necessarily have to involve an actual conversation. Field service professionals and their clients - medical practitioners and healthcare organizations - are busy people, and while it may be possible to sit down for an in-depth interview, there are problems inherent to this method.
Qualitative data has its good points, as interviews and the associated transcripts can yield long-form detailed information on customer expectations. However, they take a long time to carry out and are not easily converted into raw data which can be processed.
A much better way to gather customer expectation data is through quantitative measures such as questionnaires or surveys. These are easily sent out via email, and there are many sites which offer free survey creation and distribution. Questionnaires should not take more than a few minutes to complete - certainly no more than five - or they'll simply be ignored by busy medical professionals.
The best time to deliver a survey is when first taking on a new client, as expectations will be a normal part of the dialogue at this point, and it will demonstrate an interest in their wants and needs from the word go.
Creating buyer personas is also a great way for businesses to anticipate customer expectations. Buyer personas are essentially hypothetical profiles of a company's archetypal clientele, and are used to inform marketing efforts. Buyer personas can also be compared to real customer data to establish how well a business understands its base.
Once a baseline of customer expectations has been set, data needs to be used to ensure standards are being maintained. Thankfully there's an abundance of data in the field service industry which can be used to gauge how well things are going and whether the task of meeting customer expectations is on track.
Callout response times, time spent on each service or repair, cost of parts, number of callouts - these variables can all be easily stored and turned into charts and tables which will inform future policy. Medical practitioners can also be given regular satisfaction surveys - in the same manner call centers often do - to make sure they are happy with the service they've received so far. Expectations evolve over time, making it crucial to be constantly reassessing the situation.
Internet of Things (IoT) technology can also be used to gather data on the performance of individual components and medical devices. When a new piece of equipment is introduced, this data can be leveraged to establish whether it is meeting expectations or not. The performance over time for separate devices can easily be compared to see which best meets the client's needs.
The Numbers Don't Lie
All the data in the world is useless without analysis. Data is but the fuel in the car, whereas analysis is the internal combustion engine which propels the vehicle forwards. Analysis is how the raw data gathered from surveys, IoT, and internal systems is brought together and made meaningful to drive change.
Big data gives medical device field service organizations the power they need to quickly establish which methods of business are meeting or exceeding customer expectations, and which are falling short. This enables field service managers to remain agile to changing environments and evolving customer expectations, and can quickly switch out policies or equipment which aren't performing well for ones which are. This way organizations can be constantly streamlining and fine-tuning their operations, until they run in the smoothest manner possible.
The worst thing anyone can do with big data is ignore it. It doesn't matter whether they work in medical device field service, or any other industry - the principles are the same. When data is being gathered, collated, and analyzed, it must always be with the customer's expectations at the center of the picture. The methods of collecting data may vary slightly, but the end goal is constant: to ensure any change implemented is working for the good of the customer, and any weakness is identified and swiftly excised.
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