Service management is a process for optimizing services and, as an area within supply chain management, represents the interface between the sale of a product and the customer. The goal of service management is to optimize supply chains with a strong focus on services that are usually more complex than finished goods. Supply chains focused on services often require larger warehouses and greater involvement of the field service as well as other (external) service providers, as stock call-offs are more irregular and, for example, in the event of a production shutdown at the customer’s site, a fast delivery of spare parts must be guaranteed.
Therefore, it is necessary to compensate for uncertain and fluctuating requirements through sophisticated information technology and coordinated product flows. Furthermore, the goal of service management is to coordinate and optimize all service processes across various locations with a large number of product parts and across several levels of the supply chain. The latter is increasingly being done by sophisticated enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, with the help of which the entire business process chain is automatically mapped and handled on an electronic platform.
Typically, services offered after the sale of a product account for less than 20 percent of total sales. However, for the most innovative companies in the field of service, this figure often amounts to more than 50% of profits. The basic prerequisite for this is efficient customer management and customer loyalty. After all, customers buy primarily when they are satisfied with the additional services. This is the case, for example, if a high level of accessibility is ensured, spare parts are delivered quickly or help is quickly on site. Service management thus also includes aspects of customer value management and the planning and design of the services offered. For this reason, service management also includes the deployment planning of service personnel. This can be a hotline that is staffed around the clock, but also field staff who carry out repairs or maintenance on site.
Traditionally seen as a necessary evil, innovative service management is increasingly becoming an integral part of the strategies of large companies. In order to ensure growth and customer loyalty in a competitive market, leading companies are increasingly realizing the urge to improve their service area and, for example, spare parts management.
Since the increasing improvement of technical possibilities on the basis of more powerful mobile networks and end devices (notebooks, smartphones and PDAs), so-called “mobile customer service” or “mobile service” has become more and more of an issue since about the year 2000, in which the entire customer service process from the customer call to the on-site deployment of the service technician, the mission feedback and billing is digitally controlled.