Traditional Practices Can Be Your Kryptonite


Two warehouse workers using Custella for virtual, paperless inventory management

The Great Fall Into Pity


If you are a fan of football, surely you know about the recent downfall of the Spanish club giant - F.C. Barcelona. A club with a rich history of winning trophies and medals left and right. A club that trains young talents in their academy to build them into the likes of Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Eto’o, Ronaldinho, and so on has seen its structure crumble after the devastating defeat against Bayern Munich in a very recent Champions League match. Bayern was simply faster, stronger, and better in terms of athleticism and tactics.


Bayern played modern football with superior coaching while Barca chased shadows trying to prove that their age-old tactics of inverted wingers occupying half-spaces actually worked but ultimately wound up torn apart. The fans did not feel anger, they felt pity for the club that once gave them so much joy.


The signs were there ever since they lost some of their key players and went on to show disappointing performances in Liverpool, Rome, and Lisbon. Moreover, their financial management has been a mess. While everyone blames the coach for his strategy and finds a new replacement, the likely replacement is also probably habituated to the old Barca game. At this point, nostalgia is Barca’s kryptonite.


This Wasn’t Enough


Indeed it is sad to see a good-performing team go down. Whether it is a football club or a business, it all boils down to one feeling - ‘what a shame!’. After watching the game and pondering on the mistakes Barca had made, I remembered about an electronic appliance services support company that I used to work for. During my time at the company, the people I was surrounded with were talented individuals with clever methods of completing their work. As months went by and the market started to shift towards a more digital sphere, we started to see major gaps in our field operations management. The following issues were identified:


  • Traditional Finance System: They used a traditional finance system for accounts and inventory management of spare parts which made it difficult to assist the field agents when certain pieces of machinery were needed in a short period. Moreover, we would often lose count of them.

  • Inefficient CRM: A custom CRM was used to keep a record of our customers. Although this is a good practice for any business, the CRM was not up to the mark in terms of features and flexibility in comparison to other software in the current market.

  • Lack of Check & Balance System: They would often lose track of their warranty dates and different support packages due to a lack of check and balance systems within their software. For instance, premium customers would have special packages where resolution time would be stated to be 4 hours. However, this could not always be followed due to having inadequate technology.

  • Slow Backtracking Process: It would take us hours to get access to the records of the past purchase, repairs, and service history when asked about a maintenance and repair query. A lot of data would be stored on email and spreadsheets while others would be scattered in messaging apps.

  • No Built-in Calendar: We had to toggle between systems and a calendar system to identify the availability and plan the schedule of our service representatives.

  • Lack of Real-time Update: We often failed to get feedback on the progress of work done as information is shared via text updates when a field rep is free where they send photos and unstructured job updates

  • Tedious Product Tracking Process: We were unable to keep track of the spare parts taken from our storeroom, consumed, or returned unless there was a reference to hard copy documents or text messages sent

  • Unable to track payments collected: There was no easy to verify if payment was collected on site by your mobile reps when they visited and completed work done

  • Lengthy Work Verification Process: Completion of work was only verified by the customer upon a customer service call done 1 or 2 weeks later


Although such practices were once globally accepted, it is not the same anymore. Any work that can be done within a day should not be extended to the next day. Clearly, at that point, we realized how old school our process flow was and despite having a smart bunch in our team, we were not able to keep up with the customer demands. These customers were getting faster service from other electronic service providers so they were quick to switch their service providers. Although it was a shame that an old company such as ours was going through this, it still made sense to us. Our age-old tactics of inverted wingers occupying half-spaces were not working.




The Advice That Changed The Game


I met my old friend Harris who was the operations lead of another electronic appliance services support company. I told him all about our company’s problem and he empathized by giving his 2 cents on the matter. Little did I know back then that those 2 cents would be the game-changer for our company and I would recommend the same to hundreds of others in the coming future. A field service tool was the pathway to the new generation of services. We picked Custella to score our winning goals and this is how it solved our problems:


  1. One-Click Report & Analytics: Using dynamic reporting, all financial data are at your disposal with just a few clicks. Adding date and time and writing short notes can help you pinpoint the exact financial data that you need to make the right decision.

  2. Customer & Contact Management: Gone are the days where you had to sit in front of a list of scattered data of your customers that you took months to organize only to find yourself unable to identify the right customer for the right service. With a proper field service app, it is easier than ever to identify customer requirements and whether they fall under the silver, gold, or platinum user category. Planners are now able to take immediate action with the nitty-gritty details at their disposal.

  3. SLA alerts: Each customer has unique needs and you can now visualize that in the application. For example, a gold customer may need a resolution time of 2 days. The field service agent in charge will get an alert notification stating how close they are to breaching the SLA. Furthermore, how often and when they will get the alert can also be set by the user.

  4. Attachments & Photo Capturing: Instead of going through thousands of messages to validate the decision, simply attaching pictures and documents with notes and other information can increase the visibility of the sought information.

  5. Real-time update: Get instant updates on the work that is assigned to your field reps through photo capturing, documentation, reports, and customer signature.

  6. Sales shift: The built-in calendar will have all the needful tasks listed out for your planners and field agents to become proactive at work.

  7. Reference IDs for SKUs: When your field service tool has the reference ID of all your SKUs, it becomes quite easy to locate which warehouse has the item and how many of them are available.

  8. Payment Collection Tracking: After every payment that is collected, the user updates it in the system as part of his task routine. This information can be collected at ease for future reference by simply looking up that particular job order.


Time To Pick Ourselves Up


Ever since the implementation of the field service operations module, the company started to pick up its pace. It overcame the hardships that it was once facing with manual paperwork and inefficiency and soon started competing with the other big players in the market. In addition to our customers, this mobile workforce management tool helped us have happier team members too. It made me realize that all that it takes is a change in the strategy and the mindset and the rest follows.


Just like my former workplace, perhaps it is only a matter of time before Barcelona shifts its strategy to match its rivals and start making its well-wishers proud. A great fall does not mean it is the end, it can be the beginning of something beautiful. After all, we cannot forget the famous lines that Batman’s father said when little Bruce Wayne fell inside the well :


“Why do we fall, Bruce?


So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”



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