Category Archives: The Role of Technology in Operations

EMC Uses Technology to Enhance Its Customer Service

EMC Uses Technology to Enhance
Its Customer Service

The best kind of problem is no problem, or one that i anticipated and fixed before it even occurs. And no one is better at doing this than E.M.C Corporation. a manufacturer of data storage systems. Using state-of-the-art technology. a wide variety of sensors are installed in its storage systems. These sensors measure almost everything, from the operating environment, like temperature and vibration, to technical performance. like faulty sector on a' storage disk or abnormal power surges. In total, there are more than a 1,000 diagnostics that are done routinely. Whenever any of these parameters falls outside of its accepted tolerances the storage system automatically "calls home" to EMCs call center in Hopkinton,
MA to report the problem. In fact, more than 80 percent of the 4,000 calls received at the call center each day are not from EMC's customers themselves, but rather from EMC's storage systems. Customer support engineers then either fix the problem remotely from the call center, or if that is not possible, dispatch a technician to the site. With this ability to anticipate problems before they occur, the first time a customer is even aware of a potential problem is when the technician arrives to replace a potentially faulty component before it actually fails.
One of the key factors in EMC's significant growth over the past decade has been its fanatical devotion to customer service. Providing great customer service, however. requires more than the ability to perform remote diagnostics. it requires commitment from the entire company. For starters, the customer service call center is located right in the middle of the engineering department, easily accessible to both hardware and software engineers. If the engineer receiving the call can't resolve the problem in 15 minutes, the responsible design engineer is called in. If it still isn't resolved in another 15 minutes, the vice president for

EMC Uses Technology to Enhance Its Customer Service

EMC Uses Technology to Enhance Its Customer Service

engineering is called in. An unresolved problem will continue to escalate through EMC's organization, to the point where if it isn't solved within eight hours, Mike Ruettgers, EMC's executive chairman and Joe Tucci, EMC's president and CEO are both notified. As further evidence of its commitment to service excellence, ElVIC doesn't treat its customer service organization as a profit center, as many firms do. By including the service in the cost of the product, customer service is treated as an expense item, without a need to generate profits. This allows the customer service to focus entirely on doing whatever is necessary to satisfy the customer. Does EMC charge more for its products? Absolutely. But its customers -believe that EMC products are worth the additional cost. When Forrester Research surveyed 50 big companies about their various technology suppliers, "EMC carne out looking like God says Carl Howe. a director of research at Forrester. "It has the best customer service review is have ever seen, in any industry In an Information Week study conducted on enterprise storage vendors, EMC received a satisfaction score of 8.53 (on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is not at all satisfied and 10 is extremely'satisfied), compared to scores of7.21 for Compaq, 7.16 for IBM. and 7.05 for Dell. As further evidence of customer satisfaction, the same study asked customers to rank their enterprise storage vendors in terms of "Service-Level Guarantees" and After-Sales Service" with the following results.

Customer Training

Customer Training

Customers also frequently are required to undergo some degree of
training when a new technology interacts directly with them. Depending on the type of technology and the level of sophistication required to use it, customer training can vary from a simple pamphlet describing how to use the new technology to attending classes that carefully  document the proper use of the technology. Technology plays a significant role in the successful operation of is very organization. With the constant introduction of new state-of-the-art technologies, this trend will most likely . continue into the foreseeable future. However, operations managers must realize that the' adoption of technology is not a simple undertaking and therefore must be carefully planned In the past, many firms looked to technology primarily to help them increase productivity. However, there are several additional reasons companies elect to incorporate new technologies into their processes, such as building a stronger relationship with their customers and improving their overall performance by providing better customer service. Finally, the installation of new technology ~st be accompanied with the proper technical support. In addition, sufficient time must be. allocated in the initial start-up phase to provide proper training to both workers and, where necessary, also customers. When deciding to purchase new technology, the service manager must ensure that there is compatibility between the desired technology and the over along - ten goals of the firm.

Worker Training

Worker Training

Workers often are required to develop additional skills when a new technology is introduced into the operation. These new skills can be developed through training classes that not only describe the use of the technology but also simulate its use. This allows workers to become familiar with the new equipment and to “debug the process” prior to actually using it online in the presence of a customer. It is important for managers to
recognize that worker training is an ongoing process. Many leading-edge firms, like FedEx, in fact, require their workers to spend a specific number of days each year ring training

Training and Support

Training and Support

Significant amounts of up-front training must be built into the overall new technology process. This training is often required of both workers and customers. Failure to provide proper training will lead to inefficient operations and frustration. In addition, both workers and customers must have the necessary’technical support when questions arise and/or
equipment malfunctions occur.

Overcoming Barriers to Entry

Overcoming Barriers to Entry

As new technologies become available, there are often barriers that prevent customers from using them, and managers need to be aware of this. Such barriers can significantly hinder the growth of the organization. One barrier is the “fear of the unknown” that is often associated with new technologies, a good example being the first time one purchases goods
and services over the Internet. Here, because there are no tangibles associated with the firm, customers are concerned about misuse of their credit cards and whether or not they will actually get delivery of the goods or services they have purchased. Another barrier is lack of knowledge of the consumer in using the service. This is especially true for self-service operations as well as for those services that use new technologies. Self-service gas stations provide a good example here. as there are many individuals who do not know how to operate a gas pump. ATMs provide a good example of a service involving a new technology where customers
must not only overcome their fear of the unknown, but also must learn how to properly use the technology.