Customer Service in Change – Predictive Service Using IoT

Detlef Aden

Predictive Service does not only concerns the established service-providing companies.

Service is more and more important for every company, especially in machine and plant manufacturing. Customers do not want to buy products, they want to use services. USE instead of BUY! In order to be in the best possible position here, companies are reorganizing their services. The magic word predictive service and this makes the end customer feel like they have a trusted product in use.

For example: instead of buying a compressor, possibly extended with a service contract, customers will now pay for the volume of compressed air generated.

That’s why:

  • 81% of companies recognize customer service as a competitive advantage.
  • 79% of companies are able to achieve savings through improved customer service
  • 84% realized an increase in revenue or profit while improving customer service

How can the existing service process be made even more efficient by using sensor data?


The interaction takes place in different levels and departments. In the case of technical customer service, I ideally need to create sensor-to-financial accounting communication.

Sensors and their data support automation.

A practical illustration of the first one-third of the service process: the unit of one of our machines at the customer’s site reports a deviation from the standard values. This is received automatically and directly from the aggregate into our service system. There it is accepted and evaluated accordingly in order to generate events, tasks. One such task could be the assignment of a work order to a technician, for example. At the same time, it is also immediately determined which spare parts are necessary and how much time the work assignment can take in accordance with experience. These two or three steps have not been consistently implemented in many companies. The process always comes to a stop because three different IT solutions may have to be operated here. The flow of information is stopped again and again. It’s a little like on the highway. I’m in stop-and-go traffic. Lose time, maybe miss my client appointment and strain my nerves.

In the second third I am already in my purely financial processes. Here I need the data from the technician. For example, the answers to questions such as: ” When did the unit start running again “, “How long did the technician need “, “Which spare parts were used “, “Which dismantled parts are returned for repair or refurbishment? In addition, the elementary information must be checked as to what may be calculated. Speed is required here. However, the service technician’s response is often not available before the evening or the other day at the earliest. This is still very often the case today. In order to create an invoice, the customer contract must be checked to see what may be charged: hourly rate, spare parts or a percentage calculation – or is everything still included in the warranty? If my processes here are not consistent, and the information is distributed across different IT solutions… I’m already in the next stop and go.


Automating service processes

The utilization of fully integrated processes is numerous. For the company, the environment, for the employees and last but not least for the customer..

Now we are entering the last third. The invoice is now already with the customer. Ideally electronically, digitally. Of course, I have also provided the invoice with a payment reference, so that the customer can use it for the bank transfer. The customer also pays on time. I collect the bank statements, ideally also electronically, and then post them all in my ERP system.

This is where many companies are in their third Stop & Go. In my career I have also seen companies that have been completely closed down at this point. Invoices for months or years were not dunned.


Goal: Getting faster -> the ideal idea

What would be our ideal service concept? The aggregate, the machine answers automatically when it needs help (for example in the form of maintenance measures). Based on historical values, a work order is transferred to the service employee. At the same time, he is provided with the necessary spare parts. The technician reports back his work assignment immediately after completion. It is supported by a user-friendly mobile application. Required time, used spare parts etc. are immediately available in the customer department. An invoice will be sent immediately after the service has been rendered in accordance with the contractual agreements. The payment reminder system monitors incoming payments using the automatic bank statement procedure and reminds the customer of the payment if necessary. After receipt of payment, your system also records all booking documents.

What is to be done?
Are you ready to leave your comfort zone? To rethink previous processes and procedures? To clean out the IT! Start a spring-time cleaning? If you are willing to do so, I will be at your disposal as an advisor and discussion partner.


You can also meet me from June 25th to 26th in Nuremberg (Germany) at the fair Sensor + Test 2018.