'You could develop a service management system, but it’ll cost ten times more and wouldn’t be worth the investment'

'You could develop a service management system, but it’ll cost ten times more and wouldn’t be worth the investment'

Eplehuset, the largest Apple reseller and service provider in Norway, wanted Fixably to be “one place to solve it all” for repair processes as their inhouse solution required more and more work to update.

Eplehuset is the largest Apple reseller and service provider from Norway. They’ve got a diversified business operations as well, ranging from retail sales to small business support, IT management for educational institutions, and Apple repairs.

They started as an Apple Premium Reseller (APR) in 2002, and became an Apple Authorized Service Provier (AASP) in 2007.

"We only did a few hundred repairs a year back in 2007, and we didn’t have a service order management system (SOM),” says Aleksander Eriksen, Digital Business Developer, Eplehuset. “The service volume increased year by year, and peaked around 50-60,000 repairs yearly."

Aleksander has worked on Eplehuset’s software requirements for over a decade. And he realized that such growth meant the company needed a new service management system.

“We probably had one of the best service solutions in the business, tailor-made for us. But we started looking for a new solution after years of iterating on a solution that was created to handle a few thousand repairs a year and the increasing amount of GSX API changes from Apple.

"The development cost of keeping up with the GSX API is high.”

Keeping Up with Apple GSX API

Eplehuset sees Apple service as both a revenue source and a way to build brand for the Apple reseller side of the business.

“We saw the opportunity in helping our own customers,” says Aleksander. “But I also think it's a good business opportunity overall. Say a customer purchases an Apple product from your competition but comes to you for service. You give them a great experience and there’s a good chance they’ll come to you for their next purchase.”

Customer service, quite predictably, is crucial.

“The system that we had — which was really good at doing most of the things we wanted — was created back when we did a few thousand service orders a year. Now we're doing 60,000 a year,” he adds.

Even the most efficient system collects technical debt over time, especially with rapid changes to software development and API design.

“We kept iterating on it. But you come to a point when you have to decide to either keep iterating something that wasn't built for this amount of service orders or build something new.”

There’s also a third option, and the cost to benefit ratio skews in favor of subscribing to a purpose-built solution very fast.

We needed to throw out what we had been doing for the past ten years and say, ‘Okay, there's an intent behind how Fixably has been built and how we should work with it; let's not try to work against that and let's see if we can adapt some of our internal processes to work with Fixably instead.'

Aleksander Eriksen, Digital Business Developer, Eplehuset

Complex Implementation, Building Together

"Some key feature we were looking for in a new service management system was the possibility to automate more of the time-consuming tasks, and to have more control to make sure the technicians made fewer mistakes," Aleksander explains.

This was made more complex because Apple chose to close some API endpoints, resulting in broken GSX connections within their existing system.

"When we made the transition to Fixably it was forced because Apple started shutting down old APIs that we used in our old SOM.

"So we collaborated with the tech heads at Fixably to add custom functionality and automations over time, improving our efficiency. Not all of the changes have a defined ROI as not all of the processes can be measured.

"But we’ve saved a minute here and a minute there and know that Fixably is the key to further time savings and improved customer experience.”

Eplehuset now takes a long term view to improving workflows and software implementation. “We have this larger view, which means that each project has a defined business case. We try to provide user stories when we define projects,” he says.

They have a comprehensive implementation that includes an ERP solution, Fixably, and accounting systems. This required Eplehuset and Fixably to work together to shape the nature of the deployment.

"It's not always about forcing your existing workflow on the system, but about adapting to the system. Fixably is a well-thought-out SOM from people who know how to efficiently handle Apple repairs. Rather than creating a (custom) tenant of our own, we try to work with the system," he adds.

"Try the workflows that are available and get to know the system. Then decide if you need custom development to optimize it to your needs."

But Aleksander and his team also wanted to ensure that they benefited from the frequent additions made to Fixably.

“That was actually one important thing about the implementation. We needed to throw out what we've been doing for the past ten years and say, ‘Okay, there's an intent behind how Fixably has been built and how we should work with it; let's not try to work against that and let's see if we can adapt some of our internal processes to work with Fixably instead.’

“We often discuss issues we have with Fixably, because we think we have a good idea on how to solve something. Then we want to make sure that it's in compliance with the Fixably core functionality.

“Because we don't want to end up with a tenant where Fixably does something brilliant and we can't take advantage of it because we've, along the way, taken a different path. 

“So it's important for us to know that we're sort of not breaking core functionality in any system that we iterate on.”

How Fixably Works for Eplehuset

Aleksander wanted Fixably to be “sort of one place to solve it all.”

“That's what we wanted it to be when we got rid of the last few manual GSX processes or the last few manual SAP processes. And I think that's the best part of it, that you can have one tool where you communicate with the customer, where you process GSX repairs, where you link with SAP.

“It should and it does save them (techs) a lot of time because you are able to automate processes.”

Fixably translates these workflows into a high return on investment. “Any system that can make an employee spend less time on anything would, of course, mean more efficiency,” he adds.

“I think that's the key aspect about Fixably, they listen and are able to create good solutions and good processes with the customer. And for us that's been the greatest factor in the success (of our partnership).

And what changes if Eplehuset had gone some other way?

“I think we would lose the benefit of having someone that actually knows the GSX API when developing. That was something that was kind of hard with having a custom service order management system.

“Let's say you have a developer working on your system. He needs to not only get to know how the service order management system works, he needs to know how an AASP works. And when he’s learnt how an AASP works, he needs to get to know the GSX API.

“If you have the manpower and the time, you could probably create something that would work for you. But it will cost ten times more and it probably wouldn't be worth the investment.”

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