October 14, 2016
Field service technologies are more than two decades old. Companies have leveraged them to coordinate the flow of work orders that came in as service requests to the contact center. They were able to reap real ROI by using these technologies to schedule technicians, manage their routes and their flow of work.
Today, with the rise in importance of delivering differentiated customer experiences, field service technologies are become increasingly important. This is because, the service tech who ends up on your doorstep, or at the site of faulty equipment represents the face of your company. They are your brand ambassadors. These interactions are by far the most personal channel for customer engagement, and they can help make or break a relationship.
This means that: (1) you want to equip your service techs with all the information and data that they need to easily address the reported issue, and (2) you want to use cutting edge technologies to deliver great engagement. These technologies include:
- Mobility for field service effectiveness – Companies communicate to field techs, increasingly via mobile apps, the location, timing, and details of their jobs. They also allow techs to provide dynamic pricing of labor, parts, and products. Mobile applications must be easy for techs to use, often with gloved hands, in challenging conditions including low lighting and hazardous job sites. They must also work in disconnected environments.
- Analytics for differentiated service execution. The core tenet of field service is getting the right technician to the right job on schedule with the right parts in hand to fix the issue. Companies are using analytics to help in resource forecasting. They are also using analytics to learn the historical performance of each field tech and use these insights to optimize their scheduling and dispatching, taking into account skills, schedules, tasks, work orders, assets, time sheets, and service policies.
- Augmented reality (AR) for skills democratization. Companies must schedule a field tech with the appropriate skills to a job site to fix a problem. Typically, this expertise is gained only from years on the job. Augmented reality (AR), which overlays digital information on the physical world, helps companies spread that knowledge more broadly. Smart glasses can help offsite workers (like in a home office) to see exactly what onsite technicians or customers see and tutor them through a job. They can also use screen annotations or gestures to highlight parts of interest or better communicate complicated instructions.
- IoT for preventative maintenance. Companies are starting to use support automation to preemptively diagnose connected devices (IoT) and fix issues with minimal human intervention. For example, Caterpillar uses sensors in its machines and engines that automatically trigger a service call when normal operations are disrupted or when equipment is due for maintenance.
Field service technologies are seeing a second life. Its no wonder that every CRM vendor has recently added field service capabilities to its portfolio in an effort to provide these differentiated end-to-end experiences.