Kirti Sethiya is a Microsoft certified business applications and analytics consultant at Advaiya. Kirti is a highly experienced technology enthusiast, who has been involved in a wide array of tailored digital transformation projects. Her dedication to solving challenges and identifying new opportunities has provided valuable business-focused results for clients. Most recently, she’s been engaged in helping organizations benefit from Microsoft Dynamics 365.
As a field service provider, your primary business goal is to provide customers with fast, effective, and efficient services, but as we all know, the usual way of doing business took an unforeseen turn in 2020 due to COVID-19. But let’s not talk about its impact and how it has disrupted the field service industry. However, we must always look forward to preparing for the future.
It is true that the new normal has turned several “good-to-have” privileges into “must-have” necessities. Businesses are looking forward to embracing the latest technologies and best practices to sustain the company’s growth and opportunity.
Here, I am emphasizing on few emerging trends in field service management that you must consider while going through technology transformation and making growth strategies:
- SaaS Field Service Management Solutions
Though field service businesses were already moving towards digital technologies before the pandemic, the crisis has led to rapid acceleration. In 2021, field service providers are expected to continue adopting technologies and solutions to improve business operations and customer service. While making this move, it is great to invest in a software-as-a-service solution, as it offers a range of benefits including increased capacity, lower cost & burden, higher scalability, anytime, anywhere accessibility, and more importantly, you just need to pay for what you use.
- Analytics and IoT powered predictive services
Predictive maintenance is a pragmatic shift in the field service industry as they are moving from corrective to proactive services. Because it is important to fix things when broken, but more important and valuable is to be able to fix things even before they break. Therefore, it has become imperative for field service companies to progress towards IoT-enabled sensors generating data-driven insights to predict equipment failures with a very high level of accuracy. They must monitor the condition and performance of in-service equipment and recommend to customers its usage and how they can preempt or minimize the breakdown. Thus, analytics and IoT-powered predictive services are here to provide customers with what they want – maximum equipment uptime with fewer maintenance visits saving time and money.
- Increased usage of mobile applications
As more companies transform their operations digitally, service companies must also adapt and move towards paperless operations. Having a mobile application for on-field workforce like technicians, contractors, supervisors, dispatchers, etc. can help achieve the highest level of efficiency and productivity. The app provides instant access to all necessary information technicians need, enables more efficient scheduling, ensures data accuracy, improves customer experience, and streamlines overall business operation – all in a few simple clicks.
- Move towards assistive technologies like AR & VR
With the advent of technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), the typical practices of field service are changing. Companies are embracing newer and efficient ways of doing things. AR and VR-enabled devices offer a better user experience and hands-free operation capabilities. The use of these technologies simplifies the remote inspection and troubleshooting in many ways – enabling a technician to easily find errors and maintenance issues by looking into customer’s equipment via an AR headset, speeding up the process of troubleshooting over a live video from a distant location, providing access to training resources to avoid skill gaps, and much more.
- Embrace the automation
Field service companies using paper-based work orders and whiteboards for scheduling face a lot of challenges related to time, cost, and accuracy. These days automation is considered as the backbone of any field service management solution because it gets many of the processes done faster than the manual way of doing it. Be it job setup and scheduling, tracking on-site activities, daily dispatch reminders, field data capture, real-time alerts, etc. It helps reduce human errors, increase customer satisfaction, lower operational costs, boost worker efficiency, enable better coordination, and allow the workforce to focus on core tasks.
- Emphasis on customer service portals
Service companies must keep up with today’s tech-savvy customers in order to meet their expectations and deliver a competitive edge. Instead of waiting over long phone calls to call centers, customers are happier if they get a portal where they can easily submit a service request, set up an appointment, find maintenance tips, track the status of their request, and do a lot more. Now, companies prefer to invest in field service management solution offering such portals which help them show that customers are their top priority. Such portals deliver myriad benefits to both service providers as well as users – provide transparency, build credibility, increase visibility, expedite cash flow, improve communication, etc.
- Focus on the blended workforce (employed and freelance)
Diversifying workforce among employed technicians and independent or third-party contractors is known as a blended workforce. It provides field service organizations with the flexibility and capacity they require to deliver services efficiently. Combining the field personnel allows service providers to quickly scale and grow to the required capacity or geography without spending time and cost of hiring and training. The flexibility of a blended workforce combined with intelligent management tools allows field service companies to send the right technician to the right job at the right time, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and improved operational efficiency.
A lot of transformations happening in the field service industry today because what seems “nice-to-have” may become “must-have” in the blink of an eye. Your business must be equipped with best-of-breed solutions and technologies to remain competitive. The field service management trends talked above will help you define a holistic business strategy to ensure the smooth running of all the business operations and provide the highest level of customer satisfaction.
The next step here is to evaluate a comprehensive field service management solution that can provide you with the capabilities necessary to put these trends into action.