What do you get when you mix field service innovation with the efficiencies of the cloud? A field service Big Bang of course. The field service industry is going through nothing short of a revolution. And it’s about time too.
Historically field execution simply meant scheduling a technician to get to the customer site within a contracted window. Actually fixing the problem, or having the right parts or skills for the job was almost an afterthought. Thankfully those days are gone. But the problem remains that field service has not entered the information economy as quickly as other lines of business, nor has it moved at the same pace as the rest of the organisation. Unfortunately, the industry is now in a position where it can’t afford not to catch up.
[easy-tweet tweet=”Field service is the perfect fit for the #InformationEconomy where knowledge is the primary raw material” via=”no” usehashtags=”no”]
In fact, if you think about it, field service is the perfect fit for the information economy where knowledge is the primary raw material and source of value. The issue is that, to date, it hasn’t properly converged or integrated with the wider IT-based information society. But that’s finally changing, and those of us in field service have a front row seat to an industry undertaking a major transformation. It’s already happening and on a global scale.
Market forces, such as decreasing margins, servitisation or disruptive service, sluggish capital equipment sales, higher customer expectations, IoT enabled devices, and the realisation that field service can and should be a profit centre rather than cost centre, are just some of the pressures forcing service organisations to make a giant leap frog forward.
[easy-tweet tweet=”The ‘perfect storm’ – 1980s style processes and systems colliding with expectations of the twenty first century” via=”no” hashtags=”cloud”]
And so we have the ‘perfect storm’ as it were, with 1980s style processes and systems colliding with the expectations of a twenty first century, information-based, customer led economy. Enter the cloud. It delivers all the end-to-end automation, lets you pay-as-you-go, gets you up and running in days not months, is user friendly for the ‘over 50s’ among us, and means you never have to worry about hardware or IT resources.
Field service is actually inherently mobile, social and time sensitive. It needs new technologies that compliment these attributes. By empowering and mobilising service technicians with cloud-based, real time tools in the field they can do work-orders, request parts, schedule and be scheduled, look up manuals, take payments, renew maintenance agreements, use social channels to communicate problems swiftly and effectively and upsell and cross sell products and solutions where appropriate.
All of this is done on a smartphone or tablet device. All the data is real-time. Technicians also have the option of working off-line and then synching up to reduce dead time administration at the end of a job. And customer relationship management systems pick up the information and ensure that the customer receives future communications, advice, updates and education. And of course all of that data is delivering valuable new insights about your businesses and customers.
Quite a disruption to the status quo, isn’t it?
These tools can also be used to harness knowledge – particularly from your most senior technicians – and shared for future and ongoing reference and training purposes. By retaining all that golden knowledge and experience gathered over the years from your more mature technicians as they approach retirement, you are able to help train and develop the next generation who may have limited experience with older model equipment or assets.
Quite a disruption to the status quo, isn’t it? But a necessary one. The role of the service organisation has transformed across multiple industries, not just for the likes of the big manufacturing giants. And it’s not just about delivering support anymore. It’s about finding a true understanding of customer needs, and provisioning solutions to ensure customer satisfaction, profitability and maximum value, while maintaining product reliability, availability and performance.
Change is uncomfortable and sometimes poses its own set of risks and challenges
The challenge for service organisations is delivering on all of this whilst delivering efficiencies at the same time. It simply can’t be done without automation. End-to-end cloud-based, social and mobile field service applications will outpace and outperform manual processes every time, no matter how good your field technicians are. Change is uncomfortable and sometimes poses its own set of risks and challenges. But rigid software and broken processes make change downright impossible. Cloud-based field service solutions can now accommodate and anticipate customer requirements, guide you through the transformation, and give you best practices to follow. Don’t just watch this revolution happen from the side lines. Join in or you risk market forces pushing you aside.