In the past few months, the field service industry has been faced with new challenges. Field technicians have had to perform maintenance or repair operations in customers’ homes while ensuring compliance with barrier procedures. Not always easy… Since the beginning of this pandemic crisis, and more than ever, customer satisfaction is the key word. Achieving this objective required the use of data analysis and Artificial Intelligence solutions at every stage of the process.
Field Service Management (FSM) helps to organize the field operations of mobile workers and streamlines the flow of information between stakeholders: customers, dispatchers and field workers.
The Field Service Management concerns all companies whose teams have to visit customers in order to complete diverse operations: maintenance, repair, collection or diagnosis.
For example, Field Service Management involves preventive maintenance on industrial equipment, maintenance of electrical grid and telecommunication networks, repair operations on heating, cooling and air-conditioning equipment, and facility maintenance operations. Perhaps more surprisingly, the Field Service Management also concerns home visits to the elderly.
Today, the Field Service industry is evolving, there is no doubt about it. In 2020, French people spend more time at home than ever before, resulting in increased use of household appliances and a growing risk of breakdowns. It is in this context that technicians have had to visit customers with one objective: avoid imminent downtime and get machines back in working order.
In 2021, companies need to use data analysis and sensors more than ever to simplify maintenance and prevent possible breakdowns. The use of these devices is expected to be long-term. When the Covid-19 crisis will be over, the French will most likely continue remote working several days a week. The observation is simple: by spending more time at home, purchases of home appliances and connected objects will increase. The consequence for field service organizations: an increase in service calls.
In a highly competitive environment, customers have ever higher expectations in terms of quality and speed of response. Therefore, Field Service Management (FSM) organizations need to invest in new software solutions and embrace Artificial Intelligence in order to provide quality service and stand out from the competitors.
Today, digital technology is becoming an everyday part of our lives: online shopping, communicating with friends and family, and so on. Well, a field technician must be able to benefit from the same experience in managing his daily tasks. Companies cannot avoid this digitization of activities. Field Service organizations must think about how they operate: how to start digitizing?
Managing field services with paper documents is now outdated. This traditional energy-consuming and error-inducing method is no longer efficient. FSM companies must, if they have not already done so, think about digitizing their routes. And more generally, they need to digitize their business. By adopting this new approach, field service operations managers will quickly be able to measure the benefits: reduce paper costs, limit environmental impact and deforestation, simplify document and multiple attachment searches, facilitate information sharing and make it easier to assign service requests.
Having access to information on the different tasks to be carried out from a single location, knowing which addresses to go to, knowing the travel times, knowing which spare parts are needed to maintain or repair a machine. These are all things that can be simplified by digitization.
Today, Field Service Management solutions help to improve the organization of technicians’ daily tasks. Specifically, these tools optimize the time of operations planning as well as the trips of field workers. The goal? To respond quickly to customer expectations, without forgetting to ensure better profitability of services.
Automating processes with digital solutions has many benefits for FSM organizations.
Multiple departments have been forced to close due to the COVID-19 crisis. This closure is not without consequences for consumers. They now have to wait long minutes before being put in touch with a customer service person. In an environment where immediacy has become the trend, this waiting time cannot continue.
Today, customers must have the ability to login 24/7 to a platform that allows them to schedule an in-home operation on their own. More importantly, they must have the possibility to choose the date as well as the time slot of the visit. Well, some companies have understood this need by developing solutions that offer this option. This is particularly the case for AntsRoute with its online appointment scheduling site vientchezvous.com specifically designed for Field Service operations.
Technicians often face a real challenge in their daily work:the inability to determine the parts needed to repair a machine before making a first on-site visit.
The predictive analytics and the use of sensors can help solve this problem. More and more smart sensors are being placed on devices to collect and analyze real-time data on their operating state. This allows them to trigger automated actions. For example, when a sensor detects an anomaly on a machine, an action to identify the broken part and order it is automatically triggered. The goal?To allow the technician to go to the site with the right equipment. And that’s not all, these sensors also help prevent an upcoming breakdown.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is now the key in the evolution of the field service industry. Before the introduction of the IoT, your washing machine could break down without ever being alerted to its malfunction. Those days are over!
The equipment is connected and sensors can monitor its operating status remotely. In simple terms, the data feedback allows for early identification of the risk of downtime on a machine and to take the necessary action. As a result, people in charge of coordinating field service operations can schedule maintenance operations on these machines to avoid breakdowns. Ultimately,IoT should help reduce equipment downtime and thus limit emergency operations.
Here is one of the first objectives of a Field Service organization: the obligation of a result from the first visit. This is of course essential to ensure the profitability of the business, but also to respond quickly to customer needs and thus improve satisfaction. Thanks to digitization and the development of software solutions, Field Service organizations can easily assign each operation to the right technician.
A technician with the necessary spare parts for on-site service will be able to meet the customer’s expectations. But to achieve this goal, other information must be taken into account when assigning work to workers:customer availability, work schedules, breaks, skills as well certifications of agents. Technicians must indeed have not only the skills, but also the time to complete a maintenance or repair operation at a customer’s site.
Every Field Service Management company must be able to implement an effective communication system with its field technicians. Having a good system for exchanging and sharing information is often the key to success in many industries.
What about field service operations? Well, as with other areas, good communication between teams helps improve working conditions for technicians. Specifically, FSM companies can equip their field workers with a route tracking mobile app. It allows access from a smartphone to information about customers and the various operations to be completed.
What is more important than the quality of services to keep your company going? In a highly competitive environment, meeting customer expectations is a priority. Today, customer experience is a major differentiating factor for organizations. This is also true for companies that specialize in field service management.
As we’ve seen before, FSM solutions allow for custom services for customers: preferred time slots, preferred technicians or 24/7 access to appointment scheduling site. Even better? These tools can trigger calls to customers. Some also allow automated notifications that indicate the time before workers reach customer’s or possible delayed.
Thanks to these notification systems, customers can ensure their presence when the field technician arrives. In particular, they have the ability to confirm the date and time slot of the visit, find out how long they will have to wait before the technician arrives on site, access the service report.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, field service management companies will have no choice but to embrace digital transformation to meet new customer needs and remain competitive.