Field service management in the early years was quite simple. When an asset or piece of equipment broke, the customer notified the service organisation. The field service team scheduled a field technician. The dispatched technician arrived within an agreed-upon service window, fixed the asset, and moved on to the next job. However, at this point, the asset had already failed, leading to an unproductive piece of equipment frustrated customers.
Based on advice in Aberdeen’s Field Service report “Workforce Management Guide” (2013), leading field service companies today must identify ways to leverage the unique relationship between customers and technicians. Field service calls must add to the overall customer experience. The evolution of field service transforms the appointment from a wrench-turning event into an opportunity to build long-term trust and partnerships.
Australian companies are seeking to become specialists in their niche areas, operations and post-sale strategies to differentiate themselves in a highly competitive market. One of the most effective approaches to increasing revenue margins is by addressing customer satisfaction and retention.
Industry leading customer service requires substantial operational efficiencies, which can be achieved largely by systemisation and automation. Improving the efficiency of trip routes, shrinking the excess parts in van stock, and reducing paper are not innovative practices. In 2018, they are more-likely, industry standards.
The Best-in-Class service companies are going further than ever before by investing in resources and systems that provide total transparency for customers. By having more advanced insights into resource planning and requirements, companies are able to ensure they always have the right resource in the right place at the right time. This means having the:
Investing in digital tools to assist the business processes can increase revenue and customer satisfaction. Three technologies are essential to address this revolution: mobile devices, centralised cloud-based solutions and what is called “the internet of things”.
The new mobile workforce enabled by cloud technology.
Giving technicians access to real-time data while on the go is a must in the industry. But more important is the ability for a technician to take customer information and feedback in the field as well as information about jobs and equipment. Having this cloud of live knowledge is vital for a customer-centric strategy and to predict future opportunities.
The five must-have tools that leading field service apps must provide to innovative service companies are:
- Service knowledge.
Technicians with the right skills and information can solve problems. Service apps are helping leading companies give their technicians access to the data that will help them be more efficient whilst onsite and provide a better customer experience. These databases include maintenance schedules, past service history, work instruction changes, and new regulations and safety information. Access to this data can dramatically change how field a technician resolves issues.
- Resource visibility on-demand.
Fixed assets and all the information recorded about them is not always easy to track. Innovative field service cloud solutions provide advanced assets management and resources allocation with real-time dashboards. GPS location and real-time van inventory are critical tools. This tech, boosted by mobile applications, ensures problems are fixed with a minimal amount of time and dollars spent.
- Schedule and routing the correct technician.
A Best-in-Class maintenance management software, like NextService, helps businesses by implementing technologies that enable enhanced field service connectivity in real time. The technician’s Mobile devices become an extension of your core ERP System. The app gives instant access to job records, asset history, inventory availability and job checklists.
- Analytics to measure the workforce’s performance.
Leading field service companies use vital analytical tools that monitor and measure performance across their organisation. Technicians with real-time personalised dashboards of performance can assess them more effectively manage their time, their jobs and their customer service.
- Automated and collaborative workforce.
ERP helps to automate and streamline workflows from job creation and allocation through to completion and billing. Mobile technology makes collaboration easier. A major differentiator in the service industry is having teams that are truly collaborative. By sharing tasks, work orders, history and reports, everyone can be on the same page.
State of the art Computerised Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS)
Pioneering companies are also searching for CMMS Software that directly connects with their CMS. Platforms like NetSuite, the Oracle Field Service Cloud software, help to build a great customer experience. NetSuite is an ERP System that centralises the CMMS and the CMS in a single platform along with finances, accountability, sales, marketing and inventory.
A centralised software system has great advantages for customer service. Service modules allow clients to give feedback and schedule work orders. Field service ERPs automate the customers’ requests for information and allows them to access their accounts.
Having all the information in one single field service cloud facilitates automated scheduling based on attributes such as the technician’s relationship to the customers, location, route, and severity of the issue. Data shared amongst all systems can empower the field technician with sales tools. Field service operators can adjust or sell preventive maintenance plans, fix billing issues and build up customer relations if required.
State of the art mobile apps like NextService, built for NetSuite, allows online or offline information to be accessed and uploaded from any location. This cloud-based software provides statistics and customer data on any device and can be set up very quickly.
The revolution of industry 4.0 is changing field service forecasting.
In the new era of preventive maintenance, machine-to-machine (M2M) tech is the gold. The internet of things allows ERPs to capture data from smart devices on location. This intelligence allows alerts of a future or current failure. These alerts trigger preventive assets maintenance visits and recommend resolution scenarios for technicians before getting on site.
Advanced connectors enable the real-time communication between the ERP system and the field machines. Field service companies that lead and control their networks search for systems that have these robust Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). NetSuite includes SuiteTalk, the most robust API web services integration powered by Oracle. This API makes it easy for developers to integrate NetSuite with a variety of applications and hardware including existing on-premise machinery.
A significant piece of differentiation in the tech toolkit for the mobile field service is enabling the communication between technicians and on-premise machinery. If configured correctly automation can be tailored to a degree in which field technicians would be calling customers to notify machine failures before they even notice it. State of the art maintenance software helps them collect and connect this data to their workflows.
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