Sara Mueller, Field Service Portfolio Director, WBR looks at how the rapid evolution of service excellence is a double-edged sword of opportunity and challenges...
I’ve been a conference producer for Worldwide Business Research (WBR) for over ten years, but most of my friends still don’t understand what that means or how I spend my days.
My mom finally gets it though.
I told her that I conduct market research by talking to service executives to learn what their biggest challenges and initiatives are. I also talk to their vendors and solution providers to understand what innovative technologies and services they provide to solve these challenges. Then I write a conference program and recruit thought leaders to speak about these subjects to bring the industry together and help advance service organizations.
Throw in fun parties, innovative formats that get people talking, and beautiful venues where people enjoy building business relationships, and you’ve got the essence of a WBR Field Service event!
Whether or not you grasp the function of my job, I’m sure you can relate to the four major trends I see impacting field service over the next few years.
- Driving service innovation using technological advancements like augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analysis.
- Doing more with less by determining the quickest, most efficient way to automate field service operations.
- Transitioning to a customer success organization that sells customer business outcomes.
- Aligning talent recruitment and training with the needs of an evolved service/support business model.
Driving Service Innovation Using Technological Advancements Like Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI) And Big Data Analysis.
Augmented reality pilot programs are well underway and starting to reveal the best ways to use this technology for remote-assisted repair and troubleshooting.
Whether hands-free wearables or tablet devices are the hardware of choice, there are numerous software options to choose from to execute an AR strategy.Whether hands-free wearables or tablet devices are the hardware of choice, there are numerous software options to choose from to execute an AR strategy.
It’s clear that AR is not just a buzz word, but a concrete field service tool that’s here to stay and will be implemented by the majority of service organizations within the next three years.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotization are continually being explored in order to understand where technology can replace unnecessary human work, increase automation, and drive productivity. Bots are being used to get information to field service teams quickly and for memory nudging.
Virtual assistants or virtual customer agents are starting to be the norm. Innovative service organizations are looking to the further future to use machine learning to building autonomous services or self-healing, self-repairing products.
And, finally, data: Since devices became connected and IoT found its way into more and more products, we’ve never had more data on hand. Companies are spending their resources to ensure the data that is being gathered is clean, relevant, and easy to interpret.
It’s being used to measure product quality and gain performance insights from the field. Data visualization and analytics tools are helping to validate and adapt maintenance schedules, customer experience, and revenue generation.
Whether you classify this information as “big data” or not, it’s clear the data you now have available from connected products is essential for making “big” important business decisions and learning how you can better serve your customers.
Doing More With Less By Determining The Quickest, Most Efficient Way To Automate Field Service Operations.
Service executives are exploring the best tools for service automation in order to get more work done without increasing headcount. The speed of change and ease of implementation are key factors going into technology investment and process decisions.
Change management has never been more important. And lean, six sigma, and kaizen are being used to look beyond manufacturing to service operations to reduce complexity and streamline processes.
Artificial intelligence, as mentioned above, comes into play as a leading tool to increase automation.
Transitioning To A Customer Success Organization That Sells Business Outcomes
Service organizations are continuing their business model evolution away from selling products towards selling results, up-time or customer business outcomes.
Part of this entire company cultural shift has led to the development of “customer success” organizations.
Rather than calling the customer-facing side of the organization customer service, or support, or technical support, companies are using the name “success” to describe how they go above and beyond for the customers, owning responsibility for the success of their customer’s business.
Customer success takes into account being a trusted advisor to customers to ensure they are leveraging all the capabilities of your product offeringCustomer success takes into account being a trusted advisor to customers to ensure they are leveraging all the capabilities of your product offering. It, of course, brings together service and call centre support, as well as sales.
Customer success is sometimes its own department, or it can be a combination of sales and service. Of key importance is to understand how all parts of the organization that contribute to customer success can have aligned goals and incentives.
Service organizations are exploring customer engagement software and the best ways to measure the customer experience throughout all points of contact.
Aligning Talent Recruitment And Training With The Needs Of An Evolved Service And Support Business Model.
With a shift to more cloud and software-based services, the required skill set of technicians is changing.
Companies need to recruit for a new skill set while still trying to fill gaps in their team caused by baby boomer retirement, a lack of apprentices after apprenticeship programs were discontinued during the economic downturn, and with the positive challenge of business and customer growth.
Some companies are choosing to bring in computer science software folks, then train them on the hardware piece.
Some are using veteran career-placement programs to find qualified, screened, and trained talent.
Given field service and support is highly influenced by technology, its clear the industry, its solutions, and your customer needs will continue changing rapidly. On top of this, the current workforce needs to be trained to service products that are supported by more automation and digitization.
Even recruiting for women is taking a higher priority at many organizations, since women make up half of the workforce, but generally a much smaller percentage of the field service industry. Diversity and inclusion efforts are being carried out with the knowing that aligning goals, incentives, and measurement against these efforts is imperative to their success.
Given field service and support is highly influenced by technology, its clear the industry, its solutions, and your customer needs will continue changing rapidly.
This is a good thing as you’ve never had more ways to be able to move the needle of the service you provide your customers.
Plus it keeps things interesting for someone like me (a conference producer for your industry)!
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