In a recent presentation for the Field Service News Digital Symposium, Mark Hessinger, Vice President, Global Customer Services, 3D Systems, Corporation, outlined the benefits his organisation had witnessed having implemented an Artificial Intelligence solution provided by Aquant.
One of the areas that Hessinger referenced during the presentation was the reduction in repeat visits and the increase in first-time fix rates. This, of course, will have a significant impact on the bottom line of the service P&L with the truck roll almost always being the most expensive line on the spreadsheet. As the adage goes, if you have to send an engineer on-site once then you are breaking even, even if you have to send an engineer twice, you're losing money. So this improvement, in and of itself, was a massive plus in the presentation.
However, given the backdrop of 2020 where the world has radically changed as a result of the reaction to Covid-19, the question was raised during the Q&A that followed Hessinger's presentation whether Aquant's AI-powered triage tool could be suitable to help facilitate zero-touch or remote assistance services as well?
Could the Aquant solution help provide a mechanism for service delivery for those customers who require a guided self-help approach to issue resolution?
"I'd say the tool is a building block to enable us to get there," Hessinger answered when the idea was put to him.
"We need it integrated with the other systems and information because it connects them to the knowledge management, to the information. We're currently doing a proof of concept to pull in some AR (augmented reality) technology as well. We believe integrating the AR technology can help guide someone first using the AI tool to go in the right direction and then guide them remotely on how to execute a repair. If you put both of these pieces together, I think the quantity of remote resolutions will go up dramatically," Hessinger added.
"Typically, your field service engineer builds a good relationship with the customer and becomes part of the face of the company right. We still want to have those touch-points, but we need to make sure we're doing them differently..."
This leads us to an interesting question - in a post-pandemic world just how much has the perception of value shifted in terms of remote service vs on-site service delivery?
Often it has felt that there's been a more perceived value to a site visit than remote services. As we mentioned earlier, it is an expensive line on the P&L compared to a remote service. This was one of the reasons that many felt that remote assistance technologies such as Augmented Reality have never quite taken off in the way that we might have imagined. However, that has changed massively in the last five months in the eyes of many customers.
Yet, for the savvy service organisation, the on-site service call is far more than a mere maintenance operation. It is an opportunity to engage with the customer, to showcase the expertise within the organisation, and ultimately to secure ongoing business and even open up new revenue streams.
So the question is, how do field service organisations use remote service within their service portfolio as an active engagement channel as many have mastered with the service call?
As Hessinger explains "Typically, your field service engineer builds a good relationship with the customer and becomes part of the face of the company right. We still want to have those touch-points, but we need to make sure we're doing them differently. If I can see you on video, I've made a better connection than if I sent you a text message.
"We need to leverage how do we continue to build those relationships. If we were with a customer three times a year, and now we can do things better, only one time a year, we need to make sure we still have a high touch with the customer to build that kind of rapport and relationship."
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