Andrew Bolivar, Senior Consultant at Ultra Consultants explores how a firm understanding of Best-Practices can help field service companies increase efficiencies...
Effectively managing service technicians in the field has always presented a challenge for companies offering on-site customer service. The complexity of efficiently delivering those services has been a recurring problem, but technology and an enlightened approach to business process improvement provide the enterprise with a solution.
Modern technologies that streamline the management of field operations transform processes for employees as well as customers and key stakeholders.
However, it’s not merely embracing new technology that will enable the enterprise to optimize its field service operations; it also requires a comprehensive analysis of existing business processes and a strategic plan to create the desired future state of operations.
The Traditional Perspective
Field service was traditionally considered an extra, post-sales service, often operated as a low priority cost center with limited potential for expanding business. In today’s competitive marketplace, many companies differentiate themselves by providing additional services that wrap-around traditional product offerings.
Legacy field service management (FSM) solutions frequently lack a comprehensive suite of services. Many companies have cobbled together different solutions to secure all the functionality needed to operate efficiently.
Field service management has evolved into an essential tool which provides tremendous value in generating additional revenue from new and repeat business from existing customers.
Today’s Approach Leverages Technology and Improved Business Processes:
The introduction of field service mobile apps, GPS navigation and email alerts has ushered in a new era for field service. It has become a high priority standard and is a key differentiator when it comes to effective business operations and ongoing customer relationships.
An end-to-end FSM solution may include scheduling and routing optimization, vehicle location, driver logs and hours-of-service tracking, inventory management, field worker management and other benefits like reporting and analytics. All combine to provide a comprehensive view of the asset’s service history throughout its lifecycle.
Current FSM solutions make it possible to maintain a 360-degree view of customer sites, equipment and service coverage. Time between call receipts and job assignments can be shortened. You can be assured that the right technician, with the right tools, and the right skills and certifications, will arrive at the right time and complete the required service without delay.
Automated Business Processes Provide Improvements in Four Key Areas:
Here are ways that an automated FSM solution can improve business results
1. Improved performance:
- Tracking the root causes of field service requests can drive better quality analysis and identify product design and/or business process improvements.
- An integrated field service management system can provide visibility of new installations or sales and ensure continuous contact with customers at critical phases of their engagement with the company.
- A full view of an asset's lifecycle helps ensure proactive service and warranty management calls
2. Increased productivity:
- Mobile field service applications optimize travel and scheduling for field technicians.
- Integrated warranty management and cost tracking eliminates wasted time and reduces receivables collection time.
- Visibility into your customer’s equipment and service history allow you to plan your inventory and tool requirements sooner – avoiding costly delays and downtime
3. Reduced costs:
- Real-time resource scheduling ensures quick response to customer calls and reduces the cost of idle time between on-site customer visits.
- Integrated, real-time service information reduces the waste in non-productive activities, improves service planning and reduces the need and cost for excess inventory allocated to repair.
4. Improved customer satisfaction
- Faster response time to customer calls and requests not only improves relationships with customers, but also enables opportunities to develop add-on and repeat business.
- Mobile applications and GPS enablement allow companies to alert customers of expected arrival times and access to data via mobile devices ensures field service personnel can be better prepared for each engagement.
Growth is Strong, with North American Market Leading the Way
The field service management market has been estimated to exceed $3.5 billion by 2019 with North America predicted to be the largest market size. Stratistics MRC expects FSM to reach nearly $4.5 billion by 2022 with a CAGR of 16.5 percent. Enhanced customer satisfaction and reducing operational costs are driving market growth while the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) provides ample additional opportunities.
Optimized Field Service Management Offers Huge Opportunity
Customers are increasingly expecting efficiency in field service – and are willing to pay a premium for it.
Leveraging the potential of field service automation with a proper analysis and deployment of appropriate business process improvements can increase the efficiency and productivity of field personnel, reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction.
Companies sticking with legacy systems that don’t optimize field service operations may find their customers increasingly seeking companies that leverage technology to better deliver customer service.
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