The Four "R's" of Field Service

Feb 13, 2019 • FeaturesmanagementCloud Service

Customer be central to every organization’s customer support strategy. Every field service repair should be treated as an opportunity to exceed expectations and deliver a truly exceptional customer experience, writes Martin Boggess from Hitachi.

It’s imperative that your organization consistently deliver on the four “R’s” of field service management: delivering to the right person, at the right place, at the right time, with the right tools. Proper field service management ensures that work is completed in accordance with customer expectations — within their budget, timeline, and quality specifications. 

Meeting customer expectations is often easier said than done. Field service technicians are expected to be aware of everything that occurs at each stage of the customer lifecycle, to possess detailed technical knowledge about equipment and regulatory compliance, to execute complex repairs, and to draw upon this vast wealth of information at a moment’s notice — and they need to be able to do everything right the first time to avoid the dreaded callback. The job of a field service technician can be overwhelming, to say the least.

Fortunately, cloud and mobile technology have made it much easier for organizations to adopt field service software to automate and optimize core work processes, such as scheduling, dispatch management, contract, SLA and warranty management, inventory management, and more. Advanced field service solutions include applications tailored to complete specific tasks and resolve specific issues, which makes a field technician’s job more manageable and increases employee productivity in the process. To demonstrate how a field service solution can resolve some common problems, let’s look at a few examples.

As mentioned above, two of the four “R’s” of field service are the right person and the right tools. It’s essential that a field service organization dispatch the technician with the right level of expertise for the job and with the proper tools to complete the repair. Field service software makes it easier to match the right technician to the job, and the technician can then use the software to review service orders and see what parts they need for the job — all prior to meeting with the customer. This foresight drastically reduces the number of unnecessary trips and can increase an organization’s overall first-time fix rate.

"The job of a field service technician can be overwhelming, to say the least..."

Many field service solutions leverage mobile technology. Once a technician is on-site, they can use either a tablet or mobile phone to access the history of a piece of equipment, including previous repairs, previous service tickets, technician’s notes, meter readings, and so on. This information makes it easier for the technician to determine why the equipment is malfunctioning and what the best strategy is to repair it. Technicians can also use mobile field service applications to pull up service contracts while out in the field and present customers with accurate pricing.

The internet of things has also radically changed how field service organizations administer repairs. Put simply, the internet of things (IoT) is a system of connected devices capable of rapidly transferring data via virtual network. By attaching IoT-enabled sensors to equipment, field service organizations can receive real-time diagnostics from anywhere in the world, which enables them to identify and respond to issues before they even arise. This shift from a preventative repair model to a proactive model will be crucial to field service organizations’ success in an increasingly competitive market.

In addition to mobile and cloud technology, augmented and virtual reality are also transforming the way field service sector operates. Organizations can use AR and VR in conjunction with IoT-enabled devices to simplify knowledge transfer via interactive training, while technicians can use it to access equipment repair history and diagnostics without taking it apart and even perform remote fixes. Since AR and VR are still relatively new technology, only certain field solutions will offer AR and VR functionality.

As you can see, field service solutions provide innovative tools and capabilities to reduce costs and increase employee productivity and first-time fix rates. Hitachi Solutions’ Extended Field Service solution is one such solution with extended functionality to optimize scheduling, simplify contract and inventory management, increase mobile productivity, perform remote troubleshooting, deliver an end-to-end customer-centric experience, and more.
Martin Boggess is Industry VP, Manufacturing and Field Service at Hitachi Solutions America.