The Transformation of Field Service Management: Artificial Intelligence As a Driving Force

Aug 22, 2019 • FeaturesArtificial intelligencemanuel grenacherSAP

The world of field service delivery is going through significant transformation currently and at the heart of that transformation lies Artificial Intelligence, Manuel Grenacher, GM of SAP Service Cloud writes...

Many industries and domains are already using artificial intelligence (AI). When it comes to field service management, however, AI is still a new aspect in the field of service excellence. Imagine customers calling their service provider because an installation is malfunctioning; a machine has to be maintained, or an urgently needed spare part is needed. It is always essential that a service technician is on-site quickly – not any technician, but the one with the required know-how and tools.

To support this process, field service management solutions based on AI help to coordinate and organize customer requests. Additionally, the waiting time for customers until their problem is fixed can be reduced immensely.

Since traditional resource planning can no longer cope with the enormous volume of service orders that arise, AI is an ideal solution. Artificial intelligence uses customer information and data to empower service companies so that they are able to make strategic and informed decisions.

Thorough analyses powered by AI help to streamline project planning, staffing requirements, new products, inventory management, and customer service.

Automation reduces workloads
Due to an ever-growing number of work orders, the time pressure on service staff is increasing. Automated bot systems based on artificial intelligence, such as chatbots, represent a forward-looking solution in field service management.

Chatbots assist service technicians and customers alike by giving them 24/7 feedback based on the company’s FAQs or data sheets as well as manuals to solve minor machinery defects autonomously. Thus, first level enquiries can be answered immediately, and on-site visits can be reduced.

In addition to chatbots, artificial intelligence is key to the automation of workflows in service sectors. Field service management solutions based on AI can take over the role of dispatchers, for example: They analyze customer inquiries and assign jobs to the most suitable service technician based on their qualifications, location, and availability. Companies benefit from more efficient and faster operational planning of their service staff. Consequently, advantages for customers are improvements in the fields of time and expert service.

Multichannel support, a recipe for happy customers
Customers increasingly expect service companies to be available on all possible channels in order to receive the best support for their issue.
AI applications can be used to collect, analyze, evaluate, and forward requests received via e-mail, social media, webchat, telephone, or in personal conversations with employees, that can then choose between different answer options. If necessary, these answers can be personalized and individualized to the customer’s request.
An approach like this accelerates the exchange with customers and enables real-time as well as multichannel support.

AI algorithms enable personalized service
Field service management solutions can gather data and, as a result, companies can access vast quantities of information with every single customer contact. Furthermore, AI algorithms help to analyze the collected data and draw conclusions for future deployments of service technicians by extracting relevant pieces of information.

Additionally, they offer information about when a service order is due or which tools are required. Machine learning also helps to calculate how long the next service deployment will take. All results and findings are stored in the field service management software and other linked systems so service technicians can access customer information at any time and location to customize their service according to the client’s needs.

Artificial intelligence is one of the most important future technologies in the area of field service management to be used to increase service excellence and to please customers.

It enables and improves a smarter and more efficient workforce by delivering reliable customer support in real-time. 

Manuel Grenacher is GM of SAP Service Cloud