Perhaps no one understands the challenges of “moving parts” better than field service executives. To keep customer equipment working at peak efficiency, they have to ensure their fleets roll reliably and, when necessary, flexibly. If technicians can’t optimize their day, customer satisfaction and sales suffer.
According to a Field Service USA survey, 42 percent of field services leaders say reducing costs and improving profit margins drive their decisions to automate or digitize operations through sensors and stronger communications techniques. The next most important factor, cited by 34 percent of respondents, is the need to retain customers and ensure business viability.
“An additional significant benefit is the increase in customer satisfaction that comes from any reduction in the downtime of an asset in need of servicing,” the survey said. “More productive assets directly contribute to the bottom line of the customer, while reducing the costs of servicing them by allowing a more predictable and time-optimized service schedule with more infrequent on-site visits.”
What makes all of this possible is cloud communications. In fact, the cloud is the key when it comes to eliminating five key obstacles that field service organizations face in generating higher profitability and customer satisfaction.
Fix it now. Customers are finely attuned to response times. When equipment breaks down, they want to be back online as soon as possible. Any failure to deliver on these high expectations is sure to make them unhappy, which in turn puts future sales at risk.
Since many organizations still rely on paper records, one surefire way to increase the number of successful engagements is to integrate field services management software with a cloud communications solution. With digitized records, every call is put into context for the dispatcher. He can review the customer’s full history, identify and dispatch an available technician with the right expertise and confirm that necessary parts are available.
Call me first. Once the dispatcher matches technicians with the customer’s issue, he or she has to be able to connect with them. With cloud communications, the technician can be reached easily via mobile app, chat or voice call. According to the Field Services survey, 60 percent of organizations have made the shift to mobile-first, while the rest have plans to follow. Equipping technicians with mobile devices is the fastest way to ensure the right person is on the way to the customer location and to know when they’ll arrive. This knowledge helps dispatchers manage customer expectations more effectively.
Get the right part to the customer site. Inventory management software should also be integrated with cloud communications. If the technician doesn’t have a needed part on his or her truck, dispatchers can check inventory and have it delivered directly to the customer location. Again, this allows the dispatcher to appropriately set customer expectations even while optimizing the technician’s schedule.
Alleviate the time squeeze. Time – or lack of it – is the technician’s biggest challenge. If he or she is fully booked when the dispatcher calls, the ability to squeeze in another repair that day diminishes. Cloud communications gives dispatchers more options. They can send an available technician with less experience to the customer site, for instance. Then, using collaboration tools like video conferencing, that technician can connect with a subject matter expert who’ll walk him or her through the repair.
Anticipate and act. With sensors and the Internet of Things, field service organizations can be more proactive and create memorable customer experiences. Sensors detect when equipment is in need of maintenance or repair, often before the client even notices. Once alerted, the dispatcher can arrange a service call. And as this technology evolves, more repairs will be handled remotely, reducing the need to send trucks out.
Cloud communications is certain to transform the field service industry, especially as organizations integrate enterprise management software, sensors and the Internet of Things. These changes will go a long way to reducing, or even eliminating, current challenges, and executives will see noticeable improvements in their team's efficiency and productivity, as well as higher customer satisfaction scores — and more revenue.