How to Conduct Field Service Operations in the New Normal
The new normal unleashed by COVID-19 places emphasis on contactless services and online delivery. But servicing or repairing equipment requires physical contact. Asking a customer to wait for long can lead to major losses in your field service business. This situation calls for innovative and enterprising solutions.
Here are 5 ways by which field service operators can reduce physical contacts and still deliver efficient fixes.
1. Offer Self-Service Solutions
In the new normal of COVID-19, a technician may visit a customer’s site only to resolve advanced issues. For basic issues, maintenance providers can offer self-service options through websites and mobile apps.
- Curate detailed, yet simple and systematic instructions for the user to diagnose the common issues.
- Offer videos for DIY troubleshooting and help.
- If the customer seeks help in identifying issues, ask questions in plain language, and recommend the most likely fix.
- Provide an option to connect with a remote technician for live, remote instructions.
Success depends on curating effective self-service content. Offer simple instructions that can be understood even by a non-professional. Break down complex technical jargon to simple terms.
2. Institute Remote Diagnostics
Field service businesses need to offer remote diagnostics wherever possible, to avoid site visits.
Some repairs involve changing parts. Here, the technician can conduct a visual session from the service van, after handing over the part to the user. The technician remaining close at hand improves response and overcomes the tech barrier better.
Either way, the success of remote diagnostics depends on the following considerations:
- Develop a smart Artificial Intelligence-based support system to triage problems. A good AI-based system understands customer intent regardless of how they describe the problem. It generates intelligent checklists to understand the problem and makes appropriate service recommendations.
- Deploy robust collaboration tools for technicians to live-stream from their office or home. Train technicians to use the tool well. Provide customers documentation and tutorials for gaining familiarity with the tool.
- Institute a knowledge management system. Remote technicians have to access the company’s knowledge base to be effective.
- Enable remote help through Augmented Reality solutions for customers with state-of-the-art hardware. Develop solutions to integrate service management solutions with customer smartphones and AR devices.
3. Track Equipment Performance to Pre-Empt Issues
Prevention is better than cure. Equipment users who make timely interventions to rectify anomalies better avoid technicians visiting them.
Develop predictive maintenance models using historical and IoT sensor data. Such models give early warning signs of trouble. For instance, low fluid alerts, or a warning when a critical parameter deviates outside a range can enable prompt remedial actions. It is far easier to service functioning machines than to fix failures or repair breakdowns.
4. Increase First Contact Resolution
Self-service or remote resolution is not always the best of workarounds. When site visits become inevitable, always strive for “the first-contact resolution”.
- Confirm customer information over a call before the service visit. Train customer support agents to get the maximum information at the first point of contact.
- Make sure the dispatched technicians understand the issue. A technician going in without understanding the context only makes a diagnostic visit, superfluous in today’s context. Technicians who proceed to the site with full knowledge of the issue make a speedy repair, spending minimal time at the premises.
- Send in a technician competent to undertake the task on hand. Assigning a junior agent to resolve a complex issue results in a botched up job, and repeat visits. Or you need to make senior technicians give a walkthrough to junior techs using collaborative tools. Inexperienced technicians swapping parts until a fix falls in place is inefficient and dangerous in today’s times.
- Apply analytics to merge many service calls from a large establishment into a single visit.
- Make sure the technician reaching the site has appropriate tools, spares, and other resources.
Salesforce reports that more than three out of every four consumers express dissatisfaction if a field service engineer does not resolve the issue at the first visit. This is even without the COVID-19 pandemic concerns.
5. Deploy a Field Service Management Suite
A field service management suite streamlines field operations. It enables many innovations to cut contact and make site visits the least disruptive to customers.
- Intelligent scheduling allows companies to decrease the exposure of field agents.
- Intelligent route planning ensures field agents spend minimal time on the road.
- “Swing Shift” models ensure technicians service the equipment during off-hours. Staggered crew dispatch cuts interaction.
- Automated back-end processing, delivered through field management suites, reduces risk and improves efficiency.
- Automated and customized checklists and digital forms ensure compliance with COVID-19 protocols and contactless inspections.
- Auto-generated invoices and forms, with electronic payments, further cut physical contact.
Many service organizations underestimate the importance of efficient inventory management. A lack of right parts can delay service resolution, and force revisits. An automated inventory management system, synced to scheduling, eliminates hold-ups.
Minimizing contact and reducing site visits make a sound business proposition during COVID-19 times. It makes good business sense even beyond the current pandemic times, considering the efficiencies and cost savings involved.
Get in touch with us to understand how ReachOut can help restrict your technicians’ site visits and still serve your customers better!
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