Of all the technologies that have disrupted field service management, mobility has the most profound impact so far. Mobility effects a paradigm shift in the way field service technicians work, collaborates, communicates, and file reports, among other things.
The obvious benefit of mobility in field service is in dispatching. Any decent Field Service Management suite (FSM) offers a scheduling component to sync and streamline the movement of technicians between different locations. Intuitive suites automate scheduling, assigning the nearest and most competent technician to the repair or service locale.
Historically, field service has been associated with loose controls, and consequently, delayed service calls, vague and unreliable estimates, and overall slack.
Any decent Field Service Management suite, with the data and the logic residing in the cloud, and each stakeholder or employee connected to it through intuitive mobile apps, offers real-time visibility and updates to all stakeholders, including the technician, supervisor, and customers. Such a set-up improves control greatly.
For the enterprise, real-time monitoring of the field service technicians movement not only prompts the timely dispatch of the nearest technician to resolve an issue that has flared up but also issues alerts to technicians on-the-move to avoid a congested route and more. Supervisors may keep a close eye on things, and keep customers in the loop as to when exactly the issue would be resolved.
For the customer, the real-time visibility into the technician’s movement offers the assurance of help coming at the promised time. The predictions and estimates made by the FSM suite are a big improvement over hitherto hazy guesswork.
Such nuances, may on the face of it seem insignificant but can add up to create a big difference to profitability, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.
Mobility powered field service management software redefines how customers communicate with field service organizations and technicians. Mobile apps now facilitate almost the entire gamut of customer interactions, from making a service request to invoicing, from notification alerts to status reports, and more.
At the operational front, the mobile device captures much of the transactional data automatically. Even whatever has to be entered manually may be validated with a range and in any case, transmitted electronically without the need to take rough notes in the field and then re-enter the same info into the system once the technician reaches the office. Not only is duplicate effort eliminated, but a big source of error as the transcribed notes are fed into the ERP is also tackled effectively.
Mobility is set to become even more pervasive. The apps of tomorrow will allow self-service as a norm. Chatbots or its finer versions would initiate automated communications and process tasks automatically, in a timely manner, with the technician updated accordingly, without the need for human customer support agent interventions.
Novice and inexperienced technicians already rely on their mobile devices to call up an experienced supervisor or colleague, to guide them through the steps on how to fix an unfamiliar machine. Self-diagnostic IoT sensors and virtual reality increase the reliance on smartphones and even establish a new, effective paradigm out of such a model. Highly skilled technicians now remain at the main office, collaborating with rookie technicians in the field through a robust communication mechanism offered by the field service management suite apps. The field service company is spared the cost to deploy multiple skilled technicians, and the customer spared the hassles of a long wait time before a skilled technician can make his round, offering a win-win proposition.
The introduction of newer mobility technology such as wearables makes mobility controlled service even more convenient and effective.
Mobile devices, hooked up with the field service management suite, which in turn is hooked up to IoT sensors deployed at the machinery or the worksite allow technicians to access the machines remotely, to gauge status updates, customer history, and other vital trends. The technician already being equipped with the right data before making the visit increases first-time fix rates significantly. At the very least, the technician could come with the necessary spares, pre-empting a re-visit.
A crisis or even an opportunity rarely occurs when everything is in place and the person responsible for a decision is seated nicely in front of the computer. Mobility offers the next best solution. Managers and supervisors on-the-move may easily attend to their work in real-time, without holding up things causing delays. The implications extend to offering real-time intervention and fixes for holdups or issues in the field. The improved visibility offered by field service management apps, backed by data analytics, make explicit both open and latent pain points, is the first step towards creating effective workarounds or fixes.
Reactive maintenance is now passe. Today’s highly competitive business environment demands proactiveness and seizing the moment. Such a business culture requires 100% uptime, and which in turn requires preventive and predictive maintenance. Mobility, especially in conjunction with IoT, facilitates proactive maintenance. IoT sensors gauge the state of the machinery on a real-time basis, and issue automated alerts to the technician or his controller, at a set time period, or when warning signs of failure start to manifest.
Mobility facilitates remote resolution of the problem as well. Customers or clients who have downloaded the field service app could receive guided instructions from a technician, who too would be using a similar app. Likewise, technicians could remotely reboot a machine or upload new software, even without visiting the site.
Mobility is today the lifeblood of field service, but it is still early days. The stakes of mobility are all set to increase even more. As companies innovate to co-opt mobility in the scheme of things, new mobility-centric models are set to entrench itself as benchmarks to emulate in the field service industry.
Sachin works as a part of the digital marketing team at ReachOut Suite. He believes in a healthy and resourceful web and does his own little contributions for the purpose by creating and disseminating innovative and quality content.
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