Digital transformation is integrating digital technology into core business areas. The underlying objectives behind digitization are to improve operations and deliver customer value. Utilities of all hues, be it electrical or energy supply, waste removal services, gas providers, water supply providers, communication providers, or others, can take the easy route to digitization by implementing field service management software.
The new digital-first economy makes digital transformation inevitable for most enterprises. Today’s customers prefer to engage through digital channels. They are also impatient and demand fast services. They get annoyed, for instance, if it takes too long to redress their query or even receive delayed invoices. Gen Y and Z employees are tech-savvy and prefer working with the latest technology. Side-by-side, hyper-competition forces enterprises to seek operational efficiencies. Legacy technology is unsuitable for coping with such changed realities. Enterprises must upgrade to the newest technology to remain competitive.
Utilities are not immune from such a situation. They face stiff competition in a deregulated environment. Unless they overhaul their systems to become efficient, they face losses, and their business becomes unsustainable. They also need to overhaul their systems and have a strong customer focus, to improve customer satisfaction levels and retain customers. Digital transformation also becomes necessary to attract and retain talent when skilled and dedicated employees are hard to come by.
Read more: Why Utility Companies Need to Improve Field-Level Customer Service
One of the critical areas of digital transformation for utilities is field service. Utilities have their field of operations spread across the countryside. Robust field management software makes it easy for supervisors to control operations. Supervisors may track field agents in real-time and speed up things. Mobile apps linked to the field service software offer agents relevant information and resources. The app also delivers big-timer efficiency improvements. Without field service management software, the business remains stuck in the previous generation. They cannot cater to the changed expectations of their customers or employees and soon lose ground to competitors.
No enterprise can afford to change everything in one go. Utilities need to prioritize their field services, as it is a critical area to make efficiency gains. Within field service, they need to focus on digitizing the following core areas:
1. Scheduling: Manual scheduling is inefficient and error-prone. Assigning field agents to open work orders is far more complex than assigning the order to the next agent in line. The scheduler has to match jobs with qualifications and plot schedules to minimize travel time. They also have to consider leaves and working hours. Due to agents sick leaves or customers making change requests, changes to set schedules complicate the scenario. Change in any schedule has a spillover effect on other schedules involving the same agent. Even a slight delay can affect critical sectors such as utilities. Digitising automates complicated processes and makes the process seamless. Intelligent algorithms calculate the various permutations and combinations behind assigning agents to jobs.
2. Dispatching: Workforce productivity and profitability depend on efficient dispatching. If field agents spend too much time reaching their work site, the number of sites covered per shift reduces. The business may end up in loss to complete a work order. Automated dispatching ensures that field agents reach their work site in the shortest possible time. The software integrates maps to plot the best routes, considering traffic and road conditions. Seamless dispatching is critical for utilities, where timely resolution can save lives.
3. Tracking: Field service is outside the manager’s traditional locus of control. The spread-out nature of work sites makes supervision difficult. Field service software comes with mobility options. Smartphone apps linked to the field service management software offer the live location of field agents. Managers may use such real-time locations to track progress and correct any delays. Customers get accurate, Uber-like ETA with the current position of the assigned technician.
4. Audits and Inspections: Audits and inspections are time-consuming and non-value-adding activities. Yet, compliance and reporting make these tasks indispensable. Field service software offers ready-made custom forms for these tasks. Electronic inspection forms auto-populate fields to improve accuracy. It also co-opts audio, image, and videos to make reports more powerful. Service managers may also use forms and checklists to structure workflows.
5. Invoicing: Many utilities underestimate the importance of prompt and accurate invoicing. Delayed invoicing or errors in invoices delays collections and increase disputes. Delays and mistakes occur with manual invoices. Agents make errors when taking meter recordings or gathering information from other databases. With automated invoices, the field service software pulls data and auto-generates the invoice. Integrated payment collection platforms, such as PayPal, offer different payment options to customers.
The underlying thread behind these digitization initiatives is customer focus and efficiency improvements. Digitizing critical field services processes speed up work execution and streamlines service delivery. Customer satisfaction improves.
Read more: Why do Enterprise Audits Fail? How FSM Prevents Audit Failures
ReachOut field service software enables utilities to upgrade their digital capabilities without friction. The software automates scheduling and dispatching, allows customizing forms, and auto-generates invoices. Utilities get real-time visibility into their field operations. Service managers may manage everything from a single platform accessible through an app or browser. Native integrations and robust APIs enable seamless data transfers among enterprise databases. Easy calendar views and drag-and-drop interfaces, for instance, make scheduling a breeze. Schedulers may also assign jobs to multiple agents and reassign jobs to cope with changed circumstances.
Intuitive dashboards, accessible through mobile apps, offer field agents accurate information. Push notifications keep field agents and other stakeholders updated on changes. The forms marketplace offers ready-to-use forms to structure workflows and conduct inspections. Stylized forms enable an easy transition from pen-and-paper mode to digital mode. Field agents need not go through a learning curve or new technology disruption. Automated, flexible reports and instant invoicing deliver process efficiency. Automatic back-end updates of accounts save field executives from mundane clerical tasks. The software verifies timesheets and auto-dispatches job reports to the customer.
ReachOut Suite field service management software allows utility companies to upgrade their digital capabilities. Utility companies can enjoy the benefits of digital transformation without the hassles of change.
Aarathy is a Senior Digital Marketing Analyst at ReachOut Suite. She is majorly into content marketing and focuses on getting the messaging right across a host of marketing collaterals. While not working on content, you can find her juggling SEO, social media, branding and more. She enjoys exploring new frontiers in digital marketing and the associated challenges keep her going.
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