How Technology can be Leveraged to Overcome Challenges in the Field Services Industry

Constant technological innovations are assisting businesses to achieve their strategic goals and help address their challenges. Field service is not that far behind. The field service industry is rapidly changing with the advent of cutting-edge technology. This evolution enables field service businesses to become more profitable and provide a better customer experience. It includes automation, AI, and mixed reality to assist technicians in achieving their work goals with minimum effort.

Core sector industries may not have a focus on field services, but they still might have to manage some field operations. Efficiently managing their field service operations could be challenging in increasing workloads. For instance, a television manufacturer may need on-site teams to install their product at customer locations. Furthermore, managing service, maintenance of machinery, and delivery of goods become a tedious task for businesses to be adequately streamlined. This is where digitally transforming field service operations becomes a viable option for businesses.

If field service is not digitized, businesses face a plethora of challenges. Businesses relying on legacy tools for field service management experience a loss of work productivity and face challenges managing their workforce.

Moreover, legacy systems can make such businesses thrust towards obsolesce and lead to digital oblivion. With a better management system in place, companies get a jump in advantage over their competitor counterparts with better, more streamlined business procedures. This, in turn, enhances customer experience and keeps the customer indulged and interested in continuing their engagement with the business.

Field services operations majorly face challenges managing these aspects of operations:

1. Work order management: Work order management includes identifying, allocating, completing, inspecting, and recording all tasks involved. However, work order management has its various list of challenges. These challenges increase the risk of an unmanaged business. Bad workflows can lead to a loss in productivity.

Field service management software can help resolve just that. Businesses can organize their workflow to streamline the work and increase efficiency. With field management software, you can track your employees’ movements, their ongoing tasks, reassign or change their jobs, and more. Automating workflows can provide you with the tools and data necessary to quickly control, supervise and make decisions about every aspect of your business and employees to minimize inefficiency and optimize productivity.

2. Scheduling: Businesses relying on legacy tools (or even Excel spreadsheets) to manage their scheduling and dispatching operations often experience the effects of time-consuming manual scheduling management that seldom leads to scheduling conflict. Any FSM software's key benefit is enabling companies to assign field workers efficiently and accurately to jobs off-site.
Moreover, with automation, dispatchers create schedules based on mobile worker availability, skill set, and location (if an in-person visit is needed). This eliminates manual effort, scheduling errors, and any unintentional bias.

FSM software, like Dynamics 365 Field Service, provides the functionality to manage resources and equipment needed by field workers for service. Such software incorporates all the necessary information like workers' skills, equipment, and existing schedules along with the specific customer cases and location, enabling businesses to visualize onsite appointments, optimize service schedules, and ensure efficient routing and skill matching.

3. Crew utilization: While the customer experience is undoubtedly essential, field service businesses must also pay attention to their technicians' experience. This includes ensuring technicians are equipped with the necessary information, tools, and abilities to do their best work without accidents, health risks, or biased scheduling. This will increase customer satisfaction and retention and reduce the organization's return visit cost.

The AI-driven field services management and automation solutions enable technicians to manage their appointment schedules better and get turn-by-turn driving instructions to customers. High-quality AI-driven FSM software can identify the most qualified technicians for each job and eliminate bias in scheduling.

Field service organizations face a significant challenge in managing their resources. This includes inventory and technician availability on time. An AI-driven field services management solution can automate work processes and streamline the entire process, from scheduling to customer communications.

Intelligent scheduling allows you to assign the most qualified technician to work orders. Many field service management software offers mobile applications widely supported by all modern smartphones. These mobile apps provide the technician with all the necessary information, including maintenance history and instructions for servicing equipment. This also enables technicians to track and monitor resource inventories to have all the necessities they need to complete the job. Using advanced route management with the help of maps and AI may also lead to the best utilization of the crew by effectively organizing their schedule, leading to better time savings.

4. Site inspection: With the traditional field service management, field technicians are usually dispatched according to availability and not experience with the device. The technician might also arrive without the necessary equipment and customer information, which could impact the ability to complete the task in a single visit. Solutions like IoT can help field technicians better identify problems and share real-time situations with their remote teams. A fair example would be the Lidar scanners on modern smartphones. These sensors can help map the site to scale and further help technicians—or designers, for that matter—to find the ideal solution to solve the problem. Another example can be when a technician is scheduled to visit to repair coffee vending machines and realize that the machine’s maintenance is also due in a week. The technician can read such information when they have equipment loaded with enough historical data and leading indicators, enabling proactive services.

5. Customer satisfaction: Satisfied customers are the key to every business’s continued success. Good field management software provides more customer satisfaction by allowing better communication and service updates between you and your clients. Field service customers need to feel secure and reliable in their business. They expect their problems to be solved quickly and with minimal downtime, all while feeling informed, respected, empowered, and supported.

Before AI-powered systems, customers had to reach out to service providers to report their device malfunctioning. Depending on the type and extent of the failure, the work may slow down or stop until the technician arrives. AI allows remote, automated self-healing, predictive forecasting, monitoring, and analysis of connected devices for potential problems. With AI-driven field service technology, the system can identify the problem and remotely resolve it using self-healing methods. This reduces downtime and also cuts down the time it takes for a technician to arrive.

AI-driven FMS systems can leverage historical data and predictive analytics to recommend technician visits. It will notify the customer to plan around any downtime. It can also track the technician's arrival and appointment in real time. This will give customers more control over their assets and enable field service organizations to deliver better service.

With their field services digitized, businesses can optimize scheduling, enhance customer engagement, improve operational efficiencies and enable their teams to perform better with better tools.

Effective field service management reduces the bar when, where, and how the services are to be provided to customers, which leads to the complete focus on the service and providing the best experience while managing ROIs.