Mobility and the cloud: The next technology frontiers of field service management

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If your service business depends on technicians or engineers going out to deliver services to customers in their homes, businesses or anywhere else for that matter, then you need to be embracing the latest cloud and mobility technologies to survive and thrive in the 21st century.

After all, the global Field Service Management (FSM) market is estimated to jump from $1.58 billion last year to over $3.5 billion by 2019, according to the latest Field Service Management Market – Global Forecasts to 2019 report from research firm MarketsandMarkets. And it will be those companies that adopt the best and most innovative cloud and mobility solutions to deliver the fastest and most efficient field services that flourish in the future.

Field service staff have typically been managed and despatched to customers in a fairly traditional and hierarchical manner. Nowadays that’s just not a viable model as demanding consumers, used to instant “uberised” service and status updates expect everything to be delivered faster, more flexibly and more responsively.

The power of cloud computing and the ubiquity of mobile devices means companies can now redesign their entire FSM process to the benefit of both the engineer and the customer, ensuring that everyone has all the information they want, whenever and wherever they need it.

Levelling the playing field

As well as being the next frontier for field service management, alongside mobility, the cloud is also a great leveller, enabling every organisation, no matter what size, location or business model to rapidly adopt and improve upon the same applications and processes that will drive enhanced customer service for everyone.

Any company can get started more quickly with cloud-based solutions that will help them and their technicians to operate in a much more flexible, agile and responsive way than they were able to in the past. All of which benefits the customer, many of whom only have an experience of dealing with a company or a brand when something goes wrong and the engineer or technician arrives at their door.

Ultimately, it is the customer that is actually driving the need for service providers to use cloud and mobility in FSM. The key to keeping customers happy is to ensure that the service they receive is as smooth and efficient as possible for them and that they are kept informed at all times.

And the best way in which providers can achieve this is to think of the field engineer as their “brand ambassador”, the key person representing their company to their customers. Make sure that they are properly digitally enabled, with the right applications running seamlessly across their mobile devices, backed up with the most relevant and up-to-the-minute information from head office/dispatch teams. Technicians enabled in this way will be able to keep customers informed about their expected arrival time, be informed on the background of the problem, know about any special circumstances of the property or customer, have the right parts with them and most importantly, be able to fix the problem in one visit. This is a very powerful way of ensuring that customer engagement with field teams is a true representation of the brand. With all of this in place, businesses can drive an increased level of brand loyalty and higher levels of satisfaction from their customers.

Learn to utilise your existing workforce

Established field service companies must learn to utilise their existing workforce, putting the most useful technologies in the hands of mobile employees. True innovation only really occurs when cloud and mobile tech is deployed in ways that allow field technicians to do a better job, connecting with the head office/dispatch teams more effectively than was previously possible while offering the type of “enhanced human touch” that keeps the customer happy. This can be via a face-to-face interaction on a home visit, or through via instant messaging, phone or email follow-ups.

And as more field service enterprises start using systems and processes dependent on cloud and user-friendly mobile technologies, it really is that element of enriched human interaction that can make the difference to them and their customers.

Ultimately, as well as valuing our time and not wanting to waste it sitting around waiting for an engineer to come, we are all social animals and we really appreciate the human touch when we are dealing with service companies. And we certainly don’t appreciate having to spend hours on the phone trying to find out when the technician will arrive!

Turn the hierarchy on its head

While businesses are always focused on managing operational costs, it’s also important for field service companies to think about customer satisfaction. As products become more commoditised, service delivery becomes the differentiator. Companies need to improve their customer experience while keeping operational costs in check. Servicing the needs of the business and the customer.

The key challenge here for companies is to facilitate and promote new and flexible forms of communication that give their field workers more autonomy and discretion to operate in ways that keep customers happy and give them that all-important feeling of having a reliable, friendly and on-demand human connection to their supplier.

Stop thinking that only customer service teams, websites, retail stores and sales people are the face of the organisation - the conventional way in which business was done. Having a (truly) digitally-empowered mobile workforce requires (and drives) this type of thinking to be turned on its head.

If these providers can use new technologies to authorise and inspire their field service workers to make their own decisions wherever and whenever possible, and to communicate effectively and instantly with customers, as opposed to making decisions from the top of the hierarchy and passing them down the chain, the organisation will rapidly become far more agile and customer-focused. From this they will see big differences in customer satisfaction (who wants to receive tweets from unhappy customers because their engineer is late or failed to complete the job?).

FSM, the cloud and mobility - faster, happier, more productive

Embracing the latest cloud and mobility technology helps companies to develop a far more collaborative, immediate and customer-focused infrastructure and to enable a culture where customer service is the priority. One where a mobile network of technicians and engineers are both enabled and encouraged to put the customer first and as brand ambassadors, are driving customer loyalty and potentially identifying opportunities to sell more products and services to the customer while on-site.

These technologies help take advantage of how things really work on the ground. It ensures that engineers, technicians and customers can have immediate access to the most relevant data and information they need, at their fingertips on whichever device they are using, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

All of which makes their job easier and the entire customer experience far more seamless and pleasurable than was previously possible. And the business will reap the commercial benefits, through actively promoting a more collaborative infrastructure that intuitively learns from and takes advantage of each current situation.

Cloud and mobility are the future of the industry, it’s time for field service companies to take advantage or risk being left behind by their rivals.

 

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Wings2i
9 Jul 2016, 7 a.m.

Quite an insightful article on Field Service Management, Mobility & Cloud

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