You’re probably one of the 53 percent of field service leaders that are prioritizing improving efficiency in your organization. And if you’re not: why? Your organization’s level of overall efficiency affects your ability to deliver customers the service they deserve, and almost 50 percent of customers switch providers to avoid a poor customer service experience.
Automation in field service management is not new, but according to our data, 15 percent of organizations are still using manual methods to manage their field service business—maybe you’re one of them.
However, here are just three reasons why you can no longer afford to ignore field service automation—businesses using field service automation have seen:
- An increase in productivity by 27 percent
- An increase by 17 percent in revenue
- An increase by 19 percent in customer satisfaction.
While these stats look good, there are also other external factors fueling the need for organizations to adopt field service automation. In this article I’ll go through each factor, detailing why field service businesses must acknowledge them:
- The millennials in your workforce don’t want to use manual methods
- The future is proactive, not reactive
- The future also looks like zero touch automation.
The millennials in your workforce don’t want to use manual methods
Millennials now make up the largest percentage of the US workforce. Having been brought up in the era of modern technology, millennials are the digital natives of the current day workforce, a fact that lends itself well to field service automation.
In fact, millennials are said to be driving workplace automation: they know already that automation helps them to do their jobs more efficiently, and will expect you to provide the necessary technology in order to do that.
On the whole, using manual methods in the workplace is not the millennial’s second nature, whereas digitalized tasks are. Millennials are engaged by technology in the workplace, as much as they are in their personal lives.
If you resist the automation of field service tasks, you risk alienating and/or losing a large portion of your workforce. Gallup’s report, “Millennials: The Job-Hopping Generation“, reveals how millennials are the generation who are most likely to reject job tenure in place of finding new and engaging employment.
Take advantage of this section of the workforce; as digital natives, millennial field service technicians will not only expect the automation of certain field service tasks, but will also be able to help integrate this technology throughout your organization. Utilize peer learning, with younger employees teaching older employees exactly how to use automated features in place of manual methods.
The future is proactive, not reactive
The proactivity versus reactivity challenge in field service covers a lot of ground. Social collaboration between technicians on the ground, instant scheduling, and real-time work order management are to name but a few of the initiatives that organizations can take on in the name of using automation to be more proactive.
Field service automation is one of the most important drivers of proactiveness in the field service industry. Predictive analytics, one of the main facets of field service proactivity, rely in part on the data from some automated functions to be able to make those predictions.
The combination of both can help field service organizations to:
- Collect performance data through connected devices
- Take into account historical data and patterns (e.g. customer behavior, traffic)
- Capture job completion information and make optimized future predictions.
Instead of relying on the ‘run-to-failure’ concept, proactive actions in field service are geared towards preventative and protective techniques—organizations predict faults and problems before they occur. Automation features, such as access to real-time in-field information such as equipment history, can help inform in-depth analytics, so that field service managers can enhance equipment uptime.
If your organization isn’t attempting to predict and identify problems before they happen, expect to experience more equipment downtime, and a higher level of service calls. Utilize field service automation features, such as reporting and dashboards, to identify patterns that you can use to inform future decision-making.
The future also looks like zero touch automation
The industry is moving towards moving towards zero touch automation: a scenario whereby all back-office functions are completely automated, driven by machine learning and, you guessed it, predictive analytics. Gartner says that, “Supply chain leaders responsible for customer fulfilment struggle to reduce order management costs…while providing more value-added services to customers”, which zero-touch initiatives can address (content available to clients).
However, there will always remain a need for the human touch. Zero touch automation will strive when dealing with routine-based actions, but will fall back to the people when problems occur that can only be taken care of by humans.
In order to prepare for the eventuality of zero touch automation, you’ll first have to get on board with field service automation as we know it now. However, to prepare further, you’ll need to track your data more closely than ever before, including:
- Fix rates
- Customer demographics
- Job duration.
Another step in preparing for zero touch automation is making sure that your entire workforce knows what this level of automation means in terms of their everyday responsibilities.
If zero touch automation is likely to take over a large portion of someone’s usual tasks, make sure that they have other responsibilities to take on. Additionally, ensure your employees know that this technology is not meant to replace them, but make their work life easier by reducing their time spent completing time-consuming tasks.
Are you ready for field service automation?
Field service automation can drive efficiency in your organization (remember, 53 percent of leaders are making optimizing efficiency a priority) by enabling your technicians and your back office staff to be more productive. With instant access to key data, such as job history, customer information, and equipment data, employees can boost your customer service delivery.
Noting the trends above, field service automation is inescapable. Here are some things you can do to prepare:
- Check out GetApp’s extensive catalog of field service management software
- Read this infographic to see what other trends are impacting the field service industry: [INFOGRAPHIC] Crowd servicing, soft skills, and drones: how will field service trends alter the industry landscape by 2021?