Lesson Learned: How Field Service Management Transformed Post-COVID 19 Pandemic
2020 seems like a distant nightmare now. The global lockdown and the looming threats of Coronavirus brought life to a standstill. And thanks to the indomitable human spirit, we have strived to tide over the crisis. The threat, however, is not over yet. But we have learned from the past and are gearing up to tackle any future disaster head-on. While the COVID-19 pandemic was disrupting all aspects of the value chain, perhaps the most severe impacts have been felt in field service delivery. Travel and on-site access have been limited, and customers were minimizing service overhead. Meanwhile, senior experts within field service management organizations who were best equipped to deal with these challenges were also facing the greatest healthcare risks.
Like any other walk of life, the start of 2020 saw the field service industry poised for a drastic change in the way they operate – everything from improving on-field customer service capabilities to uncovering new advancements in AI and predictive analytics. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 has introduced new threats and barriers to the field service community, as well as shifting priorities that were not there one month ago. Innumerable companies were forced to shut down or exhorted to put their field services on hold. They were asked to either look for new ways of doing business or close with no hope. AS a preventive measure, most organizations quickly adopted the technological way of doing business while completing their field service tasks. The technical way with the promising tools in the market allowed them to look beyond possibilities and imagined the newer generation of a business era.
In light of the drastic changes and the emerging technologies that helped field service companies to stay afloat, let us take a deeper look into what the global pandemic has taught the field service industry, and how the organizations are leveraging the legacy to their advantage. Simply put, let us dive deeper into the changing trends of field service delivery that the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in.
Table of Contents
1. The Rising Demand for Self-Service
Before COVID-19, self-service has never been in such demand. It’s not that we don’t want technicians to come and help us on-site. There’s more to the story. Social distancing and self-isolation pushed the industry into making certain changes. While in some cases, people were forced to restrict physical interaction, some avoided one-to-one meetings by choice due to health concerns. Therefore, the field service companies had to come up with options where customers can contact them through digital media. Be it their company website or social media. Those who could not afford to build their own website leveraged field service management software. These innovative digital tools provide self-service portals where customers can ask for estimates, request service, share images to describe the issue, and receive invoices without having to make any physical contact.
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With the rapid growth in the popularity of delivery services during the global lockdown, customers are now getting used to having quick responses when ordering groceries or booking a doctor’s teleconsultation. Taking things further, even when the restrictions were lifted, 2020 pushed several industries to incorporate added convenience to their customer experience. From booking a cab to changing internet tariff plans, people now expect to get things delivered with a click on their smartphone. At the same time, 2020 saw a decrease in the importance of call center agents/ dispatchers, providing direct communication between the service ordering party and the executor. Naturally, service delivery businesses had to adapt to that trend as well. Customers and technicians want to see the result of inquiries within seconds. Modern FSM platforms can respond rapidly to service demands requested by customers through a web portal or a dedicated mobile app, and assign technicians in real-time.
3. Remote Assistance
Since last year, we have experienced numerous examples of remote or contact-free services where the importance of assisting or completing services became a new normal. An increasing number of service delivery businesses are experimenting or adopting remote services with technology that enables real-time support or collaboration between field technicians and back-office support. Software for field service has taken a central role in this regard. This innovative digital tool automates and streamlines business processes.
Furthermore, the field technicians use advanced technologies such as AR (augmented reality) or Holo-lenses, which allows the technician to easily complete complex tasks with in-depth supervision and real-time service support. Internet of Things and other connectivity solutions also cover the path to revolutionizing service management processes and making them more proactive. This helps businesses to quickly react to the problems and monitor the state of the device. It ensures consistent operations by predicting, detecting, and resolving service issues before your customers even know about them. Sometimes it resolves the problems itself without dispatching the technician, thus reducing contact and maintenance costs. This results in not only happier clients but also simpler fixes rather than large-scale repairs.
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4. Remote Collaboration and Training
Before the pandemic, every new team member was onboarded by an expert, guided by hand during their first assignments. However, the COVID-19 pandemic changed many social relations and practical knowledge sharing. These days, the onboarding process is often limited to video chats. This is a huge problem right now – as experts, usually being in a high health risk group, work from home or alone in their offices. Organizations cannot take the risk of exposing them to threats such as COVID-19. Modern FSM tools have a solution for that situation, called assisted video calling, where the expert keeps their eyes on a junior worker’s hands via a smartphone camera. It is still not quite as effective as traditional, in-person onboarding, but that’s an acceptable trade-off for keeping the experts safe.
To Sum Up
All in all, while 2020 did not bring much innovation to the field service management market, it did accelerate the adoption of some new ways of working. Looking for positive aspects, we can definitely say that 2020 boosted our flexibility, and now organizations are about to transform much faster than before. The biggest change we saw in 2020 was connected with reprogramming the priorities of field service tools and features – placing the most crucial ones in the front line and moving on from the obsolete. Even though key field service stakeholders and contributors have not reinvented much, the industry has focused on capabilities that really matter.
Having said that, the field service industry has a lot of room to grow and many opportunities to thrive in the next few years. There are various tools and techniques available to enhance field service with agility and automation – one of the technologies or platforms that embrace the efficiency of field service is Field Promax field service software. The platform provides resource optimization with advanced scheduling and mobile enablement capabilities, strengthening organizations’ service capabilities by keeping the customer at the center of the business.