The field service industry is growing with each passing day. As much as the demand is increasing, the challenges are growing simultaneously. While the industry leaders are grappling with attracting and retaining top talents amid a rapidly shrinking talent pool and managing complex assets, small and medium-sized businesses are more concerned with expanding service requirements, reducing operational costs, and delivering services with the help of a large pool of underskilled workforces. The biggest challenge in field service management, however, is promptness. It all depends on how quickly you respond to your customers, assign and dispatch technicians, and finally, get the job done.
The key to overcoming these challenges is automation. With the advent of modern technology, the traditional method of doing business has undergone a paradigmatic shift in the last few decades. From Ford’s assembly line to the latest augmented and virtual reality, the world has surely come a long way. Field service, as anyone would expect, is not beyond the scope of this fascinating digital transformation either. Not only is it making use of these innovative technologies, but technology has an important part to play in the core function of the industry as well.
Essentially, organizations that deliver field service have teams in the field, i.e. outside of the office to manage workflows. This is integral to ensuring the quality of service delivery, for the task needs a high level of coordination, an efficient scheduling and dispatching system, and most importantly, fast response time. It is true that a manual paper-based system can do the job. But the efficiency and effectiveness automation brings to the process makes all the difference in this age of cutthroat market competition. This is why automation has become the driving force in the transformation of the service industry.
What is Field Service Automation?
Field service automation is, in simple words, using technology to manage the collective processes of field service management. It involves all the procedures, strategies, and planning that service organizations use to manage their resources. The automation part, more specifically, refers to the digital tools and technologies used to standardize and streamline those processes, procedures, and the rest. For example, a field service organization needs to assign a technician to confirm a job order and notify the personnel accordingly to get the work done. Now, if you are using the traditional pen-and-paper method, you will be entering the job details manually into a register (or an excel sheet) and calling your technician to inform them or wait till they get back in the office. Now, this is a time-consuming process that also leaves room for error and mismanagement. But using field service scheduling software, you can do the job within seconds. Moreover, you can automatically pair the right technician with the right skill sets for the job, thus ensuring the best service quality.
How Can Automation Help Field Service?
For service delivery companies, there are numerous benefits if they choose to embrace automation. The outcome, in almost all cases, is increased productivity, enhanced performance, faster response time, improved customer service, and in turn, more profit. The major advantages of automation in the service industry could be identified as the following:
Paperless Business Processes
Small companies may find using the traditional paper-based methods comfortable to run their business operations. However, it involves high risks or mismanagement, manual error, and risks. Moreover, when the company starts expanding, managing the processes using the pen, paper, and excel sheets will eventually become more complex, and thereby impossible. However, with paperless business solutions, the operations could be managed in a more efficient and organized manner. All data will be stored, sorted, and processed in an easily accessible, indexable archive, where you will; never have to worry about manually filing them or misplacing them under a pile of paperwork. Most importantly, you can share valuable information with your field technicians with just a click of a button, without them having to physically visit the office.
The biggest advantage of field service automation is systematic, efficient technician scheduling and dispatching. By switching to field service management software, managers can have complete visibility and access to technicians’ schedules, and therefore, assign job orders and update schedules in a matter of seconds.
Streamlining and standardizing business processes with the help of automation could play an instrumental role in increasing employee productivity in a service organization. Thanks to smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices, technicians can stay easily connected with the office no matter where they are. As a result, they can promptly respond to job orders, be notified of upcoming appointments, access customer information, share job details and proof of work progress, and even generate invoices from the field. This leads to better performance, improved service quality, as well as increased first-time fix rates. Moreover, managers and business owners can also track their location in real-time, thanks to the field management apps.
In the post-pandemic era, the significance of automation in field service has become monumental. When organizations are looking for innovative ways to safeguard both their technicians’ and customers’ wellbeing, remote collaboration has become a necessity for companies all over the world. Besides, the current technologies are reshaping the service delivery landscape to help the industry achieve major goals, including cost reduction, improving performance, personalizing service, and promoting safety. And in all of these, automation plays a pivotal role.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the lockdown and physical distancing protocols created some major challenges in home or site visits for field technicians. But unlike many other services, physical presence is unavoidable for field services. But while doing the job, companies needed to make sure that technicians maintain the utmost caution to ensure both their and the customers’ safety. This is why they had to come up with creative solutions to minimize physical contact and embrace remote collaboration during the new normal. What was once a fancy item for most service delivery companies, remote assistance technology almost became a necessity. And this has necessitated automation in almost across the entire service industry.
Even now, when the protocols are lifted and the restrictions are relaxed, the service sector is facing a new challenge. The lockdown has brought in unique changes in customer behavior. Instead of going out and buying things for themselves, people have become more comfortable with getting their needs delivered to their doorsteps. They now expect to find everything they need within that 6” screen of their smartphone, something they can send a text or click an option to avail.
If field service wants to grab this market opportunity, they need to embrace automation. Instead of relying on phone calls and home visits, they are to invest in field service software solutions that connect them directly with their customers. This powerful technology enables companies to create estimates, send and track them, schedule technicians, notify customers, share work order updates and proofs, generate invoices, collect digital signatures, as well as receive payment in the field among several other things.
With the advent of modern technology, the world as we know is transforming at a surprising pace. Along with it, our day-to-day lives are changing dramatically as well. This includes business operations across all sectors. For field service especially, this is an interesting turn. If an organization wants to sustain in the competition, automation is inevitable for them. It has become the most significant competitive advantage in today’s age.
If you want to make more profit, expand your business, and stay relevant in the industry, you will eventually have to automate your processes with field service management apps and software solutions. It will reduce your workload significantly, cut down operational costs, prevent human errors, and save valuable time by speeding up response time. In short, if you want to compete at the next level, automation will be your biggest weapon. And now is the time to make the shift. Or else, you will be lagging behind while your competitors move ahead.