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5 Essential Types of Field Service Visibility for Manufacturers

Guest Author

IDC Manufacturing
Insights analyst Heather Ashton, in a recent
blog post
, discussed how emerging technology – particularly enterprise
mobility – is helping manufacturing organizations meet rising customer
expectations for superior service. Just as in traditional business-to-consumer
scenarios, stellar customer service often hinges on the moment when a
manufacturing organization is engaging with customers face-to-face – during a
field service event.

“In the manufacturing sector, from high tech to industrial,
much of the focus to date has been on equipping the field service technicians
with the types of technologies…to enable faster, more precise, repairs that can
also leverage experts who may not be physically with the equipment in need of
repair,” says Ashton.

However, she also suggests that just having sophisticated
field service capabilities for enabling technicians in the moment is not enough
if you want to truly excel at customer service. “But, what about the other part
of customer satisfaction, namely visibility into the status of a scheduled
repair or site visit?”

Visibility into the status of a scheduled repair or site
visit – for all stakeholders involved – is absolutely a critical component of a
modern, customer-focused field service strategy. However, Oracle believes there
are actually five types of field service visibility you should seek out if you
want to be a customer service leader in the manufacturing sector (and drive
surprising efficiencies along the way!).

1. Parts and Inventory: At the most basic level, a field service management
solution should only assign work to a field service employee that has all the
necessary parts and equipment to perform the necessary repair. However, what
happens when the employee arrives on site only to find an unexpected scenario
requiring an entirely different set of parts? That field service representative
needs the ability to quickly determine the availability of the actual parts
required to perform the fix, and a means for ordering those parts and
scheduling a follow up visit if the part is not available at a nearby depot or
on a team member’s truck.

2. On-Demand Knowledge: Having access to knowledge and context about a customer
and their service history is important. But beyond an individual customer,
field service employees need context for how a particular problem has been
solved in the past, or how to troubleshoot when faced with a certain set of
circumstances. Even better: a field service management solution should be able
to understand which knowledge articles or manuals are most likely to be helpful
for a particular job type, and automatically make that knowledge available at
the exact moment it is needed.

3. Team: Dispatch teams can easily get visibility into the status
of field service employees. However, what about field service team leaders or
managers and dispatchers who spend their time away from the back office – out
in the field, in the action? Most solutions today enable peer-to-peer
collaboration between field service employees embedded directly in a mobile
application. However, these highly mobile supervisors need a tool that blends
the best of both worlds – offering dispatch-level, air traffic control views on
a mobile device but also the capability to communicate directly with employees
(in either a one-to-one or one-to-many style) to support tough jobs in progress
or reorganize the schedule as the day unfolds.

4. Scheduling: Whether it is a customer scheduling or changing an appointment via an
online, self-service portal or a contact center agent booking an appointment on
behalf of a customer, it is important to provide a precise commitment to all
parties. Gone are the days when it is acceptable to tell a customer someone
will call them 48-hours prior to the scheduled appointment – only to offer a
4-hour appointment window! Customers and agents can leverage the visibility
provided by data-driven field service solutions to schedule appointments much
like booking a flight online – choosing the exact day and time that’s
convenient for them and knowing the service will actually happen at that time.

5. Man/Machine Merge: The Internet of Things is rapidly becoming a standard
element of field service operations in the manufacturing sector. Machines that
self-diagnose or even predict future breakdowns drastically reduce
time-to-resolution. Most field service management systems can accept an alert
or work order generated by an asset, and dispatch the appropriate technician
with all the right parts to fix the issue. However, what happens when a person
also notices the problem, calls customer support and a separate work order is
issued or another appointment is scheduled for the exact same problem? This
dilemma highlights the need for manufacturing field service organizations to
have complete visibility into both machine and human-generated service requests
in a single view, and a process for removing duplicates from the system before
two field service experts show up to fix the same problem.

If you don’t already have a plan for achieving all five
types of visibility in your current field operations, it’s worth having a
conversation with your team about which types of visibility would help them
work more efficiently and deliver better customer service.

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