Monday Jun 29, 2015

The Top Tech Trends Impacting the Future of Field Service Management by Stephen Fioretti

Since the Oracle Service Cloud added field service management to its portfolio of customer experience solutions through the acquisition of TOA Technologies, the leader in cloud-based field service management solutions, I’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand how modern field service solutions have changed the way people think about this space. Over the past several years, field service management has transformed from being a cumbersome but necessary part of the business into a key way for businesses to drive value, increasing operational efficiencies and leveraging important face-to-face interactions with customers to improve their experience with an organization.

And what’s really exciting about this market is that it has the potential to continue transforming as new advancements and trends in the technology world make their way into the field service space. Advancements such as cloud services and trends like the Internet of Things are transforming the way organizations manage their field teams. Field service operations are becoming increasingly connected – field technicians have access to their peers, managers and critical information in real-time via mobile devices. Furthermore, machines are talking directly to field service teams as well as backend systems via machine-to-machine communication (M2M), speeding the identification of issues and ultimately problem resolution.

In a recent article that I authored for Field Technologies magazine, I discuss a few of the trends that will power transformation in the field service market. The article, titled “Creating the Super-Connected Field Service Ecosystem of the Future,” highlights some of the trends in technology that I believe will have the biggest impact of the future of field service. These include: 

  • Cloud services: While already having a significant impact on the field service space, cloud services will continue to drive important changes, removing silos and allowing systems to work together fluidly.
  • Internet of Things: What we call the “Internet of Smart Things” will become the norm. This will really accelerate field service because the IoST will allow field organizations to not only respond to issues faster, but it will allow them to respond smarter by identifying potential causes before a technician is dispatched.
  • Augmented reality: I am very excited to see where this trend takes the field service market. This is one trend that will significantly improve day-to-day field service work, especially when leveraged with wearables. Applied in field service, augmented reality could enable field service employees to overlay schematics across his field of vision via augmented reality-enabled glasses, so he can see exactly what needs to be done on the piece of equipment he is working on.

 

The Oracle Service Cloud team is excited to welcome a modern field service solution, Oracle Field Service Cloud, into our product family, and help our customers extend the customer service they provide all the way to the field. Now, Oracle Service Cloud customers can deliver a consistent, exceptional customer experience across all points of the service cycle – from web self service, to the contact center, to engagement via social channels and live chat and all the way to what is often a company’s only face-to-face interaction with their customers, a field service appointment.

And, as the field service space continues to evolve with the latest technology trends, organizations will be able to deliver an increasingly seamless and smarter customer experience,.

Learn more about the latest technology trends that are impacting the future of the field service industry in my recent article for Field Technologies magazine, and discover how Oracle Field Service Cloud can help your business power operational efficiencies and improve customer satisfaction. 

Wednesday Jun 17, 2015

What’s New with Oracle Field Service Cloud: May 2015 Release

With the acquisition of TOA Technologies in 2014, the Oracle Service Cloud added field service management to its solution portfolio. Formerly TOA’s ETAdirect, Oracle Field Service Cloud helps Oracle customers extend customer service excellence to the field while powering greater efficiencies.

As a part of the Oracle Service Cloud family, the Oracle Field Service Cloud team is excited to announce several new features in its latest release in May 2015. With a focus on integration, as well as improving both user and customer experience, new features included in the latest Oracle Field Service Cloud include:

Manage in Mobile – This mobile-friendly redesign of the Oracle Field Service Core Manage solution makes it easier for service managers and dispatchers to manage field teams from smartphones and tablets, helping customers keep pace with consumer trends. A resized display and improved scrolling and swipe functionality provide a consistent user experience across all devices.

Oracle Service Cloud Accelerator – Customers can now quickly and easily connect the call center to the field – leveraging the Oracle Field Service Cloud’s predictive routing and scheduling functionality directly within the Oracle Service Cloud Agent Desktop. Learn more about this Accelerator in this recent blog post by Stephen Fioretti, vice president of product management for Oracle Service Cloud.

Rebranding – The solution formerly known as TOA’s ETAdirect is now Oracle Field Service Cloud. Upon upgrading to version 15.5, all users will see refreshed login screens and Oracle branding – including the Oracle iconography and color palette – across the product. However, customers will still be able to customize with their own branding schemes if preferred.

Along with the features introduced in the February 2015 release, these new Oracle Field Service Cloud features aim to support the Oracle Service Cloud team’s focus on critical integrations and improving the user experience. Included in the February 2015 Oracle Field Service Cloud release were features such as routing visualization, multi-day view, mobile form editor and mobile booking capabilities.

Learn more about Oracle Field Service Cloud and its role in the Oracle Service Cloud family at http://www.oracle.com/goto/field-service/

Wednesday Jun 03, 2015

Applying a Retail Best Practice to Improve Field Service

While in college, I worked as a cashier at a local garden center. During the busy season, I would furiously scan, type and swipe, getting customers through the line and out the door as fast as humanly possible. But no matter how quickly I completed the transaction, my manager encouraged me to always ask one simple question: “Did you find everything you were looking for today?”

Asking that question may seem obvious, as the garden center wanted to add a few extra dollars to every sale. But this simple thing also contributed to a better overall experience for customers, whether they knew it or not.

Minimizing disruption to the customer as they make purchases and consume services is paramount to modern customer service.

At the garden center, taking the time to ensure the customer had everything they came for, and possibly a few things they didn’t consider, minimizes future disruption – aka the need to return for a forgotten item and wait in line again. We generally appreciate a relevant and friendly reminder for something we want or need at a retail store or online…

So why do we ever accept anything less for transactions that happen in our own homes?

Field service professionals travel to us in order to minimize the disruption of a transaction on our lives. (There are many accounts of disruption caused by long wait windows and no-show technicians; however this is a separate problem that can be solved with a predictive approach to field service management.)

I recently spoke with an HVAC professional to understand how mobile employees manage the flow of seasonal repairs and ongoing maintenance work. I expected his biggest challenges would be how to efficiently source and match parts and inventory to the appointments and execute within SLAs.

Wrong! In an interesting twist, what’s really needed is a process that could help remind the technician at the job site to do that little extra to make the customer happy and the business more profitable – much like the retail cashier’s “Did you find everything you were looking for today?”

What if HVAC technicians had the same sort of analytics-backed technology in hand that powers online shopping recommendations, offering a reminder to check the coolant levels on a customer’s air conditioning (AC) unit while on site? And then, made it simple to capture payment for that service? Or book a follow up appointment? This is the ultimate in minimizing disruption through more intelligent service.

“Did you find everything you were looking for today?” might be commonplace in retail sales, but it’s not yet a widespread practice among field service operations. Yet there is an opportunity to infuse this type of mindset into almost any field service organization.

For those interested in making the transition, here are some of the benefits:

1. Happier customers: Great customer service today means giving customers what they want with minimal disruption. The responsibility is on the technician to make sure that customer has everything she needs on the first visit, before he walks out the door.

2. Higher sales per transaction: Capture revenue before you lose the moment. I recently had a new dishwasher delivered and had forgotten to request the installation service along with it. I was willing to pay the fee, but the technician was not allowed to accommodate my request.

3. Consolidated efficiencies: Why roll two trucks, for separate appointments when the service representative on site can simply give the customer what she wants? Field service applications that provide real-time visibility for dispatchers and the ability to adjust job lengths as things change enable the flexibility to offer additional services in the home.

4. Seamless follow up: In the case where a follow up appointment is absolutely required, it’s no longer acceptable to put the burden of scheduling back on the customer. Instead, empower field service employees to book follow up visits – you may be returning a second time, but it will be at a time that’s convenient for the customer.

The field service technology is there – it can provide the context, information and technical capabilities. Now it’s up to you to design field service processes so you can give customers everything they want.

Wednesday May 27, 2015

Modern Field Service Improves Network Maintenance Work for Communications Providers (CSPs)

When it comes to customer-facing work, modern field service management solutions deliver proven benefits for communications providers. Here’s a look at how CSPs can power even greater results by applying the same field service management best practices to network maintenance field service operations.

As competition increases in the industry, many communications services providers (CSPs) turn to field service management technology to boost customer satisfaction and power efficiencies in order to differentiate their brand.

As a field service solutions provider, we’ve seen many CSPs significantly increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction ratings, and reduce operational costs by leveraging modern field service solutions in their customer-facing operations. Now, we’re seeing interest from CSPs in extending these benefits to the network maintenance operations.

Here’s how some of the best practices we’ve learned in working with CSPs in their customer-facing operations translate into the network maintenance side of their business.

    Automate, then optimize

    The days of manual processes and automation-only field service management are behind us, and CSPs are leading the way. Organizations are taking automation a step further – using modern field service tools with pattern recognition and predictive capabilities to optimize their processes.

    These solutions employ predictive analytics to optimize technician job assignment, scheduling and routing—taking into consideration individual technician skill sets, availability, location and service level agreement (SLA) terms. These capabilities allow CSPs to:

    • Boost workforce productivity with more jobs completed per day
    • Reduce operational costs, such as vehicle maintenance and fuel
    • Get the right technician, with required skills and parts, to each job faster and reduce mean time to repair (MTTR)

    As a result, customers are happier and CSPs can maintain compliance with SLAs while driving operational efficiencies. Automation alone can save time on planning and coordination; however, predictive field service optimization drives new levels of productivity and cost reduction.

    Put the customer first, and give them control

    It may sound simple, but a little can go a long way when it comes to your customers. Deploying a field service solution that gives all stakeholders – customers, call center representatives, service managers and field technicians – a real-time view of what’s going on in the field and leverages predictive analytics equips CSPs to:

    • Provide shorter appointment windows by accurately predicting when a technician will arrive and how long a job with take to complete
    • Ensure on-time technician arrivals every time
    • Communicate appointment status updates proactively

    In doing so, CSPs keep customers in the loop and reduce costs associated with inefficiencies, such as unnecessary trips to customers’ homes.

    The same idea can be applied to managing the field technicians doing network maintenance and repair. The visibility that modern field service tools provide can help CSPs:

    • Complete routine maintenance on-schedule to prevent downtime
    • Be transparent with customers when issues occur, providing accurate information about when the issue will be resolved

    This approach enables CSPs to positively impact the relationships they have with customers, even in a situation that is ordinarily perceived negatively – for example, being kept waiting for internet service to be restored, or a cable service outage to be resolved on game day.

    Empower your field resources

    Collective knowledge and the skills of the entire team are important resources for field service teams. Modern field service solutions with collaboration capabilities allow CSPs to empower their mobile workforce, enabling technicians to:

    • Easily connect with their peers to complete jobs the right way, the first time
    • Quickly identify nearby technicians and transfer work to an available tech when upcoming appointments are in jeopardy of missing their service windows

    Keeping the network up and running is a critical part of business for CSPs. Field service solutions with integrated mobile collaboration tools enable field technicians to:

    • Complete network maintenance jobs faster
    • Ensure work is done right the first time, improving uptime

    For example, if a technician arrives to a job and discovers a bigger problem that he’s not sure how to fix, he can connect to nearby technicians via the field service solution’s integrated collaboration tool. One of them might have the right skills to complete the repair work, which helps resolve the issue faster.

    CSPs have an opportunity to apply the same best practices learned from customer-facing work to their network-facing operations to drive additional benefits. With modern field service solutions, CSPs can amplify the efficiencies, customer satisfaction and cost-savings, and propel their business further to stay ahead of the competition.

    Want to learn more about our Oracle Field Service Cloud solution? Check out our Oracle Field Service Cloud Service for Communications data sheet or request a demo today!

    Tuesday Apr 28, 2015

    Rise of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Communication in Field Service Management by Sarah Sheehan

    Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication can help field service operations deliver smarter, more timely service. However, organizations must integrate M2M into their field service management strategy to realize the full potential of this growing phenomenon.
    [Read More]

    Friday Nov 07, 2014

    Will Campaigning Ever End? It Shouldn’t.

    Now that the U.S. midterm elections have passed, you have to feel good about getting a break from all the ads regardless of your political affiliation. That is, unless you live in a state with a run-off.[Read More]

    Friday Aug 08, 2014

    Does Your Customer Engagement Create an Ah Feeling?

    Companies that successfully engage customers all have one thing in common. They make it seem easy for the customer to get what they need. No one would argue that brands don’t want to leave customers with this “ah” feeling.

    [Read More]

    Thursday Jul 10, 2014

    What is Modern Customer Service?

    We've recently had the opportunity to sit down with some Customer Experience (CX) leaders to ask, "What is modern customer service?" The leaders also shared important criteria for delivering modern customer service to their customers. I hope you enjoy the insight from these interviews and feel free to share your thoughts.

    Make it easy for customers to engage
    Barry Lieberman is Chief Customer Care Officer at Q-See, a global leader in providing advanced surveillance solutions for homes and small businesses. In response to our topic question, Barry shared: "Modern customer service to me is offering service to the customer where they want to be serviced". Barry suggests being proactive and deliver consistent, outstanding service on every channel.
    [Read More]

    Tuesday Oct 22, 2013

    Understanding When Social Interactions Should Be Resolved in Another Channel

    Agents need to respond to customers’ social comments and questions quickly and in the right tone. But more importantly, they need to offer resolutions. Customers care most about how long it takes to find information rather than which channel they are using. [Read More]

    Wednesday Sep 04, 2013

    Getting Started with Social Customer Service

    Guest Blogger: Aphrodite Brinsmead, Senior Analyst at Ovum

    In my last blog I talked about the value of using social channels to support your customer service efforts.  Here I’ll talk about understanding the most relevant social media tools and how to handle queries and issues.

    [Read More]
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