In a mid-pandemic field service environment, plenty of solutions have arisen on the fly. From hybrid operations to revamped safety protocols, it seems like things are in flux.
Field service has permanently changed—perhaps more dynamically than any other business function. The pandemic has reinforced the importance of customer service by understanding customers across every service and digital touchpoint to maximize loyalty and consumer value. This has become more complicated due to COVID; nevertheless, innovations in field service management can enhance customer loyalty amid increased expectations.
Our 2021 list of top field service trends spotlights what’s new and what’s next.
As in many other industries, field service is feeling a crisis in staffing and in a transition to a more hybrid, digitally connected world. This is also exacerbated by an increasing gap in experience and expertise as older workers retire or leave the field. Service organizations are embracing the gig economy and third-party service providers to supplement their in-house workforces.
This trend is creating a new challenge (and opportunity) for service leaders to capture knowledge and integrate it into the digital tools new or contract field service engineers rely on to be successful. Giving your digitally-savvy new team members on-demand support speeds their ability to contribute while offering senior engineers the ability to shift into less demanding remote support roles.
Much like our collective transition to virtual meetings and contactless delivery of goods throughout 2020, customers across the board are becoming accustomed to new models for service delivery. Field service solutions have been enhanced to ensure service visits meet local safety standards and customer preferences, while companies must seamlessly blend virtual and physical experiences.
Moreover, as customers' buying preferences shift toward outcomes over products, service is becoming a critical piece in the revenue model for businesses. Field service teams are being given tools and incentives to monetize service events, such as for-service contract renewals or cross-selling equipment or consumables.
If there were a broad theme to 2021 for field service management, it’s this. More than ever, the industry is counting on developing myriad touchpoints to increase engagement with customers.
With offerings including self-service portals, knowledgebase articles and media, AI-guided digital assistants, and remote service events, field service leaders are providing customers more immediate and touchless ways to resolve issues. This variety of customer touchpoints enable service team members to focus on the most critical customer issues.
Perhaps the most significant trend impacting field service is the proliferation of connected equipment and assets that can mitigate the need for in-person repair or maintenance.
IoT monitoring enables remote diagnostics and self-healing routines. And when integrated with your field service management solution, it can automatically trigger work orders and schedule service activities for major faults. When your field service engineer arrives, they can use this information to fix issues more quickly and accurately.
Amidst all this change is the critical task of moving forward without slowing down. All the tech tools in the world don’t drive and sustain change; change management is just as important as new tech rollouts. Organizations must make this culture of optimization and change something that sticks from the culture on down.
One of the biggest advancements is the connection between IoT and artificial intelligence (AI). Service businesses are now able to trigger services via AI without needing a human task to be that trigger. Leading-edge technology can help navigate change as conditions continue to fluctuate. Utilizing AI learning tools for routing and scheduling allows for changing conditions to overcome issues of manual discrepancies that happen without automation.
Successful companies can deliver on the set of new customer expectations by removing the friction from all digital and in-person touchpoints to provide seamless, informed interactions to customers. The transactional economy has become less hands-on and is likely to change while the pandemic continues to hold influence. Smart field service organizations can meet the change positively by making every engagement count—no matter how brief.
Oracle Field Service offers intuitive, AI-powered tools for routing, scheduling, and managing field service technicians. Learn more about how this solution makes it possible to deliver efficient and on-time service experiences every time with the quick self-guided product tour below.
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Rick Shimko is the Senior Product Marketing Manager for Oracle Field Service. He rejoined Oracle in November 2020 having previously worked for the company in 2015-16 after the acquisition of TOA Technologies (now Oracle Field Service). Prior to the acquisition, he led the global marketing operations and demand generation team for TOA, building a strong knowledge and appreciation of the field service industry and technology ecosystem that supports it. Rick resides in Cleveland, OH and has more than 15 years experience in B2B and SaaS software marketing across a diverse group of start-up, growth stage and enterprise companies.