Life on the road is part of the job description for many field service technicians around the world.
As highly trained experts in their profession, field service agents are responsible for traveling to remote locations to provide installation, repair, or maintenance services for equipment or systems. In a single day, a field service engineer or mechanic is required to assess and resolve every service issue, engage with customers face-to-face, update work orders, and check–in with supervisors as needed. Unlike a traditional desk job, they are required to juggle customer service and support while working remotely.
Remote work can be demanding without the right equipment and technology to stay connected. In today’s digital age, most companies supply their field service technicians with the proper devices, like laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Unfortunately, you need to go a step further by providing the apps and software required to manage time, resolve work orders, and stay connected from anywhere.
Learning Opportunity: Managing field service workers in the public sector? There are additional requirements to consider.
In this blog post, we are going to discuss what those technical requirements are and how to integrate more digital best practices in the field services industry.
Technical Requirements for Remote Field Workers
The field service landscape has traditionally applied to industries like utilities, manufacturing, or telecom – where machines are required by an organization to function. Field services have continued to evolve over the years and now encompass more lines of work and new challenges.
Whether they are called in to install a dishwasher or repair a multimillion-dollar essential medical device, field service agents need to be able to understand the background of the product and customer, identify and resolve the issues, prepare and submit work orders, collaborate with the technical team, and provide a positive customer experience. To be able to accomplish all of these duties effectively, here is what a remote field service technician needs:
- Real-time access to secure data, including customer information, product information, warranties, maintenance plans, etc.
- Easy work order management, time tracking, and expense submission app or portal
- Optimized route and schedule planning
- A quick way to collect customer and product data from on-site
- Notifications of changes or updates to the schedule
Field Service Technology
Like it or not, field service is the face of your company. Field service technologies are leveraging analytics to manage dispatching, optimize scheduling, complete work orders, and so much more. To optimize efficiency and responsiveness, many successful organizations in the field service industry have invested in three major areas of emerging technology: enterprise mobility, machine learning/AI, and IoT. Here’s how:
- Enterprise Mobility
Mobility is crucial to field service success for data collection, coordination, communication, and adapting to change. By providing quick access to data through mobile apps, field service technicians can view and capture information, from parts requests to expense tracking, instantly from anywhere. Field service mobile apps are also typically designed to send instant notifications of job updates, provide GPS navigation for route optimization, and integrate with CRM systems.
- Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Field service companies have started investing considerable resources in cognitive technologies like machine learning and AI for dynamic scheduling, resource optimization, and cost savings. Consider these two stats from Gartner:
- 10% of emergency field service work will be triaged and scheduled by intelligent scheduling tools by 2020
- By 2022, one-third of complex field service organizations will utilize machine learning to predict work duration and/or parts requirements, up from less than 2% today
Cognitive technologies can also be put to good use towards customer service and improving the customer experience. Specific AI applications in customer service can be used for case management and workflow or Natural Language Processes (NLP) technology such as chatbots.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
Another successful technology being adopted by field service organizations is predictive analytics. Predictive field service uses IoT joined together with AI, ML, and data science to improve schedule accuracy, predict when equipment should be serviced or replaced, and deliver better service to customers.
Connect Your Field Service Agents with Microsoft Dynamics 365
At OnActuate, our experience working with global field service organizations is unrivaled. We are proud to recommend Dynamics 365 for Field Service, in addition to our own mobile business app designed for Dynamics 365, the OnActuate Field Force Manager.
Dynamics 365 for Field Service is a solution that has helped improve field service operations for clients of all complexities and sizes. With Dynamics 365 and our expertise and resources, we can transform your field service operations and have you up and running on a fully optimized solution in days. For more information, head to our Field Service page or get in direct contact with one of our field service specialists.