Jobs aren’t just being lost in the United States because they are going to other countries. Many of them are being lost to automation. Machines are doing the work of humans, which reduces expenses in payroll, and has had drastic affects on some industries. Automation has also had a large effect on field service management and, depending who you are, you might be experiencing it differently. Field service automation has definitely caused job losses, as machines are doing the work of humans. However, automation has also been the reason the field service management space has grown significantly.
From customer service to actual repairs, automation has taken hold of the field service management market. Jobs that used to be done by multiple people are now being replaced by field service automation tactics. Considering the margins on field service work continue to shrink, competition is getting more competitive and more businesses are entering the field, automation is a way to change the flow of revenues.
And unfortunately, it is coming at the expense of some jobs, especially in the back-end and head offices of field service organizations. Field service automation is reducing the number of people it takes to do back-office work, and in return, allowing the hiring focus to be on skilled technicians. It does come at the expense of some jobs, but experts will agree, field service automation is here, and it is the wave of the future. With new automated technology coming to the field service management space, the opinion is clear that automation is a must-have for anyone running a field service operation.
Customer Service Affected by Field Service Automation
The days of the large call center are gone. With the focus of many field service management teams being on customer experience, many organizations are doing away with their call centers and replacing with automated tools. No longer are customers sitting on hold, waiting for a customer service representative to pick up the phone. This has been replaced by many different automation tools that initiate service. From a phone perspective, customers can use directories to request service without having to speak to someone on the phone.
Customer portals are also another field service automation tool that has caused the loss of jobs in the back office. Customers can now just log in to their own portal, request service, and get work orders created automatically. No longer do you need someone on the phone taking down information when the customer can input the information themselves. Some would say this removed the human aspect of field service management, however, it gives control to customers. They don’t have to wait on the phone to request service when a portal is easy to log into and submit requests.
Other field service automation tools that have been added for the customer include QR codes, where a customer can scan a bar code for a specific service request. E-mail addresses have been set up for particular service requests as well, chatbots are being used on websites, and phone systems have been changed. It has cost jobs in the office, as call center teams have been reduced due to a lack of calls coming in. But customer service levels have risen, and it’s allowed field service management teams to focus on the field service more.
Field Service Automation Aiding Work Order Management
Another area field service automation is helping in is work order management. With many field service organizations turning to field service software, their work orders have drastically changed. Gone are the paper-based work orders, which are now replaced by electronic versions. Processing work orders, both before and after a call, takes time, however, field service automation is helping to reduce the time and number of people that it takes.
As noted before, different methods of requesting service from customers is now automating work order creation. A customer can send an email, login to a portal, or using a dialing system to get a work order created for service. This reduces the amount of people needed to create work orders, either in call centers or head offices.
Field service automation also helps to ensure that preventative maintenance contracts are never missed. Contract schedules are input into the field service software and automatically generate work orders when service is due. With parts, checklists and other attachments like manuals added, it’s a quick way to make sure no contract call is missed. That again improves the customer experience and puts trust and loyalty into your organization.
Work orders being returned also need less processing due to field service automation. With integrations to CRM, ERP and accounting software, calculations for labor hours and expenses are being completed by automation. There isn’t a need for anyone to go through the work order and process the call, as upon the technician’s field service mobile app syncing with the head office, invoices can be generated immediately between the field service software and the accounting software. This speeds up billing times, increases accuracy in billing, and gets the invoices in the hands of your customer quickly.
Internet of Things Automation Changing Field Service Management
Internet of Things (IoT) sensor technology has been a game changer in the field service management space. It’s automation that is changing how service is being completed. It’s removing the need for customers to request service and instead, through self-diagnoses, having the request added automatically. IoT is changing field service management’s perception of field service work. It’s replacing preventative maintenance with predictive maintenance. It allows for monitoring of equipment and, when they aren’t acting within the required thresholds, a service request is placed.
This means equipment uptimes increase and repair costs are reduced, as service is requested when issues are about to happen as opposed to when they already have happened. This level of field service automation is allowing organizations to rethink how they will deliver service to their customers. Computers make the decisions and recognize problems instead of requiring a technician to be on-site to diagnose an issue. While IoT is still in its infant stage in the field service automation space, it has the potential to be a game-changer for field service software users.
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