The past year in field service saw some megatrends come to the forefront in the industry. Field service automation has helped make field service delivery more efficient, Internet of Things (IoT) has made the service world more connected, and field service dispatch software is improving the customer experience by getting technicians where they need to be faster.
It’s been an incredible year with plenty of advancements, but any leader in the field service industry already has their sights set on the new year. What is in store for 2019 for field service, field service software and innovative technology for the field?
What is clear heading into 2019 is that it’s going to be all about the customer. That shouldn’t be a complete shock, as customer service is key to any good service organization. But providing a great experience to customers is the common theme across every new trend heading into the New Year. Field service organizations are more in touch with their customer’s needs and demands and are making as many changes as they can to give them a better experience.
So, let’s look at what is the best field service software trends heading into 2019 and where the industry is heading as the calendar changes.
The Move Towards a Liquid Workforce
It today’s field service environment, technicians can just have one single skillset. They must be flexible, or in this case, liquid. They must be able to adjust to changes in their environment and to take on multiple jobs. It’s not enough anymore to be good at just one thing, technicians need to be good at many things. With competition rising in the field service space, technicians are needing multiple skillsets so that they can be schedule for a variety of different calls.
That makes the dispatchers job easier, especially when using field service dispatch software and having to schedule resources for jobs. Using skillset searches, they can narrow down the technicians that can handle different kinds of calls. Having a liquid workforce, however, means more technicians are available in the pool when those searches are conducted. This means that dispatch can be completed quickly, and a technician can be on site to fix the problem faster than if the pool was small, due to only single skillset technicians being booked.
In a world where taking more service calls is key to revenue growth, you can’t have technician with stone skillsets sitting idle. They need to be in the game, ready to be dispatched at a moment’s notice, regard of the call that comes into the office.
Crowdsourcing Field Service Work to Subcontractors
Going hand in hand with a liquid workforce is the change to a crowdsourced workforce. More field service organizations are looking at subcontractors and third-parties to complete jobs. That’s because, they can offer services their in-house technicians don’t have the skills for, but still assure the job is completed. According to a Morgan Stanley report, freelance workers may represent nearly 50 percent of the working population within ten years. It’s a cost-effective way to get the skillset you need in your office, without hiring full-time employees.
Using field service dispatch software makes it simple to:
- on-board subcontractors
- get quotes from them
- submit work orders to crowdsourcing websites
- collect data and work orders
- produce invoices and payment vouchers
All of this is done from within one system, a field service software with subcontractor management tools. It is also allowing field service organizations to expand into new territories without setting up new offices and warehouses, offer additional services they didn’t previous offer, and find quality workers when work orders are piling up faster than technicians can complete them.
Hybrid Inventory Management
Inventory is one of the most challenging and costly parts of a field service operation. How many stock should be kept on hand always? Should technicians have it in their trucks? What parts do they need each day? How do you keep track of it all?
It’s why in 2019 many field service organizations are going towards a hybrid inventory management system where they either have zero inventory and equipment technicians with the most common parts they need. That requires inventory tracking and a requisition system for fast ordering of parts.
Field service management software’s integrations with CRM systems, such as NetSuite and Microsoft GP give real-time inventory numbers down to the technician truck. As parts are consumed on a work order, they are removed from the inventory. This allows managers to make proper decisions on purchasing and not buying products when they aren’t needed. This can be an expensive practice to keep technicians fully stocked, so with inventory controls, they get more data into actual stock numbers.
The New Reality of Field Service
IoT took off in 2018, so where is field service heading in 2019? A different reality. That is, virtual and augmented reality to be exact. Field service organizations are now seeing the value of virtual reality and augmented reality to assist their technicians in the field. AR and VR applications are being designed that will boost technician’s toolsets in 2019. AR applications will be able to give technicians an overlay of machines in the field and assist in repairs, guiding them through the step by step process of the repair. Even customers can wear this devices and work through their own repairs.
Virtual reality is also offering new ways to train technicians before they get into the field. As the focus today is on the customer experience, technicians are being hired on their customer service skills, more so than their technical skills. To make up for their lack of wrench skills, VR is being used to train technicians on how to do repairs, simulating the experience they will have.
The Focus is all on the Customer
As mentioned in the beginning, the focus for every new trend in 2019 will be on the customer. First-time fix rates are becoming a major focus, as field service organizations are finding any way they can to raise that number. Anything beyond one appointment is now becoming unacceptable, as customers want solutions immediately, or they will look elsewhere. Field service software offers plenty of ways to help in boosting those rates and take these growing trends and turn them into active parts of your organization.
If you’re heading into 2019 and not thinking of how you can better serve your customers, you may have to rethink your strategy. Helping your customers doesn’t mean creating more work for yourself. It just means you need to find solutions to better your organization and your service delivery. Field service dispatch software will assist in preparing your organization to offer efficient and effective service. With a focus on the customer, and back by a field service software, make 2019 a profitable year, and a year your customers won’t forget.