Think for a moment about how things operate for many field service businesses today. They get word a piece of equipment is broken, a work order is likely created in some system, and someone prints out and hands a stack of paper to a field technician. If the technician is lucky enough to have printed instructions, they at least have a chance of reading the address, however, the technician is on his/her own to figure out the best way to get to the location. Once they arrive, they have no help in diagnosing the problem (they might even struggle with finding the piece of equipment that broke), and once they figure out the problem, there’s no assurance they’ll know how to fix it, or have the right resources to do the job well. They also have no idea of the past service history of this equipment.
Imagine the frustration these service technicians are feeling? Add to that the uber competitiveness of the job market; why would a tech stick around and suffer in the dark ages when they can go work for a modern workplace that provides tools to make their job better. We’re assuming you want your technicians to stay at your company, for that to happen, technicians need to feel and be empowered in their positions. We believe empowering those field technicians is the backbone of the industry transformation we are seeing. So, here are few insights as to what an empowered, successful field service technician looks like.
They are in the right place at the right time with the right tools thanks to modern field service software.
Technicians no longer must waste time figuring out where to go, understand what resources they need, and what previous data is needed for a job. Thanks to modern field service software, they have all that information at hand.
Empowered technicians can use their own mobile device, as well as their favorite mapping tool for turn by turn directions to the job site. They know the history of the equipment and the customer and can see trends and problem areas easily. They know the exact component that needs work, and how to perform that work, including supporting documentation or product specs/schematics, or 3D renderings.
They are in communication with the customer - thus increasing customer satisfaction.
Every technician knows the importance of customer communication. However, when trying to balance between ‘getting work done’, and administrative tasks, the latter often suffers. An empowered technician leverages intelligent software to communicate automatically with the customer at key points along the journey. For instance, the solution can remind the customer there is a tech scheduled that day. It can also send a message letting them know when the tech is on the way, and when they’ve arrived, minimizing any disruptions to the customer’s day.
They can use augmented reality to address the aging, experienced workforce.
The statistics on workforce challenges are scary, indicating that we are losing knowledgeable technicians at a rate faster than we can hire/train new ones. This results in an overall less knowledgeable workforce, which can contribute to poor customer experience, and lower first call resolution rates. We are starting to see organizations embrace augmented reality starts in the field service industry, as it can address both of those challenges.
As mobile technicians age, their desire and ability to get into and out of a truck all day and perform sometimes difficult manual labor in extreme conditions starts to wane. Imagine being able to extend your tenured employee’s career by allowing them to be the ‘in-office’ Remote Expert. They can sit in a cushy air-conditioned office and go home at 5 every night.
The benefit to the ‘newbies’ is obvious. Field Technicians have been relying on each other for help for decades. All techs have one or more ‘phone a friend’ contacts on their speed dial they call upon when they run into a new issue. Augmented Reality enhances that experience by sharing what the technician hears and sees with a remote expert, allowing you to remain hands free while you receive the help you need. This is accomplished with tools like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist with HoloLens devices, and now with Android mobile devices.
They are connected - and so are their devices.
Traditionally, when a technician is dispatched to fix an issue that was reported (customer noted a failure has occurred), that technician has little information about what caused the failure, or even where the failure was. With Connected Field Service software, these issues are mitigated, as real-time telemetry from the device can be viewed, providing the technician with vital clues as to what is happening with the equipment. The solution can also provide information around telemetry events that are out of normal ranges (i.e. high temperatures, excess vibrations or pressure).
Having connected/IoT devices significantly improves organization’s ability to respond in a less costly manner. Rather than sending a field technician, which costs time and money, in some cases, organizations can remotely resolve the issue before the customer even knows about it. By providing the ability to perform remote troubleshooting (send device commands to repair/reset), the system can repair the equipment remotely, without ever sending a technician.
So, does this sound like what your technicians experience on a daily basis? We encourage you to begin to evaluate if your technicians feel empowered or not, and if not, what can you implement from above? Contact one of our field service specialists to help you asses what your field service operations and technicians may need.
Author: Travis Pullen, Director of Field Service
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