We are in the midst of the age of Big Data. Machines produce numbers and statistics en masse that must be captured, analyzed, and stored in such a way that they can be easily shared. This is especially important for field service technicians who rely heavily on this kind of machine data to perform their tasks.
However, they not only need ready access to the Big Data provided by machines and devices in need of repair. They also need the corresponding customer data in order to provide the best possible service as quickly as possible. And they require all of this data while on site.
That is why top corporate performers turned to mobile solutions, outfitting their field service technicians with mobile tools and ensuring them access to this valuable data.[i] However, having a mobile solution is only the beginning. In fact, it is exactly this mobile approach that makes it possible to implement many of the necessary tools and measures for ensuring first-time-fix rates. Here is a checklist of what every company needs to accomplish to improve the field service visit:
1. Predictive maintenance
The Internet of Things (IoT) has made it possible for networked devices to communicate with the network and with each other. This means that machines equipped with sensors are able to transmit signals to connected devices. These signals can indicate if a machine is in need of maintenance or will be in the near future. With this kind of information, service technicians can not only preemptively tackle issues, they know precisely what problems they need to address before they are on site. That means they can arrive with the right tools, parts and expertise.
2. Work order management system
Having a work order management system in place is the best way to guarantee that field service technicians always have the necessary replacement parts and equipment they need to carry out any repairs. With the capacity to update inventory in real-time and the potential to reserve necessary parts, service technicians are sure to always have what they need available.
3. Artificial and virtual reality assistance
The use of mobile devices also makes it possible to install artificial/virtual assistance tools that service technicians can refer to if they are unsure about how to proceed with a particular issue. Best-in-class companies have already started introducing this technology and are 72% more likely to offer their field service technicians access to remote knowledge and expertise.[ii] One method is to provide checklists for specific procedures that a service technician can check off while performing the service. Another tactic is to include video tutorials and manuals with in depth explanations of how to solve common issues. Finally, when all options have been exhausted, field service technicians can use augmented reality to provide a glimpse of the problem to an offsite specialist who can advise on how best to proceed. The on site service technician can even convene with an offsite expert in a virtual space to discuss possible solutions.
4. Skilled service technicians with proper training
According to customer complaints, the primary reason for customer dissatisfaction is the need for repeat visits because a service technician could not resolve an issue during the first visit.[iii] A service technician with the right skills and expertise is more likely to think outside of the box when it comes to finding the solution. Part of proper training also involves knowing how to take advantage of available resources, like the AR/VR assistance solutions. By empowering service technicians with the skills and the tools they need to complete their tasks, they are more likely to continue striving for a solution until they have resolved the issue.
It is no longer sufficient to simply provide field services. Customers are looking for efficiency, accuracy, and real-time service. Taking these steps towards optimizing your field services will ensure a greater rate of first-time-fixes and loyal, happy customers.
[i] Aberdeen Group, The Mobile Technician: The Evolution of the Connection in 2015, July 2015
[ii] Aberdeen Group, The Mobile Technician: The Evolution of the Connection in 2015, July 2015
[iii] Aberdeen group: First-Time Fix: A Metric That Drives Success, March 2016