Imagine you’re working for a hospital imaging department that relies on having x-ray and MRI machinery up and running at all times to diagnose patients. Now imagine one of those imaging machines goes down. You call the manufacturer, and a tech arrives soon after. The tech is equipped with not only physical tools, but a tablet that allows him to have all the information about your particular machine on hand, even though there’s no wifi available on the imaging floor. The tech has great manners, talks you through the problem, and gives you a report that explains what he’s done in detail immediately after he’s finished with his service. That evening, you get home and hop on Facebook to tell all of your other healthcare colleagues what great service you received from the tech and his company.
Field service work has evolved, and technicians aren’t just techs anymore. They play many more roles within field service businesses from sales to customer service. A report by Aberdeen explains their changing responsibilities and how to ensure they’re the best they can be.
Changing Field Service Tech and Customer Relations
Customers are using technology to share experiences with companies and workers with the public, and therefore they have a strong influence on businesses in a way that they didn’t have before. Because of this, according to an Aberdeen Group research report “Evolution of the Service Hero: Deliver Value Customers Demand” (June 2015), 63% of organizations are focusing on the field to deliver value.
To reach a high level of customer satisfaction, field service techs must have the tools, information, and skills to resolve problems. They need to know and understand the customer’s needs and put those first when fixing machines and cross-selling products. Furthermore, the communication between a tech and a customer can provide valuable insight into what a customer wants or trends that are happening in the market.
Customers should view field service engineers as friends that are experts, rather than just someone coming to do a service job. So organizations are starting to provide customers with other options such as crowd sourced service, so that customers get to choose from the types of service they prefer.
The Need for Technology to Empower Techs
While aging field service workers might shy away from technology, potential Millennial techs prefer technology, if they’re going to do field service. Field service companies that are not yet using field service software to help techs stay empowered in the field with real-time data, they run the risk of not attracting new, young workers to their organizations.
Recently, the airline Easyjet announced that its engineers will be outfitted with wearable uniforms that are equipped with LED lights so they can do hands-free maintenance and inspections of airplanes. These wearable uniforms will also have air quality sensors, and cameras for remote diagnostics. On top of that, the clothing was also designed to give engineers better visibility in low light or foggy weather conditions.
Aside from providing engineers with wearables, servitization is becoming a bigger part of many company’s field service strategies. Techs should have the information they need to complete whatever tasks the customer requests, such as training, consulting, or installation. This is why many companies are now switching from paper-based systems to field service automation, so that no matter where techs have to work they can have access to historical data and customer information whether or not they are online.
Alstom, a power plant manufacturer that was recently bought by GE, switched to field service software so that their techs could be safer when servicing electrical equipment and to avoid affecting the operation of the plant. They have all the file attachments, manuals, and dynamic checklists they need available offline on their iPads. And even though they are working offline, once they are back online the data they collect in the field is synced via the cloud with their ERP system. Their large workforce of well-equipped service technicians makes Alstom one of the biggest and best manufacturing companies in the world.
Avoiding Knowledge Drain
Great field service organizations collect customer insights and data during customer interactions so that the information can be used to make the business more efficient. The best companies attract new service workers, retain them, and train them using technology that gives them a database of information on customers at their fingertips.
Though it’s especially useful for field service techs, field service software and mobile workforce management should work for everyone within a company, from back office workers to the techs on the front line in the field. In order for field service techs to do their jobs well and satisfy customers, everyone on the team needs to be on board and connected to help them provide great service.
Making sure that collaboration is high within your organization will not only help with training new field service techs, but also retaining your existing techs and ensuring that your business runs as efficiently as possible.
Some companies like Verizon Enterprise Solutions and medical manufacturer, Elekta, are enabling experienced field service workers to share their knowledge with new techs via automated knowledge management solutions including video platforms and virtual reality.
When field service techs head out to a job, they want to save the day and be the hero that fixes the machine and gets it back up and running right on time. Superheroes always have the latest gadgets, training, and equipment to do their jobs. Likewise, field service techs need to be equipped with the technology and tools to do their jobs well when they come to the rescue of your customers.