For field service organizations, the service model has been steadily evolving over the last few years. Customers want faster, smarter service. They want service organizations to think differently and have intelligent strategies to respond to problems that then help clients achieve success. In addition to looking towards the future of field service, it’s important for organizations to keep in mind how service has changed. Understanding service model’s evolution can not only help you plan the direction you want your service business to go, but also understand if your service has fallen behind in comparison to today’s models.
Phase 1 - Break It, Fix It Service
This is the model all of us are most familiar with because we probably grew up with it. Person has a machine. The machine stops working. Person contacts the manufacturer’s customer service department. The field service organization dispatches a technician to fix the machine. Person is happy machine is working again. And the whole cycle starts over when the machine breaks again.
Techs in the model also often kept documents, signatures, and other information on paper. The paper would then go to the back office for record-keeping, filing, and invoicing once the work was done. However, sometimes, these papers would sometimes get lost, damaged, or the tech’s handwriting would be plain illeligible.
This was the original service model that existed for decades.
Phase 2 - Preventive Service
As the technology of machines got more advanced and complex, so did the technology for fixing it. Instead of technicians only coming when the customer calls for an equipment repair, another service model emerged: preventive maintenance. With this type of maintenance, technicians came to service machines regularly to prevent them from breaking. To do this, techs use field service software-- no more paper documentation--loaded onto mobile devices. With mobile field service software, techs can track parts they need to complete fixes whether the part is on another truck or in the inventory warehouse. An Aberdeen report says 72% of leading field service organization ensure their techs have software that allows techs to track assets in real-time, compared to 31% of laggard organizations. This service was faster, paperless, and gave machines more uptime and productivity since the amount of downtime was lowered, saving business owners money.
Phase 3 - Predictive Service and Beyond
Now, with the growing popularity of the Internet of Things and connected, smart machines, predictive maintenance is the future of service. This means that service is based on data from machines that let field service technicians know when a failure will occur before it happens. In this way, field techs can predict when the machine needs to be serviced. 53% of the leading organizations service connected machines that send data remotely and autonomously. Smart machines can send out alerts to technicians and field service organizations themselves without any human interaction, and in some cases, they can even fix themselves. 63% of leading organizations believe it’s important for techs to have mobile/remote access to data.
Machines connected through sensors are constantly monitored. However, technicians must be able to decipher the machine’s data output to see what is malfunctioning and disrupting the machine’s performance. Monitoring and analyzing data will be a big part of the future of service for manufacturers. In fact, better data analytics mean more predictive service execution. The leading organizations have 41% of their visits for predictive and preventive maintenance, while these type of service visits make up only 27% for laggards.
Additionally, self-service options that allow customers to scan machine QR codes and automatically pull up information on a specific machine and request service, are increasingly important for service organizations to offer. Having a mobile field service software app that enables customer self-service is another way your organization can stand out from the competition and keep customers engaged.
Phase 4 - Crowd Service
Crowdsourcing field service is a new and helpful addition to earlier service models. When field service organizations crowdsource service, there’s supply and demand flexibility and scalability since this additional workforce is available on-demand. On top of that, IoT connected machines can be used in a smart way since there’s always someone to go tend to them. No matter what service calls your fully employed techs have scheduled for the day, you can provide instant service to your customers and create a diverse workforce by supplementing your workers with a service crowd.