The Service Council - a community of Service Executives representing global, industry-leading, service-centric businesses - recently released their quarterly report, which reveals interesting trends in field service. For the report, Chief Customer Officer, Sumair Dutta, interviewed 75 managers at field service companies to discover the biggest challenges and trends they were facing.
Here are the key takeaways from this insightful report:
Service Requests Primarily Coming Through Other Channels
The amount of service calls being made via phone has decreased from Q1 of 2015. More and more service calls are coming via other channels, which shows that it’s important to have a variety of ways for customers to get in touch other than a customer service phone number.
More Field Service Visits
Both planned and unplanned field service visits have gone up in Q2 with 48% of businesses reporting an increase in visits, and only 11% reporting a decrease. Presumably, as preventive maintenance continues to be put into SLAs and predictive maintenance technology enables techs to anticipate failures, it seems the amount of work continues to grow for field service technicians. Sumair Dutta who created The Service Council report says that people have been mentioning increasing service demand, but at the same time had a lack of resources to support that demand. Now however, “organizations have put more resources into supporting demand,” so this is no longer as much of an issue.
Increases in Both Revenue and Costs
Over 50% of businesses reported that total service, contract, and parts revenue has gone up in Q2. Still, while the percentage rate of decreasing costs stays the same, 45% of field service businesses reported an increase in total service costs, and a 50% increase in field service labor costs. Dutta says that for many service companies, profitability is becoming more tied to revenue rather than limiting costs. When using field service software, Coresystems customers have experienced a decrease in field service costs and increase in service revenue.
Biggest Field Service Trend Focus is on Profitability
Finding ways to make field service business more profitable is a main focus area for 67% of field service companies. Creating new revenue streams is one way to increase profitability and companies can do this by studying data to see what types of offers customers would be interested in.
The second and third most popular area of focus is updating technology and developing new offerings for customers. Field service software can help increase profitability by helping techs get to more service calls each day and offering customers self-service options all on a newer technology platform. Furthermore, to help with profitability, techs need to be efficient in the field, while also keeping in touch with dispatching and inventory management.
Biggest Challenge is Lack of Collaboration
Though the economic/business climate and workforce management/talent issues are seen as the most important difficulties too, over 35% of business says that a lack of collaboration is the biggest challenge their field service company faces. Luckily, field service software helps techs collaborate better on large, highly complex jobs. Techs can access service history, manuals, and view photos with annotations directly on a mobile device. This way they can see what work was completed by another tech.
The Need to Hire More Field Service Techs
The report also forecasts that most businesses will be looking to do more hiring in 2016. As field service engineers age out of the workforce, attracting more candidates to field service work has been an ongoing challenge. Dutta states that in the next 10 years, 70% of service organizations will be dealing with large amounts of techs dropping out of the workforce because of retirement. This presents challenges for training new workers, and making sure older workers can pass their on-the-job knowledge to younger ones. The faster a new worker can be trained and get to work, the better. Thankfully, field service software offers dynamic checklists that can get new workers on their feet in no time.
Smart Technology Investments
In the coming months, businesses have plans to invest in field service, analytics, and knowledge management. Once again, this is where field service software comes in handy. An investment in a cloud-based mobile field service app can help with each of those points.
The Best Service Value Propositions
Companies in the report listed their top service value propositions as having highly trained skilled techs, good service quality, and arriving on site quickly. With field service software, companies empower their techs by giving them all of the information about customers and machines at the touch of their fingers, while also improving first-time fix rates. Mobile workforce software helps dispatchers plan techs’ routes so they can be on-site as soon as possible.
Image: The Service Council / August 2015