From emerging new technologies to the increased importance of customer service, field service has experienced a lot of change in recent months. But there’s another looming change that field service business can navigate head on. The collaborative economy is “a fast growing segment where common technologies enable people to get the goods and services they need from each other, peer to peer, instead of buying from established corporations.”
According to a new report called “The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy” by Jeremiah Owyang and Alexandra Samuel, there are a few key ways traditional businesses can be competitive in the next economy. Even already established brands will have to rely on new strategies to remain successful in this economy.
Though the report was focused on how customers are behaving in the collaborative economy, traditional field service businesses can and should learn from this trend and adapt their offerings to including the following:
Customers have become progressively mobile, and that means your field service should too. Your business should be equipped and ready for real-time service--the ability to order and provide service immediately on-demand--whenever customers have problems with their machines. Whether the service call comes via an app or a customer who calls in, your technicians should be able to see customer requests on their mobile workforce management app. This is not an option anymore, but a must for field service businesses today. If you’re still working on paper, you’ll falling farther behind the times.
Convenience is of high importance in the collaborative economy. Customers want their problems solved instantly. Assistance can be achieved through installing predictive maintenance sensors on equipment and monitoring data of the machines in real-time. Or real-time service could happen through giving your customers self-service options, such as the ability to scan a QR code that takes them to your platform and lets the customer schedule a service appointment or access information and manuals about the machine. The report says there are a variety of ways to offer customers your products and services on-demand, including having platforms that allow customers easier access to your brand.
Collaborative economy customers care about price the most, followed by convenience and brand. The report stated that “luxury brands are far less likely to lose customers to sharing startups.” So field service companies that offer high-value, complex services may be less in danger of losing customers to the collaborative economy. However, customers do want to have more choices. This could mean offering the option of professional field service completed by staffed technicians who are going to do high quality work at a higher price, and at the same time also giving the option for the customer to choose crowd service that’s provided by local, skilled amateurs at a lower price. Instead of field service companies’ assigning techs to service jobs, now’s the time to make it the customer’s choice. This allows you to compete in the collaborative economy by offering options that are convenient and priced competitively.
On-Demand Field Force
One of the greatest values that businesses within the collaborative economy offer customers is the ability to provide instant access to services and products. Field service companies should develop offerings that can compete with this on-demand nature, and one of the best ways to do this is through creating an on-demand field force.
The report says, “Mobile-enabled, on-demand, customized products and services are fast becoming the new normal, and companies that fail to offer customers what they want, when and how they want it, are in ever-greater peril.”
Since customers expect real-time service, having a field force that can meet these expectations and still provide quality service means field service companies have to adapt. Along with the collaborative economy, crowdsourcing is one way to tap into a wider network of technicians who can help meet these growing service demands. This is good news for field service businesses that are also plagued with an aging workforce. Field service companies can also collaborate with startups and offer brand as a service.
Infographic: Data from Crowd Companies / Vision Critical