Article | August 25, 2023

Creating An Intelligent And Autonomous Field Force To Bolster Resilience In Service Order Lifecycle

By Tim Kennedy, Senior Vice President, Innover

GettyImages-1445201995 automated workflow

The integration of innovative technologies is propelling the service industry into new and exciting territories, revolutionizing areas such as maintenance, repairs, installations, and customer support. The progress in these areas is fueled by a multitude of technologies, including service automation, artificial intelligence, cutting-edge learning tools, and augmented reality solutions, empowering technicians to do much more in the field.

From ensuring uninterrupted service through virtual visits to minimizing manpower dependency with automation and optimizing resource allocation using data-driven predictions, the focus is on empowering efficient mobilization and delivering uninterrupted service.

Simultaneously, customer expectations have evolved, demanding a seamless and impeccable experience throughout their journey – from initial contact to job completion. Research from Salesforce indicates that 48% of customers have switched brands for customer experience while 94% confess they are more likely to invest in a product or service if the customer service is prompt. Hence, it has become imperative for field service managers to adeptly navigate these demands - boosting first call fix rates, adhering to SLAs and ultimately driving higher customer satisfaction.

By embarking on a remarkable journey of digital reinvention, field service providers can achieve a 360-degree view of operations - reinforcing safety measures, optimizing service costs and driving efficiency throughout the entire service supply chain. Technology is an essential cog that swiftly and efficiently turns the wheels of digital transformation empowering field service providers to stay at the forefront of the industry and deliver exceptional experiences.

Intelligent Monitoring & Predictive Maintenance

Field service providers can revolutionize their businesses by embracing AI, IoT, Digital Twins, and other modern-day tech marvels. With the aid of these technologies, they can delve into the intricate details, analyzing data streaming from various sources such as IoT devices, sensors, and connected equipment. This unlocks a treasure-trove of actionable insights that fuel predictive analytics, proactive maintenance and real-time monitoring of field service operations. Equipped with advanced monitoring systems, technicians gain the power to foresee machine lapses, diagnose issues, and conduct health assessments on critical parts - arriving at their destination fully prepared. This enables them to take proactive measures such as initiating timely maintenance or repairs, preventing costly breakdowns, ensuring optimal equipment functionality and adhering to service level agreements.

Real-time Demand Sensing & Smart Scheduling

Field service providers now have the power to employ advanced demand sensing techniques, analyzing various demand signals, such as market shifts, weather changes, and consumer habits to generate accurate forecasts. This capability can help them respond to demand-supply imbalances, develop responsive business plans, and build a demand planning and capacity allocation dashboard to balance field force workloads. Additionally, by leveraging intuitive technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing they can interpret factors such as technician skills, availability, location, order completion times and customer preferences. This enables them to intelligently allocate the most suitable technician for each job, prioritize work orders, and dynamically adjust schedules to meet customer demands while minimizing travel time. With such intelligent solutions at their disposal, they can achieve seamless coordination, improve response times, increase first-time fix rates and curtail costs, ultimately driving excellence in dispatch and scheduling processes.

Immersive Customer Support & Practical Training

Immersive technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are spearheading a revolution in the field service industry. These cutting-edge technologies are transforming traditional approaches by facilitating real-time interactions between customers and field agents in virtual environments. Through AR-powered remote assistance, customers can share live video feeds with field technicians who can then provide guidance and support virtually. This eliminates the need for physical presence, minimize travel time, reduce service requests and enables faster problem resolution. Moreover, AR and VR are revolutionizing customer experiences by offering immersive Do-It-Yourself (DIY) guides, empowering customers to troubleshoot and resolve minor issues on their own using step-by-step instructions and visual overlays. Further, leveraging the immersive nature of AR and VR, field technicians can undergo training by utilizing virtual simulations and hands-on learning in virtual environments that mirror real-life situations. This enables technicians to acquire practical knowledge and skills in a safe and controlled setting, reducing the necessity for unproductive field trips or visits.

Automated Workflows & Seamless Reporting

In the realm of field services, automation takes the center stage, empowering businesses to drive seamless operations, improve productivity and minimize human dependency. Automation can simplify work order creation, tracking, and completion. With automated workflows, field service providers can streamline the entire work order lifecycle, from assignment to closure, ensuring timely execution and expedited delivery. Moreover, by automating reporting and documentation, technicians are liberated from paperwork, empowering them to dedicate their time to value-added activities. This not only helps to eliminate manual administrative work but also unlocks valuable insights into performance metrics, resource utilization, and customer satisfaction. Leveraging automation technologies, field service providers can fine-tune processes, make concrete decisions quickly and achieve peak efficiency in every task they undertake.

A Digitally Transformed and Intelligent Field Force

Change is the only constant, is a proverb relevant for all businesses that wish to stay attuned to today’s rapidly evolving business environment. Helping the field force stay true to this demand for change is technology. Field service like all other business processes should integrate AI/ML, Computer Vision, NLP, and other contemporary technologies to have a single view of their operations. They should use a mix of available technologies to efficiently manage incoming data drawing valuable inferences that define the present and future course, enable optimized utilization of available resources, and deliver a total experience that is appreciated by both employees and customers. Data published on FinancesOnline reveals that 89% of customers want to see modern, on-demand technology applied to their technician scheduling, and nearly as many customers would be willing to pay a premium for it, clearly indicating the urgent need for field service providers to integrate contemporary technologies and up the customer experience. A technology focus will not just improve service delivery and the experience of employees, the agility and efficiency to drive quicker resolutions will build a strong foundation for longtime relationships with the customer.

About The Author

Tim brings more than 20 years of experience implementing sales strategies and revenue generation roadmaps across a wide range of industries. As Senior Vice President at Innover, Tim is responsible for all sales activities to achieve revenue growth for the company. He has been consistently building and leading successful sales and client service teams helping them solve complex business objectives while driving significant increases in revenue and client retention.

As a trusted advisor, Tim is passionate about driving continuous process improvement, optimization, and customer experience for clients. Prior to Innover, Tim has served in various leadership roles at CenturyLink, Janus, Qwest Communications, etc. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Northern Colorado, where he double majored Marketing and Management.