Guest Column | October 18, 2021

Digitizing Field Service Operations

By Ivan Moore, Forcivity


Improving field service productivity is top of mind for most industries. It comes as no surprise with the significant shortage of field technicians, with 3 million unfilled jobs expected in the skilled trades by 2028. As a result, businesses are trying to keep up with rapid technological changes and increasing demand for better customer service.

Visibility into equipment and technician availability, service contracts, work orders, remote assistance like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), are all easily attainable with the right field service tool.

Too often, this type of data lives on paper, whiteboards, spreadsheets, and separate systems leading to the risk of errors and miscommunication at every stage of the process. Reliability, consistency, and quality differ from day to day and agent to agent leading to a less than desired service experience.

Outdated Systems

Field Service Management (FSM) is how organizations manage their mobile field technicians, the scheduling of resources, ordering of parts, creation of work orders and service reports, as well as monitoring equipment inventory. This information lives in varying locations involving manual procedures — an outdated system ripe for transformation.

Customers today demand more transparency, speed, and value for their money. This often conflicts with field service operations when technicians are delayed in solving customer issues, such as being forced to drive back and forth from the office to the client due to process inefficiencies (i.e.: not having the right part for the job.)

In cases like this, rather than service new customers or optimize existing customer relationships, technicians are wasting important time and resources on non-revenue-generating activities.

Benefits To Digitizing Field Service Operations

Service organizations can empower their technicians by unlocking the use of data currently trapped in siloed systems. There are many benefits to digitizing end-to-end field service operations. It leads to increased productivity by:

  • Providing a unified view of open work orders, parts availability, and technicians’ skillsets, so the right technician is dispatched to the right job
  • Offering self-scheduling options for customers to schedule remote assistance
  • Generates reminders/confirmation info before the visit to remind the technician what to check for and what to bring
  • Gaining real-time visibility to equipment and field crew locations
  • Provide real-time customer and account details, schedules, directions, work order history, and manuals
  • Invoicing customers as soon as the job is complete with real-time status updates

Adopting The Technology

Digitizing operations in the field is one thing but getting technicians to embrace the technology is another. Many field service agents shut down when software, automation, and IoT are mentioned. They’ve been doing the job the same way for years and it works for them, but they’re stuck in a pattern of outdated processes that are too manual and paper-based. While these procedures are second nature to employees, they are no longer the most effective approach.

Technicians who are open to working with technology are the ones who will stay relevant and in high demand. But many companies integrate a new system without dedicating enough time and resources to help adoption. Showing how the solution is going to make things better, quicker, and more efficient for them and customers should be communicated at the onset.

When employers explain how it reduces the technician's tedious workload, field agents are more apt to buy into the technology because they feel educated and supported in the process. Field technicians will continue to understand, adopt, and utilize the technology, leading to increased profitability for the company with improved first-time fix rates and overall customer satisfaction.

The Customer Experience Journey

With the help of powerful field service management software, organizations can take steps forward in the race against competition. To do that, service operators must meet and exceed today’s customer expectations.

The field service department must work together with transparency across the company and its technicians to engage with customers in a meaningful way at every stage of their journey. From filing a service order to scheduling an appointment to servicing the equipment in person or remote—the right field service technology solution unites administrators, dispatchers, and technicians with the data, tools, and insights to understand the needs of each customer.

The Time To Implement Is Now

The cost of delaying field service transformation can be high. As business grows, manual processes and aged systems can lead to friction for technicians and customers. Implementing new technologies helps maximize productivity and improves a business-wide exchange of knowledge with transparency that deepens customer relationships.

The key to a successful deployment of a new field service solution is putting the technicians at the forefront so they can dive into the technology with confidence. Digital transformation for field services is no different from any other industry. It has become a necessity and is well underway for leading enterprises.

About The Author

Ivan is Chief Client Officer of Forcivity, a company exclusively focused on assisting companies through service transformations to improve their customer experience and accelerate growth. Ivan and his team deliver successful business outcomes for their clients across the entire customer journey by assessments of their sales and service delivery, optimization of business processes, operating metrics, and deployment of enabling technologies.

About Forcivity

Forcivity specializes in helping organizations integrate an omni-channel experience into their CRM and service management package. Learn how we can help!