By Ronak Agrawal, Operations and Strategy Associate, Zinier
When was the last time you called a cab company to book a ride to the airport? Feels like ages ago, doesn’t it? With the increased convenience brought about by Uber®, calling a cab is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. This is the age of ‘Uberification’. If this demand for instant service can be satisfied in the consumer market, we can bring it to Field Service too.
Why Uberification, and why now?
From seamless on-demand booking to the efficient delivery of services, Uber® has done an amazing job satisfying consumer demand. Enter Uberification. Simply put, 'Uberification' is the process through which companies instantly connect products and services to customers. As of 2017, only 7% of the potential on-demand market is being served, thus there is a lot of scope for businesses to grow in this market.
Today, this process is greatly optimized by the widespread use of Advanced Artificial Intelligence and IoT; which explains the three-fold increase in the number of companies entering the on-demand economy within just two years.
Within the Field Service industry, a key factor of success is the ability to consistently deliver high-quality service to customers. With greater transparency of information such as technician contact details and location updates, as well as more efficient job scheduling, higher customer satisfaction is guaranteed.
The company's productivity also increases with Uberification. Since technicians with the required knowledge, skills and equipment can reach the customer location in the shortest possible time, jobs are completed at a faster pace.
Happier customers and increased productivity enable businesses to grow rapidly and increase profits.
Would it really help to increase customer satisfaction?
Customers look for fast, high-quality services. Uberification plays a big role in helping Field Service providers live up to these expectations.
If you have ever had to wait by the door while your scheduled service technician battled traffic, you are familiar with the feeling that your time could have been better spent elsewhere. This is where Uberification can make a difference. With location tracking features, customers can check the location and ETA of service technicians and even call them if needed. According to CSG International, 89% of customers today want an "Uber-like" technician tracking service. Providing such a service will exponentially increase customer satisfaction.
Uberification also brings service technicians and customers closer. With support for rich media capabilities, customers and technicians can add pictures or videos to help service technicians understand issues better. This enables technicians to do a better job on the field and increases First-Time-Fix rates.
How does it increase productivity for companies?
The Field Service industry is a volatile one because breakdowns occur at unexpected times. It is also time-sensitive as Service Level Agreements (SLAs) need to be adhered to. To mediate these two constraints, a corresponding number of technicians with appropriate skill sets are needed, and needed fast. With Uberification, companies can gain access to an external (technician) talent pool that increases workforce flexibility.
The advent of advanced Artificial Intelligence, as well as system algorithms to collect and analyse data, empowers Field Service providers to effortlessly match jobs to the correct technicians, based on their availability, skill sets, job complexity, location as well as the company's SLA requirements. With Uberification, decision-making is expedited and productivity increased.
Are these the only benefits?
In addition, Uberification records and digitalizes all actions and processes as data. This data is harnessed and displayed using intuitive visualisations to provide insight on how to continuously improve business operations and create sales opportunities.
Uberification also enables features like Geo-Tagging and Route Optimization that increase technicians’ efficiency by providing the exact service location and the best route there.
What are the potential issues with Uberification in the Field Service industry?
Like any other technology, Uberification in Field Service does have some of its own hurdles:
Field Service Uberification involves expanding a company’s field workforce to include external technicians. This change in workforce composition can make it a challenge to maintain consistency in customer service. Uber® addresses this problem by using a driver rating system – Companies providing Field Service can solve this problem by not only implementing a rating system for technicians but also providing the technicians with training sessions and on-site information relevant to their task.
To ensure each customer's service request is successfully completed, it is imperative for the assigned technician to have the knowledge and experience necessary to complete the task. Systems to provide Field Service must be able to identify the best technicians for each job. For newer technicians, the system must provide contextualized knowledge resources for on-site guidance. Even with basic training, field workers will be able to successfully attend to customers service requests.
Field Service Uberification brings numerous benefits to both customers and businesses. Customers will experience a faster delivery of services. With the use of cost-effective methods for the delivery of these services, businesses will profit as well. While there might be some teething problems with the initial integration of on-demand workforce, these can be easily overcome with the right tools and proper strategic planning. Overall, there is little doubt that Uberification will become an important component of an effective Field Service strategy in the future.
 Mitch Ratcliffe, Sizing the Local On-Demand Economy: 2016 – 2017 (BIA Advisory Services, 2017), http://blog.biakelsey.com/index.php/2017/02/01/sizing-the-local-on-demand-economy-2016-2017/
 Charles Colby and Kelly Bell, The On-Demand Economy Is Growing and Not Just for the Young and Wealthy (Harvard Business Review, 2016), https://hbr.org/2016/04/the-on-demand-economy-is-growing-and-not-just-for-the-young-and-wealthy
 CSG Releases Survey Results on In-Home Customer Service (CSG International, 2014), https://ir.csgi.com/investors/press-releases/press-release-details/2014/CSG-Releases-Survey-Results-on-In-Home-Customer-Service/default.aspx