PraxedoOur blog Field service companies: The secret to beating the competition
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Field service companies: The secret to beating the competition

Tania Piunno
Tania Piunno
December 9, 2021
6 min. min.

Competition is the biggest threat to any field service provider. With a market that is constantly growing, the number of players in each sector of field service is exploding. As more and more companies transform to digital operations, using new technologies is no longer an option. It has become imperative for every field service provider that wants to survive, thrive and provide the best possible customer service in this “new normal”.
There are 2 pivotal ways successful service companies use software technology to surpass their competition.

1. They put customers at the center of their business strategy

The top field service companies in North America put their customers at the center of everything they do. They clearly understand that it is far easier and less expensive to retain satisfied customers than to win new ones. In fact, customer satisfaction is their top priority. Everyone in the company — from senior managers to field technicians — is solely focused on keeping customers happy. Field service management (FSM) software is the bridge that connects companies with their customers.

Keeping customers informed

The days when customers would wait hours for a technician to arrive and troubleshoot issues with their equipment are over. Today’s business world moves at a much faster pace and customers want to know exactly what time technicians will arrive. If you’re still using an Excel spreadsheet and paper forms to schedule and manage service calls, you have very little chance at meeting customer expectations. In truth, your competition will likely do it for you. FSM software with advanced customer communication capabilities is essential to providing customers with the information they need. For example, software allows you to send customers an automated email or text message informing them the technician is on their way or arriving at a specific time. This helps customers plan their day in advance. And, if customers are not onsite when the technician visit is over, they’ll appreciate receiving an automated message confirming that the work is complete.

The ability to communicate in real-time is equally important when sending service reports to customers after job completion. Paper reports are often poorly completed with illegible writing, forcing administrators to re-enter information so a “clean” and professional report can be sent to the customer. This additional administrative work delays communications with the customer. However, with customized field service software, technicians can use their mobile app to quickly and easily complete the report, ask customers for their electronic signature, and email it to them with a single click.

Offering customers solutions that are tailored to their business

FSM software allows you to collect, cross-reference and process all of the information in your customer database, including the fleets of equipment you maintain. As a result, you can identify trends and common reasons for unexpected breakdowns on different types of equipment and better anticipate failures. This allows you to create customized maintenance plans based on a customer’s specific needs, to improve first-time fix rates and operate in more profitable ways. It is better to send a technician during a critical time period when failures are most likely to occur, than on a scheduled date when everything is fine. Customers also like this type of maintenance plan because they can optimize operating time for their equipment to reduce downtime and improve productivity.

2. They use data intelligence to better understand their customers

With customers at the heart of your strategy, you’re in a good position to grow your business. But, you still have to have a deeper understanding of your customers and why they buy. There’s no real secret to attaining this kind of knowledge, however newer technologies have become available to help you gain more insight into who they are and what they expect from you. Your top competitors already know who their customers are, how they work and what they want. With this deeper insight, you can go beyond simply being good at what you do and truly deliver the best possible quality of service. Here’s how newer technologies help you reach this level of excellence.

Internet of Things (IoT) and predictive analysis help anticipate breakdowns

The connected objects revolution has had a significant impact on the service world. More and more pieces of equipment are integrated with sensors that monitor operating status and warn technicians of malfunctions before breakdowns occur.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) optimizes service scheduling

Although people have talked about AI for a few years now, the technology has only exploded into the service world more recently. And it is changing things in ways we can’t even imagine. With the increasing volumes of data being generated by connected equipment and machines, analytics technologies are being rapidly developed to help people and systems keep up with, and make the most of, the information flowing in. These advancements are just another reason why field service providers need to move away from paper processes holding them back.

To outshine the competition, going digital is the key. Leading field service companies turn to AI because they understand that it’s the only way to efficiently utilize the data being collected by their customers’ equipment, and to optimize their technicians’ travel schedules. AI makes it possible to consider a range of parameters when planning service calls, including:

  • The type of service needed
  • Technician locations and skills
  • Traffic conditions
  • Parts required
  • Part inventory and stock locations

With artificial intelligence, field service providers have the information needed to get the right technician to the right location at the right time to maximize the chances of resolving the customer issue on the first visit.

Augmented Reality (AR) helps mobile technicians during customer visits

New technologies can also help field service technicians while onsite, to complete a job properly. For example, AR applications can be used to project information – such as equipment schematics and user guides – directly onto the technician’s mobile device or connected glasses to help them identify and resolve equipment issues. Technicians can even use the technology to request live assistance from remote experts and intuitively interact with them to successfully complete tasks.

Virtual Reality (VR) can be used to train service technicians

VR is not as directly related to artificial intelligence as the other technologies we’ve described, but it definitely has a place in the field service landscape. With VR, technicians can use virtual models of equipment to:

  • Simulate equipment failures and responses
  • Train others on new equipment and types of service
  • Prepare for professional certification exams
  • Practice for challenging or complicated service tasks

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