What does the field service representative of the future look like?

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This is Part 2 of the series: The Future of Field Services Is Here

Click here to read Part 1: Outcome-based services vs. traditional services: Why the model is changing

Customer experience and digital transformation are intrinsically connected. The link is so strong that when a business incorporates customer-focused operational and IT changes, it can expect a 20 to 30 percent increase in customer satisfaction.

However, the field services industry ― one that has traditionally relied heavily on pen and paper ― has been slow to adapt to digital transformation, and thus, meet evolving consumer demands …

… until now.

Rapid changes in technology, the impacts of COVID-19, and the need to match customer expectations, are accelerating digital adoption by field service representatives. Today, new, innovative digital tools and resources are in the works, and they will enable field service representatives to optimize their day-to-day operations. The result: faster response times, safer worksites, and more efficient service calls for a better overall customer experience.

What does the field service representative of the future look like? Below, I break down seven digital solutions FSRs will use in the years to come to improve the customer experience.

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7 digital solutions for field service representatives

  1. Augmented reality

 Whether a customer is dealing with site access limitations or needs expedited service, they can use augmented reality (AR) to get expert support. With AR, customers connect with an FSR virtually using specialized software that allows the technician to see the damaged or inoperable equipment. From there, they can provide guidance to resolve the issue. Service providers can also apply AR for non-emergency situations, such as preventive maintenance suggestions or modernization assessments.

Overall, AR gives customers faster response times compared to a typical on-site visit, and provides FSRs a more accurate overview of potential issues and solutions, for faster overall service and efficiency. And, the faster a field service representative resolves an issue, the higher the overall customer satisfaction rating.

Moving forward, remote support from AR is poised to gain traction as more organizations implement health and safety precautions such as limiting outside vendors and enforcing social distancing.

  1. Customer portals

 Customer portals reduce the complexity of working with a services provider. They act as a central online hub where customers can schedule service, view past bills and reports, see pricing, download product datasheets, and connect with support. It’s also where a customer gets an overview of all their assets and service contracts.

More advanced portals are even customizable to a particular facility or business goal. For example, a customer may be able to view training applicable to their industry or upcoming events.

Two men and a woman speaking infront a data center system. The man in the middle is a field service representative.

  1. Standardized reporting

 In the past, a customer may have received separate reports for each type of equipment serviced or tests performed during a single visit. Over time, keeping track of all these reports can get confusing.

By streamlining reporting, customers receive one report, regardless of service performed. This cuts down on paperwork and gives a consistent, clear view of all the work performed.

At the same time, standardized reporting coupled with a customer portal gives a customer on-demand access to their data, saving them time and reducing the complexity of managing the information.

Standardized reporting also reduces an FSR’s administrative time, so it’s a win-win for both parties.

  1. Change orders

 Sometimes, a visit from an FSR uncovers additional problems that aren’t in the original work scope. Or, maybe a customer wants to add an extra assessment to a pre-scheduled service call. In a traditional setting, the FSR would have to schedule a follow-up to visit to address these concerns ― it’s an unnecessary step that wastes time and money.

However, new digital change order tools enable FSRs to generate a quote and provide the service immediately. When this happens, the customer doesn’t have to pay extra mobilization fees and receive faster service.

  1. Geolocation

 Have you ever received an alert that your Amazon package is “10 stops away,” or your grocery delivery will arrive in five minutes? That high-level of visibility is possible because of geolocation.

Geolocation can also give field service customers a real-time look into where the FSR is en route to a facility. The technology also helps fine-tune their estimated time of arrival.

With this tracking, the service provider also has unprecedented access to data that improves scheduling and speeds up travel time to the site through route optimization.

  1. Mobile apps

 Gaps in internet service happen, so it’s important to have a backup plan when technology isn’t connected. Mobile devices are a tool that can bridge the gap when laptops and computers are offline.

FSRs can use their mobile device to receive job assignments, update their schedule, create a change order, complete pre-work safety checks, and upload project-specific information such as time and expenses, thus improving their overall efficiency in meeting customer needs.

  1. Third-party transparency

 Field service representatives may work with external partners to complete some tasks. Historically, these third-parties did not have access to the central customer platform. But new tools give external vendors access to these systems, enabling them to schedule work orders, relay project information, send invoices, and more.

Again, customers benefit from increased efficiency and a more streamlined experience.

The future is here

There’s no denying that expectations are changing. Customers want fast response times, efficient service, and visibility into the process.  Digital tools and resources help FSRs meet these needs.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of the series: The Future of Field Services Is Here, as I take a deeper dive into the transition from CapEx to OpEx, and how it’s impacting field services.

To learn more about the benefits of partnering with expert service providers, download this white paper.

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