Top Seven Field Service Industry Trends
As the field service industry evolves, so must the organizations that comprise it. In order to boost their growth and profitability, field service companies should stay abreast of the technologies and trends that shape their ability to deliver competitive products and services.
Ever-increasing customer expectations, the rise of millennials in the workplace, climbing labor costs, and the near-constant advancement of technologies all threaten an organization’s viability: those without modern strategies, tools, and processes in place won’t survive. And since 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a great experience, businesses can’t afford to rising expectations.
Here, we’ll take a look at the seven major trends impacting field service companies, employees, and customers today, arming you with a better understanding of what’s contributing to field service success, enabling you to adapt your business to thrive.
1. Cloud-based Technologies for Workers
80% of the workforce is deskless: workers now spend the majority of their time traveling and operating in the field. You need the right technology and infrastructure in place to give your teams the flexible work conditions and strategies they need to work remotely.
Cloud-based technologies enable field service workers to instantly access and update data, communicate with colleagues and customers, and handle last minute changes without missing a beat—regardless of location. Field operatives can now work from an intelligent field service management cloud app that unifies everything they need in a single place. Meaning less time toggling between various disconnected apps and more time focusing on their customers.
The ability to work remotely through secure, cloud-based tools boosts an entire team’s productivity, as employees have up-to-date access to all the information they need to complete a job (like customer details, job history, and equipment manuals). Cloud-based technologies and mobile apps allow employees to work from anywhere without dated technology slowing them down. Organizations that leverage them as part of their work environment can better attract, engage, and retain their top talent.
2. Training for Technicians
To properly deliver their company’s products and services, field workers must have a detailed understanding of proper protocols, policies, and procedures. This is crucial for a myriad of business components, including meeting compliance standards, correctly following installation guidelines, ensuring safety, and more. It’s also essential for meeting (or exceeding) high customer expectations in an efficient and consistent manner.
Many field service organizations have adopted robust training programs to help improve workers’ hard and soft skills. Regular onsite training empowers workers to use their business’s professional policies, processes, and tools to their full advantage, so they can always deliver an awesome customer experience.
93% of employees say that well-planned training programs positively impact their engagement levels, and highly-engaged teams show 21% greater profitability; so offering robust, ongoing training can lead to both greater retention and ROI.
3. Augmented/Virtual Reality
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are beginning to take many industries by storm, and field service is no exception. These technologies integrate real-world field service scenarios with interactive, computer-generated or adjusted environments to enable risk-free job training.
For example, field workers may use AR or VR to practice equipment installation, part repairs, or even customer communication. Teams can also use devices and applications to visualize and identify potential problems (e.g., product design flaws) before they actually reach a customer. This means technicians can arrive at customer sites fully prepared with essential parts, tools, and knowledge to complete the job on the very first visit.
4. Predictive Maintenance for IoT
Predictive maintenance uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect devices in the field and notify providers or customers when there is a potential issue. This approach takes preventive maintenance to the next level to enable even greater oversight and predictability over field equipment.
By 2025, there are expected to be 497.3 million active smart home households globally, which illustrates the unbelievable opportunity for field service companies to leverage predictive maintenance tools and strategies. Investments in IoT devices help field service organizations and workers easily collect and process data. That data is used to gain actionable insights that improve operations and customer experiences.
Predictive maintenance creates a hypothesis, then builds data models around it. The models then detect anomalies and predict equipment failures before they even happen. IoT devices also alert field workers when components fall outside of certain parameters in order to act swiftly and avoid larger service interruptions. It’s a competitive approach that field service organizations should consider utilizing to anticipate customer needs, personalize client interactions, and reduce downtime.
5. Use of Advanced Technologies
Field workers act as the backbone of field service organizations, and businesses who recognize their worth should empower them to focus on high-value tasks. That’s why many companies have invested in advanced technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to help their workforce become even more efficient and productive.
Field service companies can use AI-backed tools to optimize routes for field workers, instantly build intelligent schedules, and dispatch employees with ease. AI is also valuable for solving business challenges—like maximizing output without hiking up costs—by automating time-consuming, manual, and repetitive tasks.
As your field service operations scale, AI and smart algorithms can help you drive efficiency and optimize service delivery while still maintaining a personalized, human touch with customers.
6. Increased Customer Self-Service
Many field service businesses are implementing tools with self-service capabilities. Self-service allows customers to schedule technicians for certain times, provide detailed feedback, and communicate their preferences or concerns. They can instantly see real-time availability and book or modify appointments in a way that’s convenient and easy. Plus, customers can access up-to-date technician arrival times so they’re not left waiting around all day for service.
Customer self-service can also create a community around a particular product or service if an organization is willing to develop content or other specific resources. FAQ pages, knowledge bases, help centers, on-site chatbots, and more can help customers find and share answers to their most pressing questions without adding to the load of already-busy customer support teams.
7. Tools for Technicians
There are many tools available today to help boost technicians’ efficiency, but the most successful field service organizations choose the technologies they use discerningly. Instead of investing in a whole slew of disjointed tools that promise greater productivity, companies now adopt end-to-end platforms that offer integrated, holistic solutions for their field workers and desk-based employees alike.
The right software should support field workers wherever they are (even offline), and should allow them to access everything they need to complete their job from a single app. Instead of switching between communication apps (like Slack), text messages, phone calls, or their work management platform, dynamic technologies offer the same functionality in one user-friendly place.
Competitive teams invest in tools that improve efficiency with:
- Dynamic scheduling and dispatch, which allows managers to optimize schedules and reassign tasks as needed.
- Contactless field service support to enable field workers to complete tasks without the presence of a customer. That way, they can act to quickly limit their in-person interactions, and still provide exceptional customer service.
- Automated processes that save employees from spending time on redundant, clerical tasks—a process that’s otherwise time-consuming and error-prone.
Powerful Software for a Brighter Field Service Future
As your field service organization scales in the face of fluctuating trends and the constraints of reality, finding the right processes and tools is critical. To stay ahead of the curve and ensure a successful operation, your team needs intelligent field service management (FSM) technologies.
Skedulo’s Field Service Management Solutions help businesses streamline operations for greater workforce efficiency and satisfaction, superior customer experiences, and maximum output. With cloud-based tools for automated scheduling and dispatching, route optimization, real-time communication, and more, Skedulo can help your field service operations thrive.