This article originally appeared on January 28, 2020, in the online edition of Field Service News
In parallel to the Servitization trend that is occurring within Field Service is a growing desire among Field Service Organization to deliver proactive service. This can be achieved by either attempting to dispatch a technician to resolve a problem before the customer even knows about it or by attempting to resolve or prevent the problem occurring in the first place using remote support tools. Fortunately, Field Service Organizations have been able to turn to an ever-growing set of tools and technology to help them achieve this desired state. From Dynamic Scheduling to Spare Parts Optimization, to AI tool, these technologies have focused on helping FSOs organizations deliver proactive service and optimize their business.
Optimization in Field Service
Ultimately, optimization involves choosing between two or more alternatives that result in the most cost-effective or highest achievable performance given constraints, by maximizing desired factors and minimizing undesired ones. For example, achieving the highest level of customer satisfaction while maximizing the first-time fix and minimizing cost all through a fixed inventory of parts and a limited pool of technicians. Optimization technology has proven to be effective when dealing with strategic and tactical issues such as pricing, parts availability, and technician schedules. This is because automation can facilitate this process of choosing between multiple alternatives and constraints to arrive at the best solution.
Except for diagnostics and analytics, optimization techniques have not been applied to the full array of operational decisions a Field Service Engineer (FSE) must make while they are onsite. This is because unless we are dealing with service robots or cyborgs, it is almost impossible to automate/optimize human decision making. Humans don’t always solve problems in a linear way.
While we may not be able to optimize their decision, we can still help optimize their performance. In other words, we can provide the tools that make the highest and best use of their most precious resource...time.
Basically, FSOs can optimize job site performance by providing their FSEs with mobile solutions that provide access to critical feature functionality:
- Work Orders: FSOs can dispatch work orders to their FSE utilizing mobile solutions. In turn, FSEs can manage their time, routes, and schedules more effectively and make decisions that result in higher productivity.
- Install Base Data: Providing FSEs with information on their customers’ install base helps them understand the key characteristics of the customers' environment and service entitlements. This enables FSEs to demonstrate their knowledge, anticipate needs, provide suggestions, and position themselves as trusted advisors.
- Equipment Service History: This helps FSEs understand prior failures and corrective actions that may have been performed. As a result, FSEs can be more effective in diagnosing the problem and fixing the issue right the first time. Like Install Base Data, access to Equipment Service History information helps FSEs in their role as a trusted advisor.
- Electronic Parts Catalog/BOMs: FSOs can facilitate the first-time fix and improve FSE productivity by providing FSEs with mobile access to electronic parts catalogs and Bill of Materials. These applications help FSEs search for parts, determine availability, and place orders for new ones.
- Knowledge: Access to the right knowledge can be an impediment to first-time fix and timely service. While knowledge artifacts may exist within an FSO, they may be contained in disparate databases and difficult to find. Searching for the right knowledge can be time-consuming and costly. FSOs can overcome these challenges through a unified, mobile knowledge platform that puts access to a broad array of knowledge artifacts in the hands of FSEs.
- Forms: Mobile forms can help FSOs streamline the capture of critical service data. In addition, forms can be structured in such a way that they follow a standard workflow. By implementing forms in this way, FSOs improve FSE utilization and ensure they capture the right data to resolve the issue right the first time.
- Plans & Parts Sales: FSEs create value for their customers and for their company when they can offer service plans, extended warranties, attachments, and spare parts to their customers. FSEs also demonstrate their role as trusted advisors when they are able to create value for their customers. This is the ultimate measure of customer loyalty and satisfaction.
FSEs are the most valuable resources that an FSO has available when it comes to managing Customer Experience (CX) and service delivery. While advanced technology is making it possible for FSOs to resolve service issues remotely and even avoid dispatching entirely, there will still be situations where an FSE is required. By supplying FSEs with the right tools to optimize job site performance, they make the highest and best use of their time which in turn benefits the customer. FSEs become the true trusted advisors and rock stars when this happens!