The future of field service – simpler processes, better service

Profile picture for user Kieran Notter By Kieran Notter January 5, 2021
Remote working is here to stay - Kieran Notter of ServiceMax outlines how field service vendors switch from survival to growth

Drone operated by construction worker on building site © Dmitry Kalinovsky - Shutterstock
(© Dmitry Kalinovsky - Shutterstock)

Get used to it. Working remotely is here to stay, at least according to 2021 predictions by research firm Forrester. In Europe, more than one-third of white-collar European workers will continue to work remotely next year — in many cases, across national borders. For field service teams, this is of course a challenge. Just keeping the lights on during the pandemic has meant a rapid shift to digital to enable remote servicing and self-service functionality,. But customer expectations are already changing. As we enter 2021, it's no longer about survival, it's about growth. How can vendors improve service capabilities, to guarantee uptime of assets during a time of physical, and increasingly economical restrictions?

A shift in thinking

In this environment, companies across all industries are having to reimagine how they operate on a day-to-day basis. Competition is increasing and cost pressures are mounting, so businesses can ill afford to remain static. There needs to be a shift in thinking, in how assets are managed and serviced, but this is easier said than done. The problem facing many businesses is that to really evolve, there needs to be complete oversight of all assets — but a mix of legacy technologies, complex tools, incompatibilities and reluctant customers is undermining progress.

To have a chance of thriving, organizations need to move beyond the standard break-fix model to ensure uptime for important assets in a safe and compliant manner. Service teams must prioritize efficient asset performance, as well as the customer experience they provide. This demands a simplification in the process, a removal of complexity and the opening-up of systems and data to embrace relevant and compatible ecosystem services.

Removing complexity

The problem, of course, is that there is no one-size-fits-all, so vendors need flexibility and to access data from multiple sources. But that suggests the need for a platform-based approach, that can remove siloes and the complexity caused by piecemeal tools and unilateral departmental technology purchasing. Service teams need a unified front to ensure a more comprehensive, collective approach to customers, one that puts the customer front and centre and can deliver a much faster time to value for customers. These are just some of the drivers fuelling the adoption of field service management platforms globally.

By having full view of assets and asset status, in terms of performance, service history, including parts and of course warranty status, service teams can begin to make some informed choices. They can start to accelerate time-to-value to support asset-centric business processes with pre-configured templates and industry best practices. They can gain greater visibility into warranty coverages and improving service margin by preventing uncovered work with warranty and entitlement management.

Field service management tools can also maximize contract attach rates and renewals by monitoring the install base to ensure warranty-to-contract conversion while delivering on entitlements. And a robust field service management platform can also automate RMA/depot repair processes to efficiently manage returns, meet compliance and lower inventory costs with purpose-built interfaces.

Moving forward

A field service management platform that does all this and also integrates with incumbent applications, such as Salesforce, for example, can put powerful tools in the hands of service teams, not just to service assets better, but also to remove in-house complexity and reduce costs of service. Given the current times, the economic uncertainty, the on-going pandemic, and the impact all this is having on businesses of all shapes and sizes, there's a lot to be said for simple, especially if it means improved efficiencies. If service teams are to move forward, they need to act quickly to put the right systems and processes in place. Standing still is no longer an option.