When we think about field service, we probably start envisioning hard hats, safety glasses and leather tool belts surrounded by industrial machines.
That is how it probably looked for a long time with field service agents involved in lots of manual processes, reacting to broken equipment and bearing the traditional hardware of years past. Even when we look at it from a business’ stand-point, Field Service was considered as a cost center for the organisation with no direct impact on the revenue growth.
Today, as we move onto Industrial Revolution 4.0, organisations can truly enable digital transformation to transform the typical onsite experiences into positive customer engagements.
It has enabled businesses to optimize cost while at the same time maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction.
Evolution of Field Service
Manufacturing has undergone many transformations historically. It has been able to capitalize on mass labor systems and technology innovations to support their exponential growth.
The disruptive forces of physical and digital innovation have created another opportunity to generate revenue by providing differentiated service instead of discrete products.
While the possibility of selling services has always existed, it is only now that it has become profitable. There are four fundamental factors driving this new opportunity.
- Employee connectivity: With the rapid proliferation of mobile devices catalyzed by growing number and maturity of business apps, field employees have a better view of their daily routine even on the move.
Gartner estimates that the average enterprise has deployed 8 to 15 mobile applications
This has taken redundant steps out of their day to day lives like moving back and forth from their offices. (Read here about the Changing Mobility Landscape)
2. Internet of Things: While IoT frequently gets associated with novel customer applications, it’s found a highly productive home with field service once integrated into the broader field service management platform.
IoT devices have the capability to scale to millions of connections within a single hub and process massive amounts of data. Every single event is being recorded and processed for analysis.
“McKinsey predicts that 70% of IoT applications will take place in industries across B2B heavy enterprises like field service.”
While still in its infancy, some companies have started realizing this opportunity to create entirely new business models and truly create differentiation in the market.
3. Scale and power of data ingestion, management and analysis capabilities: This rapid growth in IoT devices has been supported by powerful data management and predictive analytical solutions provided by Cloud Vendors.
The raw data from heavy industrial equipments is transformed into actionable insights and predictions in near real time.
On-site technicians are now armed with data before they visit the site, so that they can focus on the solution rather than diagnoses.
This has directly reduced downtime thereby having a direct impact on customer satisfaction. (See how ThyssenKrupp has transformed its field service capabilities to create a delightful experience)
4. Mixed Reality Headsets: All this has been augmented by the introduction of holographic computing which has enabled the field technicians to go beyond the screen and interact with virtual reality elements added into real world environments. And to further build upon that, these headsets have video chat capabilities attached with them, which has truly enabled the field technicians to connect with the experts wherever additional support is required. This has drastically reduced the downtime and transformed the entire field service experience.
With the evolution of Field Service Technologies, businesses have to re-think their processes. This requires a change in the way they have viewed field service which will ultimately enable them to define new roles and responsibilities of not only the field technicians but also the rest of the customer facing roles.
Changing Roles and Responsibilities
While the core function of Field Service Agents will always be about helping customers solve problems, we’ve gone far beyond the idea of “fix and repair”. It’s no longer enough to send technicians into the field with one responsibility. It’s time to strategically think about how to create an overall experience for a customer that spans all touch points including those involved post purchase.
Field Service Agents are empowered with a powerful technology and with great power comes great responsibilities.
This change requires them to change their skill sets and go beyond just fixing up things. This change requires them to create positive customer engagements which would enable them to harness insights from manufacturers. These insights can then be communicated to the sales and marketing team. This change also Sales and Marketing team need to shift their perceptions of Field Service Agents from just operations personnel to extend information arms.
This collaboration would provide a seamless transition from sales to fulfillment thereby harnessing the power of these disruptive forces.
There is clear evidence that technologies that underpin the fourth industrial revolution are having a major impact on businesses.- Klaus Schwab
With this transformation in the environment, customers are quickly coming at the epicenter and expecting better engagements and services than ever before. And this emergence of new business models means that talents and culture of the organization have to be redesigned to meet future customer expectations.
We are just at the onset of this rapid transformation. As more customers, employees and machines get connected, linking employees with quality information would go a long way in improving quality of customer engagements.
I hope you enjoyed my views on “How Field Service Agents can become your next Sales People”. What do you think? Looking forward to interact with you.
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