Field Service Management (FSM) has been witnessing rapid growth over the last few years, the rising need to differentiate services and offer personalized experiences has pushed the FSM market growth from $3.12 billion in 2018 and expected to reach $10.81 billion by 2026.
Unlike the past, where companies were plagued with incomplete information and delays, today’s field service workers add value instantly with the right information available 24×7. The most significant change ushered in by the FSM technology has been prioritizing CX. 89% of customers today want to see modern technology applied to their technician scheduling and many would be willing to pay a premium for it. This is transforming the FSM industry into a very lucrative solution with innovations at every turn.
Top 9 Field Service Trends for 2020 & Beyond
FSM is a mature discipline and has not stopped growing or changing. Here are some of the most interesting and innovative trends that will dominate the field service industry in 2020 and beyond.
Trend 1 — Software Platforms to the Rescue
Field Service is transforming customer experience, as well as targeting the effectiveness and productivity of field service operations. FSM platforms built on AI and ML capabilities make the system adapt on the fly. Predictive analytics are delivered for proactive planning as well as interoperability across existing business systems and legacy solutions. The platforms of today allow us to seamlessly transition and solve problems without the need for any new software development.
• With intelligent scheduling, jobs are automatically distributed to the right field employee, on time, with a correct location. Jobs can also be scheduled during opposite work hours so that there is zero human interaction. Systems can also track the field employee in real-time, to assure 100% customer satisfaction.
• Field workers can use image recognition to immediately identify parts that ensure the right product is being fixed or replaced, eliminating additional trips back to the office. Based on the image, the correct instructions are presented to technicians, assuring the customer complete peace of mind.
Trend 2 — Proactive & Predictive Maintenance
The 20 billion IoT connected devices within field service, allow organizations to optimize and automate their processes right from scheduling to predict whether an asset has an issue. Before a system fails, the FSM service encourages proactive monitoring preventing unnecessary customer complaints or work issues.
CPQ users perform better on quota attainment and proposal volume. CPQ enables sales to send prospects and customers 49% more contracts, proposals, quotes and RFP responses.
• Schneider’s Building Management software solutions utilize the data provided by the connected devices to identify points of potential failure. The system sends an alert to the FSM software that prompts field engineers to test suspected components and complete preventative maintenance.
• To avoid ineffective maintenance routines and the costs that accompany them, GE, leverages Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology and data science to monitor the actual health of an asset in real-time. These analytics are then fed to an FSM software that uses AI algorithms to trigger a proactive maintenance check.
Trend 3 — Data Science as an Enabler
For the powerful analytical engines to work, they need to be fueled with data such as the technician’s travel, response times, parts used, types of service, and more. This data is sent to an FSM system whose AI algorithms help people like dispatchers or different sectors of business to analyze/optimize routes and stock more efficiently.
• A large international industrial manufacturer standardizes its form templates to inspect assets, such as HVAC cooling units for large national retailers in the US. Through their data standardization, it was able to gather key data on the customer’s equipment regardless of make and model, which provides the right insights ensuring intelligent servicing.
• Data is creating a context for the field workers who can now focus their efforts on key tasks. This means they spend less time on administrative tasks by ensuring they have the proper tools and parts; the job is completed the first time. This also reduces the number of individual decisions they need to make, in order to do what’s required in a timely, reliable, and meaningful way.
Trend 4 — Mobility & Self-Service
Mobile plays an important role in the field service industry and as the number of connected devices are rapidly increasing, many field service organizations today leverage an enterprise BYOD strategy.
• A simple use case is when a device breaks, an email with a link is sent to the customer even before they know that the system was broken. Clicking on the link provides a self-service portal to the customer for them to fix the issue themselves. If it cannot be fixed, they can raise a service request or initiate a call.
• With improving technology, workers will soon have connected uniforms which will protect them when performing dangerous tasks and transfer information to the company’s FSM systems by sending alerts.
Trend 5 — Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality (AR, VR, MR)
AR, VR, and MR technology is a game-changer in the field service industry. Training modules are uploaded to the glasses that will guide personnel through the process. This allows technicians to visually inspect the device, eliminating the need to look through manuals for hours. For Example,
• Chevron uses VR goggles to simulate refinery equipment and sensor data is superimposed on a 3D model allowing technicians to identify problems and provide solutions instantly.
• BP equips its field service technicians with AR solutions to assist with repairs. It permits service technicians to transmit video of equipment and repairs in real-time back to a supervisor, who can guide in any form, textual & graphical information, or audio description.
Trend 6 — Crowd Service
With the addition of AI tools, service requests are planned in real-time and job notifications are sent creating an on-demand service network that meets customer expectations. Here, customers can also request on-site support where an AI-based routing and scheduling engine finds the next best available expert matching skills, location, and other criteria then send a request.
• Swisscom crowd-sourced an ecosystem of certified experts to perform simple tasks such as installing cable modems, setting up wireless networks, replacing routers, or fixing other issues.
• Field Service Companies like AAA & American Home Shield use crowd-sourced platforms to find service technicians, closer to their customer location looking for service.
Trend 7 — Personalized Field Service Experience
Millennial’s require authentic customer service and a swift resolution to their service inquiries with the latest technology. Though they like responses via smart devices, they demand live agent contact. Not to forget, this young group are the most well-educated cohort of all generations.
• The live chat support using virtual agents are hyper-personalized with speech technology and AI algorithms that analyze the past interactions and current context to provide a very hyper-individualized CX.
• With the help of NLP, chat technology is predicting user behavior patterns. Every customer conversation is streamlined into a centralized interface, helping customer support agents address and resolve trouble tickets.
Trend 8 — Intelligent Supply Chain Management
To deliver a first-time fix, field service and supply chains are being brought together with the help of new technologies. This collaboration goes beyond traditional transactional relationships in warehouse management or transportation. It encompasses value-added processes, such as demand planning, proactive ordering, and intelligent inventory management.
• FSM enables a holistic view of where all spare parts are, whether they are with an engineer, in a warehouse, or in a stock-holding facility. This provides new ways to get an item from A to B.
• Driver-less cars will be in high demand and become mainstream by next year. They will hugely benefit field service and supply management as technicians will be able to multitask behind the wheel. They will have more time to study the issue and personalize, they will also be able to strategically route the workers/stock flow for optimal time efficiency. In emergency the car could self-drive to a warehouse and retrieve a service part while the technician works on other aspects of the repair.
Trend 9 — Contactless Field Service & Safety Checklist
Due to the current COVID-19 situation, all employees are requested to sign consent forms and field service technicians are being proactively reminded with the help of new technologies. This safety checklist makes sure they are not at risk to work and assures customer safety as well.
• FSM enables businesses to prepare for the new normal and complete a safety checklist before they begin work. This can easily be integrated to match evolving safety guidelines across work zones and coordinates with contact tracing apps.
• FSM solutions of the future will be able to quickly run digital signature apps like, DocuSign, to document consent forms and work orders thus avoiding the need to print paper. Contactless technology will be used even before a technician arrives at the location for service and/or will be able to join via a video call to review inspection results and review repair quotes using workflow approvals. This will provide customers with newer ways of getting their service completed much safer and easier.
The Issues — Data Protection, Security, and Privacy
As today’s consumers expect a personalized customer experience, relevant information about them, their habits and their products need to be readily accessible whenever needed. Example — Vehicle auto diagnosis, Home smart temperature control, optimized traffic flow, predictive inventory maintenance etc.
Where there is connectivity or data transfer, there is every chance of data theft or data hack. Apart from the privacy laws and regulations intended to protect PII, the service companies are moving to a single, enterprise-wide privacy strategy with encryption, data masking, and constant access monitoring of data.
The FSM industry is ripe and ready to explode with innovations happening in the technology industry now. Next-Generation Platforms like, Oracle Field Service Cloud, have cool and important features that are needed for the field service industry of the future. Customer expectations with respect to field service are erupting — and the new era of customers is demanding very high personalized experiences.
The companies that will be successful are the ones that can meet the demands of the customers with the latest platforms and provide personalized solutions to customers. FSM will continue to be a quiet innovation leader — Let us wait & watch!
This blog was written by Mahesh Jeyakumar, Practice Director, CX Service at SoftClouds. Mahesh has extensive experience with CRM/CX Enterprise & Cloud Applications. He has a deep understanding of CRM/CX Platforms and has delivered multiple CX implementations globally for various industry verticals. Mahesh is very focused on quality customer relationships with a goal to transform complex problems to simple by creative thinking. High specialization in CX Service & Solutions.
SoftClouds is a recognized leader in CRM/CX transformation with experience in numerous Service Cloud Implementations with pre-configured best practice business processes for multiple verticals/domains.