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Field Service Management: 2021 Digital Transformation Trends

What is field service management?

Field service management (FSM) is an umbrella term for how a company directs its field operations. Field service management extends to scheduling services, dispatching technicians, tracking job statuses, invoicing and billing, and interacting with clients. 

Importantly, field service management is a rapidly growing industry. Currently valued at $3 billion USD, the field service management industry is expected to grow to $5.1 billion USD by 2025. 

The impact of field service management

Structuring your business around the customer’s needs is paramount these days. By deploying frictionless, customer-centric field service management, your business will see an increase in customer satisfaction, boosted profits, and enhanced operational efficiency. 

Optimizing field service management doesn’t only help companies retain customers, it also helps them generate new business. In fact, in a recent poll, 51% of consumers report that they recommended a company to their family and friends after a good client care experience. By integrating best practices from emerging field service management trends, you can enrich your company’s brand value, transforming your business into a best-in-class competitor. 

Field service management: An industry in transition 

Digital transformation has recently seized the field service management industry. The days of the lone field technician armed with requisite tools, a phone, a notepad, and a pen are over. Streamlined workflows, which are now being integrated into field service management, are the key to operational superiority. 

The digital transformation of the field service management industry enables companies to deliver improved service offerings to customers and boost their ROI. The evolution of FSM is made possible by companies adopting technologies such as:

Field service management is also changing in response to modern consumer expectations. Recent consumer trends have seen users increasingly place customer experience above the value of the product. To respond to this switch in priorities, companies are focused on business areas like after-sales services as a way to distinguish their customer support. 

Field technician working

The rise of omnichannel integration in field service management

What does omnichannel mean? Omnichannel is a strategy that integrates communication channels. The integration of channels boosts customer experience by allowing organizations to connect with users across multiple points of contact such as social media, email, chatbot, and video assistance. Simply put, omnichannel is innovation through integration.

The ability to access, on a single dashboard, all the information transmitted between customer and agent across all touchpoints is key to providing comprehensive customer service. Whether the customer initiated contact by email or on Facebook, the customer’s entire ticket history is readily accessible to call center agents. Upon initiating contact, the increased customer-centric knowledge gathered from the varied contact points immediately gives agents the full context of the customer’s situation. This in turn empowers the agent, allowing him or her to get to work without delay.

How does omnichannel support add value to field service management? Omnichannel support adds tremendous value by enriching customer relations. Omnichannel technology, such as the integration of video calls and chat features, deconstructs barriers to communication, giving the user an unprecedented connection to an organization. With omnichannel communication, businesses are able to provide the users with what they value most: fast, simple problem resolution as a result of clear, open pathways of communication. 

Omnichannel communication is quickly becoming a cornerstone of field service management. To that point, a recent Microsoft survey found that 59% of consumers used three or more channels to get their questions answered. With customers switching from channel to channel, being able to transform disparate touchpoints into cohesive customer service is a must.

Optimizing FSM boosts customer loyalty 

A well-run field service management operation prioritizes the customer. By avoiding common frustrations, businesses are able to create better experiences which increase customer loyalty. 

First contact resolution (FCR), for example, is a KPI connected to customer loyalty and measures whether an issue is resolved after a single interaction with a customer. According to a Microsoft survey, a majority of consumers said that the most important aspect of a quality customer service experience was getting their issue resolved in a single interaction. 

Modern customer demands are crystal clear: provide rapid yet thorough service and loyalty will increase. 

Companies like ViiBE provide technology that targets user satisfaction KPIs like first contact resolution. ViiBE also tracks net promoter score (NPS), a metric describing the likelihood of a customer recommending a product to a friend. 

ViiBE’s technology seamlessly integrates with best-in-class CRM tools such as Zendesk and Salesforce making it a one-stop-shop for handling CRM-related field service management operations. 

Field service management and AR remote assistance 

AR remote assistance is a tool that can be used to optimize both internal operations and B2C functions. 

Internally, AR remote assistance has a proven track record of decreasing truck rolls and operating costs. AR remote assistance connects a customer to a call center agent via an AR-enabled real-time video. The agent has the ability to interact with the customer’s environment, enhancing their ability to navigate the customer through the problem-solving process. 

AR remote assistance boasts high first call resolution rates and often eliminates the need to dispatch an expert on-site, decreasing operational costs. In the event that a technician is dispatched and runs into a problem, he or she can use that same remote assistance platform to contact a specialist. That specialist can then help the technician navigate the issue and find a resolution from the call center, thereby avoiding a second, redundant dispatch. 

The use of AR remote assistance also has important implications for improving customer satisfaction. When scheduling a technician visit, it’s not uncommon to be told that the tech will arrive sometime in a five-hour window, effectively cancelling the customer’s productivity for that day. With AR remote assistance, the problem resolution takes place at a time convenient to the customer and is overall a more fluid process.

Utilizing ticket tracking within FSM

Properly managing customers’ tickets is paramount to maintaining consistent customer service. In a recent study, a majority of respondents said that support agents only occasionally had access to their service history. This disconnect between the customer’s information and the agent’s knowledge can hurt satisfaction levels. Optimizing this white space is a must. 

Ticket tracking empowers agents by providing them with a complete dossier on each customer. This also increases customer satisfaction by creating a personalized service experience. 

Take, for example, a customer who’s treadmill has re-broken. By accessing the customer’s previous ticket, the technician can see the customer’s history as well as what previous technicians have done to solve the reccuring treadmill problem. The ticket information can inform the technician of what did and didn’t work in previous encounters, so he or she can make the most informed decision on how to resolve the present problem. This spares the agent from redundant work, ultimately saving time which is beneficial for operational costs and customer satisfaction. 

Technician inspecting equipment

How knowledge management improves field service management 

High turnover rates in the field service industry can plague companies and leave holes in their field operations. Within the last year, a reported 11% of field service employees, mostly older specialists, left their job, taking their experienced knowledge with them. However, such burdens are avoidable. 

By archiving expert knowledge, field service companies can ease the burden of high turnover rates, decrease costs spent on training, and empower rookie field agents. With access to archived expert knowledge, a rookie technician in the field has access to all relevant cases, enabling the technician to use past information to inform his or her current actions. Access to such a vast reservoir of knowledge transforms even the least experienced technician into a capable field specialist. 

Knowledge archiving systems are also useful tools for training rookie field operators. By watching pre-recorded videos, trainees can learn directly from experts without needing the experts to be present. Additionally, by saving case information, companies can shorten training cycles. Trainees can be field-operational more quickly to independently manage real cases. 

Conclusion: embrace the digital transformation 

There have been more changes to the field service management industry in the past 12 months than there have been in the last 12 years and this trend is only accelerating. Thanks to the digital transformation sweeping field service management, companies are lowering operational costs while improving customer satisfaction.

Embracing new technologies has gone from a service perk to a must-have. Companies that don’t offer features such as omnichannel support or ticket tracking risk falling behind tech-savvy competitors. In order to stay ahead of the competition, using technology to optimize your field service management is imperative. 

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