Field service organizations are well aware of the benefits of mobile technology, having been among its earliest adopters. But deploying technology for its own sake generates limited value, which is why top performers are putting more time and effort into strategies to convert their technology investments into measurable gains.
The goal is to raise customer satisfaction levels. The most successful organizations regard customer satisfaction as their best measure of success, not financial or operational goals. So when deploying mobile devices and apps, whatever operational improvements they trigger, ultimately the priority is to deliver excellent service to keep customers happy.
Mobile technology is unquestionably transformative, but real change doesn’t happen without careful planning, smart execution, and ongoing evaluation of outcomes for further improvement. Best-in-class organizations keep the following goals in their sights as they implement and refine mobile strategies:
- Employ technology for real-time field visibility and back-office connectivity
- Empower field techs by keeping them connected
- Create value through increased productivity and improved customer relationships
“The service world is changing about as rapidly as the technology leveraged to support it,” Aberdeen reports in its research paper “The Mobile Technician: The Evolution of the Connection in 2015.” Savvy companies are leveraging technology to set themselves apart from the competition.
For instance, Aberdeen found that a key strategy for 69 percent of best-in-class organizations this year is to provide field techs with service-related information in real time. A close second (62 percent) is to improve data integration between the field and back-office systems.
The idea is to fine-tune operations to get all parts of the organization – from the field to management to billing and finance – working together to achieve excellence and maximize customer satisfaction. As mobile data flows in from the field, it delivers valuable information that serves the dual purpose of tracking the day’s progress while providing insights for improvements.
The significant costs related to equipment downtime (a capital asset such as an excavator) has led field service providers to adopt a more preventative and predictive maintenance solution as opposed to previously offering break/fix service structures.
Connectivity with back-office systems including ERP, CRM and billing creates business agility, making the organization more responsive in addressing customer demands, adjusting to changing market dynamics and beating the competition.
In the next 5 years, Gartner predicts more than 25 billion devices beyond smartphones and tablets to be connected via the internet of things. For field service organizations, connecting equipment with technician’s mobile devices and the back-office in real-time is a necessity for boosting revenue.
The mobile revolution enables field techs to stay connected at all times. Sixty-nine percent of best-in-class organizations in the Aberdeen study have the ability to communicate directly with drivers and field techs, while 68 percent provide remote network access for field workers through a mobile VPN. Almost half – 48 percent – deliver training through mobile technology, and 36 percent are providing verifications of completed work through video and photo captures to customers offsite.
Real-time mobile connectivity is profoundly changing service delivery. When field techs have questions, they can get immediate answers through their company’s knowledge base without having to drive to the office or pick up the phone. This boosts efficiency and first-time resolution rates. Increasingly, the information that techs can access from the field includes training materials such as manuals and videos. New information is available on demand.
Mobile technology isn’t just changing service; it’s changing the technician as well. No longer just someone who can make repairs, a field tech is also a knowledgeable and trusted advisor. With so much information at their fingertips, techs can do their jobs better and educate customers on proper equipment use and maintenance.
Most organizations today have mobile initiatives for field service, and most have had them for a couple of years. These organizations understand the importance of mobile tools in boosting an organization’s overall value by focusing on productivity, efficiency and service quality.
Customers notice enhanced service quality and, in turn, reward organizations by giving them higher customer satisfaction marks. Customer satisfaction fosters brand loyalty, which translates to long-term relationships. For a field service organization, nothing is more important than knowing customers will keep coming back because they appreciate the service you deliver.