The World at Their FingertipsEmpower Your Field Technicians with Information and Feedback

The face of field service has changed drastically from the traditional model. Once upon a time, when a company received a service call, a receptionist scheduled the field technician who arrived within an agreed upon window of time, fixed the problem, and moved on to the next job. This technician retained a remarkable depth of knowledge for a specific product line and could fix almost any problem on the spot.

But those days are behind us. Today, service delivery is managed on a global scale. Technology is complex and changing rapidly. Highly skilled technicians may be sent around the world. Customers have become accustomed to immediate solutions with 24/7service. And competition is such that costs must be watched and trimmed at every possible turn.

Highly successful field service organizations utilize upgraded technology and tools, sophisticated scheduling techniques, mobile information sources, high-level training strategies, and methods of communication unheard of just a decade ago. They gather information at all levels of customer interaction, using it not only to resolve technical issues, but to proactively forecast and allocate resources, evaluate the efficacy of their processes, and intercept possible service issues.

Information and Teamwork: Two Keys to Success

It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. The same could be said about delivering quality field service to today’s customer! Information, along with insight and feedback provided by an extended family of team members, is necessary to maintain a well-oiled fleet of field technicians. Based on a recent study by the Aberdeen Group, here are some recommendations:

Ÿ The Mobile Technician: On-site mobile devices help technicians navigate the constantly changing landscape while on the go and out in the field. A wealth of “shared knowledge” and training is available via social networking sites and blogs. Up-to-the-minute reports on recalls, warranties, patches, regulations, work instructions and other solutions can be posted as they arise. One example of cutting edge technology is the prospect of using smart glasses , such as Google Glass. Field technicians may someday use them to quickly communicate with dispatch from anywhere, video chat to receive instruction from company experts, and have hands-free access to information while diagnosing and repairing a complex problem.

Ÿ Two-way Communication: Technicians in the field can also gather valuable data for “the team”. Is there an issue that engineering, design, sales or other technicians should know about? Additionally, real-time data provide useful metrics regarding the time and resources needed for each service resolution. Parts can be tracked immediately and seamlessly. The front office can use this information to communicate promptly and accurately with the customer regarding job status, completion forecasts, invoicing, etc.

Ÿ Listen to the Machine: Most equipment now provides maintenance data and can even warn of a possible failure. Technicians can and should have access to as much information as possible, prior to their visit, so that an issue can be resolved more swiftly. Top field service companies also tap into this data to proactively schedule preventative maintenance calls.

Ÿ Knowledge Transfer: Legacy among the workforce is vital, as well as money in the bank. Don’t assume that managers have all the answers. Develop processes whereby legacy experience is shared from technician to technician and region to region in order to build on the valuable body of wisdom acquired by those on the front line.

The Value of Insight and Feedback

Information gathered from service calls can be used to forecast service demand and allocate resources. It can also be used to analyze and improve processes. Top performing field service companies are constantly checking the success of their processes against metrics data provided from the field. By using data and feedback that is readily available, they can track the success of resource allocation forecasting, rate of “first-time fix” events, and customer satisfaction responses. This allows mangers to tailor training programs that specifically meet the needs of the field team while improving customer satisfaction.