Today’s customers expect more from field service organizations (FSOs). Service must be fast, transparent, and error-free. If the customer journey isn’t smooth, consumers make their feelings known online, where an organization’s reputation can become its strongest asset or most terrifying liability. It is estimated that 90 percent of consumers read online reviews, with most of those people trusting those reviews as much as personal recommendations. This translates to the bottom line. For every star increase in a Yelp rating, revenue for that business jumps 5 to 9 percent.
FSOs can improve response times, reduce errors, enhance the customer experience, and lower costs by leveraging service automation. This blog post examines how field service software helps FSOs by eliminating manual tasks associated with scheduling, reporting, and inventory management.
Advantages of Service Automation
FSOs should implement automated solutions to make complex contractor management and service workflows easier and more efficient. Roughly a third of FSOs have already begun digital transformation initiatives, and here are four reasons why.
4 Advantages of Service Automation
1. Increase Productivity
Not only do businesses want to do more but it feels like they must do more. “Keeping up with the Joneses” in business means matching the competition’s productivity and, ideally, exceeding it. Automation helps with both day-to-day productivity issues and long-range thinking about productivity. Moreover, productivity is often contingent on seamless scheduling.
Scheduling is more than syncing calendars, though that is not an easy feat when it comes to busy technician and customer schedules. Customers don’t just need whichever tech is available — they need the one in the right part of town and with the right skills and the right parts. Field service automation optimizes technician dispatching and travel routes.
Field service techs, often third-party contractors working for several field service organizations, are more likely to stick with or at least prioritize, the company that gives them clear schedules and instructions that set them up for success. With automation allowing them to work wherever they are, whenever, they can more easily catch up, get ahead, or go the extra step for their customers between jobs.
Automation allows businesses to pivot, no matter what world events throw at them. With the pandemic ongoing, remote services have become the default service-delivery method for more than half of field service companies. Service automation has made zero-touch service interaction possible and removed the need for face-to-face warranty claims processing. Likewise, it increases response times for 9 respondents out of 10, all of which allow for more calls to be completed each day.
2. Reduce Errors
Currently, a quarter of all service engagements end up needing more than one call by a field service technician. This may result in reduced customer satisfaction and low field technician productivity— adding up to lost time and revenue. This is especially egregious when errors take multiple calls for resolution. That’s where field service automation comes in.
Field service automation works hard from hiring through training. It helps vet field service technician applicants. It doesn’t just connect a technician with a job but the right tech, the one with the best skills, who has seen the issue at hand before, and who can think it through if the situation becomes sticky and still find success at the moment. And it provides proper training — even giving field service technicians access to training videos, diagrams, and manuals on-site, at the moment they need them.
Errors are reduced in other areas as well. When vendor information is changed in one place, it automatically updates across the system. When a customer calls in, everyone can see their entire file — past calls, invoice history, and best ways to contact. Automatic integration with other systems eliminates the possibility of duplicate data entries.
3. Improve Customer Experience
Customers are everything to a business. Positive relationships with customers foster not just positive reviews but brand loyalty. Almost 40 percent of executives name customer experience as their top priority, and rightly so. Treating customers well returns its value multifold — customers who feel happy, heard, and satisfied after their business interaction are six times more likely to buy, twelve times more likely to recommend, and five times more likely to forgive should something go wrong.
Automation increases customer engagement with the people they are most interested in communicating with field service technicians. Field service automation can include features from technician location alerts through self-service guidance (which the vast majority of customers expect companies to offer), including customer portals and chatbots. When a customer does need to speak to field service staff, they have access to direct email addresses and automated phone systems, allowing them more control. Likewise, the field service contact has real-time access to the customer’s complete file. Meeting customers with answers before they even ask questions will delight even the most stressed of them.
4. Reduce Costs
Companies have saved $20 million in annual costs by adopting field service automation. If we’re talking about automation for remote service, 81 percent of those in field service say that remote work is financially viable, and may even generate new lines of service revenue. Things that may seem small — inventory visibility — add up to big savings. With real-time inventories and order forms at their fingertips, even while in the field, technicians will put in fewer unnecessary orders (and stop hoarding parts in their vehicles).
Imagine if important but relatively mindless and time-consuming tasks were automated — what could businesses do with that reclaimed time? Beyond reducing immediate costs, the advantages of service automation include freeing up time to focus on business growth. Then, the technology’s business intelligence capabilities transform data — via dashboards, alerts, and reports — into KPI-fueled smart decision-making.
The best software in field service automation offers simple communication tools that connect staff both in-house and out in the field, working full time or on contract. Field service automation increases data accessibility from the cloud and offers integrated GPS to assist with scheduling and routing—providing intuitive interfaces with all devices, including mobile. It works seamlessly, blending features and removing organizational silos. Field service automation software lessens what humans struggle with and enhances what we excel at.
AI automation completes contact and billing paperwork with fewer errors than tired or distracted humans can. It sorts data, sees patterns, and draws tighter conclusions from it than humans can; and it can manage both inventory and compliance where humans might miss details. While automation chugs in the background, humans increase their service productivity and form stronger connections with customers. And when a service job or unexpected world events throw a curveball, well-trained humans with resources and data at their fingertips can pivot at the moment and still create a win for the company.
ServicePower has been recognized repeatedly as a Visionary in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management because our field service automation software supports the full field service lifecycle — no silos involved.
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