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How to Use IoT in the Field Service Industry

The field service industry is rapidly changing as the digital transformation renders manual field service processes and workflows obsolete. Staying abreast of these various technological developments is critical to the success of your business, but it can be difficult to know which trends are more important to recognize than others. Moreover, the impact of this technological investment is quite high. By accidentally investing in a temporary fad while missing out on the real deal, you can end up wasting your time, money, and technological resources all while your competitors are propelling forward. 

This blog post will explain why the Internet of Things (IoT) is not a passing fad, and how it can be used to improve your business in the field service industry. Let’s start by clarifying what IoT actually is so that you can make an informed and data-driven decision about your technological stack. 

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)? 

IoT is a vast network of interconnected digital devices that are able to communicate and exchange data. Simply put, these things can be any device that connects to the internet and can switch on and off. This includes a range of devices such as cell phones, laptops, washing machines, dishwashers, and much more. 

This interconnectivity represents a significant shift in the way business can be done, rewriting how relationships are conducted between people-to-people, people-to-things, and things-to-things. Likewise, the influential consulting firm McKinsey predicts that the worldwide number of IoT-connected devices is projected to increase to 43 billion by 2023. 

Moreover, further growth for IoT will continue to be possible as a result of new sensors, more computing power, and reliable mobile connectivity. With over 200 known applications for IoT in enterprise settings already, it’s no surprise that IoT is impacting the way business can be conducted in the field service industry today.

How Can IoT be Used in the Field Services?

Currently, there is a vast array of interconnected digital devices being employed within the field service industry, such as company computers, technician mobile devices, equipment, and customer appliances. By leveraging the interconnectivity of this technology, field service companies can begin to use IoT technology to their advantage. To this extent, there are two main applications that IoT technology facilitates in field services: predictive maintenance and remote service

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance is a proactive approach to field service management that goes beyond the traditional reactive approach of conducting one-off repairs when a device or system fails. Instead, predictive maintenance uses IoT technology to remotely monitor equipment conditions. By continuously collecting data and communicating in real-time when established parameters are out of tolerance, technicians can be alerted about the need for maintenance or repairs before an issue actually occurs. This means that field service companies can resolve maintenance needs while a system or device is still functioning, precluding unplanned downtime or service delays. Leveraging IoT triggers is a revolutionary way to conduct business, especially considering that service in the field service industry has historically been pre-scheduled or at the request of a customer that is already dealing with an inconvenient issue. 

Remote Service Workflows 

In the field services, remote service is a digitally-driven workflow that allows field technicians to provide effective solutions to customers virtually. By employing mobile devices, interconnected equipment, and field service management software, field service companies can use IoT and field service management technology in tandem to troubleshoot customer issues from anywhere. For instance, real-time data provided by IoT devices enables technicians to diagnose service issues virtually, while field service management software facilitates real-time communication through a seamless customer portal. In addition, state-of-the-art Virtual Reality (VR) capabilities are further enhancing the remote service experience. 

What are the Benefits of IoT for Field Service Organizations?

Utilizing IoT technology can be greatly beneficial for field service organizations, and should not be overlooked in 2021. In fact, predictive maintenance and remote service are two of the top five trends in the field service industry in 2021. While this on its own illustrates how influential IoT is in the field service space, let’s take a closer look at the top benefits of using IoT within your field service organization. 

Improve Customer Experience

It’s no secret that customer experience is a critical component for success these days. According to industry research, 81% of executives place the customer experience as one of their top three priorities. And for good reason, with a positive emotional experience, customers are six times more likely to buy, twelve times more likely to recommend the company, and five times more likely to forgive a mistake. 

However, there are numerous ways that field service organizations can accidentally ruin their customer experience. For instance, 17% of field service organizations don’t measure their first-time fix rates; conversely, 57% of customers would like better first-time fix rates. This discrepancy illustrates how the needs of customers are not always being met, which is detrimental to the customer experience.

Leveraging IoT technology can help field service organizations make sure they are exceeding their customer’s expectations with the best customer experience possible. In fact, IoT technology enables companies to proactively service appliances or systems, prevent unplanned downtime for critical devices, and empower customers with virtual service options. In other words, IoT helps remove friction from the service workflow caused by manual and outdated processes, ensuring that your customers' needs are met. And with predictive maintenance, sometimes their needs are met even before they are aware that a need has arisen in the first place. As modern field service customers begin to expect this kind of personalized and seamless service, your field service organization needs a cohesive technology stack that is equipped to meet their modern demands.

Increase Profitability

Inefficient service workflows can be immensely harmful to your business, wasting time, money, and resources. For instance, as mentioned before, repeat service visits can ruin your company’s first-time fix rate and negatively impact the customer experience. This is financially destructive because improving your customer experience is a significant factor regarding customer retention and long-term profitability. 

In addition to the financial harm caused by a negative customer experience, repeat service visits and unplanned downtime require additional technician hours, service equipment, and travel expenses. They’re also a lot more common when a technician doesn’t have real-time access to device diagnostics, which IoT technology provides. When profitability is top of mind, there’s no room for ill-prepared service technicians or inefficient company practices. By making your service workflow more interconnected and intelligent with IoT technology and leveraging data-driven decision-making, you are setting your company up for financial success in the future. 

Conclusion

IoT technology is transforming the way field service companies are providing service to their customers, and it doesn’t look like this technological trend is going away anytime soon. In fact, IoT devices are becoming more prevalent than ever before. 

Field service companies need to start embracing this technology as soon as possible and can do so by leveraging field service management software that facilitates predictive maintenance and remote service management. In doing so, they can reap the numerous benefits of IoT technology in the field service industry, including improving their customer experience and increasing their profitability. 

Interested in IoT solutions for field service management? Explore ServicePower’s cutting-edge IoT solutions.

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