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Is Your Field Service Team Ready for Smart Home Connectivity?

The long-anticipated “smart home” is here.

Swedish research firm Berg Insight estimates there will be more than 63 million smart homes in the US by 2022. Household penetration of smart devices is estimated at 33.2% in 2019 and is expected to reach 53.9% by 2023. To meet the anticipated growth in smart device adoption, field service technicians need to be educated and equipped with the advanced knowledge and the appropriate resources to service these devices and networks.

Already Using Field Service Management Software?

You may have already convinced your executive team to invest in field service management software to better manage service calls using connected, smart devices. But to see real results, it's crucial tou have buy-in from your field service technicians who may be somewhat resistant to change.

Embracing change will be easier for some than for others. According to an article published by Psychology Today, some workers are so fearful of change that they will actually sabotage the situation, even if they agree it’s for the best. The article provides helpful suggestions to promote change and to ease workers’ fears:

  • Demonstrate how the old ways were falling short by using actual examples.
  • Provide as much detail as possible about how and why new processes will be implemented.
  • Show empathy throughout your communications so workers know you value their opinions and understand their fears.
  • Watch for signs such as missed meetings, unmet deadlines, and undelivered messages as these can be reflective of “covert opposition.”
  • Don’t punish employees or force them to admit their possibly unconscious motives, but do express how such pushback impedes progress.

Use the following  three proven tactics to help your field service team embrace and utilize new technologies like field service automation, digital and mobile communications, and inventory management.

1.   Develop Technicians’ Knowledge and Ability to Use New Field Service Management Software

Customers expect that field service technicians who show up at their homes are knowledgeable experts in areas like IoT, the Connected Home, and smart device technologies. To ensure this happens, you’ll need to provide adequate and ongoing training, support, and professional development. As the sophistication of smart home devices and networks continue to rise, so too must your technicians’ skill sets.

Your technicians must feel confident in their ability to understand and provide service repairs for complex issues that can arise in connected home networks. Technicians must understand how to proactively gather data before dispatch to minimize service times and provide a better customer experience.

  •   Building technician knowledge will reduce ineffective, reactive maintenance practices and create opportunities for additional service sales.
  •   Improving first time fix rates will save your organization money, reduce customer wait times, and enhance the service experience.
  •   Highly skilled and knowledgeable technicians reduce extra work orders and billable hours.

Today’s field service software uses real-time, predictive analytics to equip your field service technicians with the information they need to identify which connected devices need servicing. Armed with this insight, technicians can more effectively leverage their repair skills and close service calls faster.

2. Demonstrate Ways Field Service Management Software Makes Technicians’ Lives Easier

Field service companies that adopt field service management software are more likely to optimize their operations and grow their business. Field service software allows your field service team to:

  •     Use smartphones and tablets to more easily create estimates.
  •     Find customer locations and identify the fastest routes using GPS.
  •     Identify and gather needed inventory prior to appointments.
  •     View client service histories on their mobile devices.
  •     Submit claims and take customer payments on site.
  •     Offer service warranties or set up the next appointment on the spot.
  •     Be assigned to service appointments based on their skillsets.

Automatingmanual processes has become a differentiator for successful field service operations. Having the ability to quickly analyze and leverage insightful data enables field service organizations to access important product registration, work history, and customer data in real time, which leads to higher first time fix rate and faster job completion. As a result, technicians can more effectively service clients and offer higher value sales and service options.

The field service industry is saying goodbye to manual workflows. 

We are no longer living in a world of manual workflows, spending hours analyzing multiple spreadsheets to understand historical data trends. Technology used just a few years ago is obsolete in comparison to what IoT, Artificial Intelligence, and decision optimization can do today. 

Field service management software will automate repair and maintenance-related decisions and will launch service calls without human intervention. Field service organizations that are prepared for this new reality will gain a competitive advantage, while optimizing operations and maximizing profits.

3. Implement Methods that Lead to Higher Adoption Rates with New Technology

Investing in new technology is not an easy decision for most organizations, no matter the industry. Once the commitment is made and implementation is complete, you may encounter a roadblock you didn’t expect: employee engagement. Below, explore proven methods to increase employee adoption of new technology.

Choose a solution with employees in mind. 

 If technology is easy to use, employees are more likely to adopt it. If the user interface or associated workflows make their jobs harder, adoption will be an ongoing struggle. It’s important to choose solutions from the perspective of the employees. If possible, include employees in the selection or evaluation process to instill a sense of ownership and empowerment long before implementation.

Create internal champions. 

While employees may not trust management, they are likely to trust their peers. Identify and engage workers who are already demonstrating positive influences on their co-workers. Acting as “early adopters,” these champions can evangelize the benefits of the new technology to other employees, calming fears and driving faster adoption.

Make training resources readily available. 

For some employees, the failure to adopt may stem from the belief that they won’t be able to understand how to use the new technology. They may be afraid they’ll make mistakes or be too slow, resulting in embarrassment, demotion, or even losing their jobs. Alleviate those fearsby providing clear instructions on how to usethe new technology. Consider creating self-directed videos for each module, as employees can watch these videos at their own convenience, as often as needed.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make sure employees understand what’s in it for them. This aligns with the second recommendation above: Demonstrate how the technology makes technicians’ lives easier. With today’s new field service management software, this should be relatively easy. AI-enabled dispatch, smarter scheduling, and mobile enablement are all designed to optimize workflows, streamline service calls, and enhance customer engagement.

Putting it all together

When technicians—employed or contracted—come to work each day, they want to know they have the tools to be successful. No one wants to show up late to a service appointment lacking the right parts, only to be greeted by an already frustrated, dissatisfied customer. Conversely, when technicians know they’ll have the skills to do the job, the tools to be successful, and the resources to be effective, they will perform at their highest level of contribution. When that happens, the organization, the technician and the customer win. In an age of the IoT, field service organizations simply cannot settle for anything less.

To learn how you can build a field service team of technicians that is fully equipped with the right tools, the right skills, and the right resources to make your organization a success in the new era of the IoT, contact ServicePower today.

Read more about servicing IoT connected smart homes.

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