The Internet of Things (IoT) is completely transforming workforce management and the way field service is delivered. Traditionally, field service has been delivered in a reactive, linear operation: Product breaks down; Homeowner calls the retailer; Retailer schedules an appointment through a field service organization (FSO); and a technician shows up to perform diagnostics. If the part required to fix the product is on the truck, it’s fixed. If not, the part is ordered and another appointment is scheduled. The timeframe for the entire process varies from service call to service call, and centers around the needs of the FSO, not the needs of the customer.
But that’s all changing. New smart home devices—as part of the IoT smart home—require a greater level of sophistication in the maintenance and repair process. Many of those IoT home devices are designed to self-identify impending issues. Now urgency drives the process with the need to get a field service technician deployed before a full breakdown occurs. In this scenario, the diagnostics are already done, eliminating the first four steps of the traditional service call process. This enables FSOs to schedule more service calls each day and to schedule them sooner. When customers don’t have to wait as long for service, and when their technician arrives on time and prepared, it elevates the entire customer experience.
This simplified service and maintenance process is one of the more enticing features that motivates homeowners and businesses to invest in smart systems. Imagine their disappointment if they still have to tolerate an outdated, linear service call experience.
Moving off “go”
Fifty-two percent of field service organizations still use manual workflows. While most understand the need for change, they may not fully comprehend the urgency—or the opportunity—of moving quickly. More than 50% agree that having an optimized scheduling system is critical to operations, yet 46% see cost as a significant concern. As well, many field service managers are already overwhelmed with administrative tasks and find the idea of implementing new field service management software or systems daunting, adding countless more hours to their already heavy workload.
But what they fail to understand is the significant cost savings and growth opportunities that come with field service management software, especially in the area of field service scheduling.
Smart Scheduling Technology
Everything an FSO needs to thrive in the era of the IoT is already available. The best place to start is to replace manual, paper-driven systems with a field service management solution that leverages the same innovation that runs the IoT: Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI-enabled “smart” scheduling delivers the highest level of efficiency at every stage of the service workflow. Smart scheduling also allows for unlimited transactional volumes, which supports a company’s long-term growth strategy.
Smart scheduling can boost productivity by 68%
Productivity and costs
Smart scheduling removes scheduling constraints based on service rep availability and allows for faster, more agile deployment and route optimization. This is important in today’s more hybrid workforce model that includes both employed and contracted technicians. In the world of IoT, some of those technicians may even be stationary, performing repairs and maintenance virtually, which adds yet another layer of complexity to field service management.
Smart scheduling allows for better utilization of field service technicians. In traditional field service workflows, booking changes and cancelations can cause a good day to go bad very quickly. Reps are delayed, the needed equipment isn’t on the truck, and customer complaints escalate. Smart scheduling can prevent bad days from happening before they begin. When changes happen, Smart scheduling can quickly reconfigure the existing schedules to accommodate all changes in the most efficient and impactful way.
Being able to dynamically deploy the right person at the right time increases productivity and reduces costs such as paid down time. Having geolocation of inventory means the right parts can be attained faster without having to manage inefficient duplicate warehouse runs. Smart scheduling even monitors traffic to help reps get where they need to be faster.
AI enables real-time optimization of scheduling operations. Rather than reviewing reports of past events, AI allows FSOs to continuously monitor operations from any web-enabled device in any location. Having more detailed insight allows for better, faster decision-making and immediate resolution of issues. And the increased visibility allows field service managers to more easily identify and address problematic trends.
The customer experience
As IoT home devices become savvier and more connected, customers will expect a savvier and more connected service experience as well. Smart scheduling ensures the mobile technician arrives on time with the right parts, the right resources and the right skills for the job. This increases a company’s first time fix rate and elevates customer satisfaction. Businesses experience less down time, which impacts their revenue. And homeowners are more likely to provide positive reviews and word-of-mouth referrals. Building brand awareness and a reputation for service excellence is essential in the field service industry. Delivering an outstanding customer experience is key to achieving that goal.
A new approach to profitability
Seventy-six percent of FSOs say they find it challenging to remain profitable. Cutting costs, putting off IT investments, and pushing technicians to do more with less will only fuel their challenges. What if those same FSOs took a different approach? We live in an era of rapid change, especially in the area of technological innovation. Why not embrace these changes and apply these same innovations to our own industry? Leveraging AI-enabled field service scheduling software presents a significant opportunity for FSOs wanting to lead the way in the new IoT.
To learn more about Smart scheduling and how it can benefit your organization, contact ServicePower today.