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The Nexus of Forces & How Social Media Facilitates Field Service

The Gartner Group, in coining the term, Nexus of Forces, defined it as “the convergence and mutual reinforcement of social, mobility, cloud and information patterns that drive new business scenarios.”

In today’s technology-driven paradigms and business models, mobility, cloud and information are clearly drivers of new business scenarios. Of these technologies, mobility is likely the most dominant driver in the current environment. Less obvious, perhaps is the inclusion of social. However, any confusion engendered by the inclusion of social media in the Nexus of Forces, is quickly cleared up with a simple clarification.

Social media for business scenarios include both public and private platforms. If you consider that social media is defined more by the behavior of users than by whether the platform is public or private, it is easy to consider any platform that facilitates sharing and other collaborative behaviors as a social network.

Consequently, even if a platform or application is only used by company employees, while the content may differ, the user behaviors are exactly the behaviors seen on public social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, or LinkedIn.

While corporate intranets have been important platforms for file and information sharing, corporations have been slower to adopt broader-based platforms, apps and capabilities extending to field service personnel through mobile devices. However, as technologies have evolved, and use of personal devices (BYOD) by workers has become more widely accepted, business opportunities involving field services staff are finally being seen as significant.

Growth opportunities

Field services is one of the growth areas for Nexus of Forces opportunities on a number of fronts, all of which can both lower operating costs and increase revenue growth. However, as compelling as the financial aspects of these opportunities are, often it is the qualitative dimensions like customer loyalty, team dynamics, and corporate culture where corporations are seeing the greatest, long-term transformations.

With the informational, cloud and mobile aspects of the Nexus of Forces firmly entrenched in enterprise operations, it is the social media dimension that is driving the field services opportunities. Let’s look as some of the ways social media can facilitate field service organizations.

The context

Field service organizations can be found in a wide swath of corporate, governmental and nonprofit enterprises. From plumbers to police forces to pediatric healthcare professionals operating in the wake of natural disasters, field service is an aspect of business that is extremely varied. As complex and diverse as the needs different field service groups may be, they all share similar needs for social media applications that facilitate sharing, collaborating, or accessing information, often from multiple sources, in real-time.

From where to when

Scheduling is often one of the dominant concerns for managers of field service teams. GPS information on a heads-up dashboard of a geographical area can show the location of all team members at a glance. When fresh situations requiring immediate attention arise, a quick conversation, often involving multiple team members in a conference call or video chat can allow schedulers to redeploy personnel to adapt to emerging needs.

Collaboration

Communications between team members in the field or between the field and the office on how to resolve a certain problem can prevent costly return visits for service.

Training opportunities

Documenting real-world situations and having them in a knowledge-base for immediate access and reference can accelerate the training program for new personnel and provide resources for future in-the-field scenarios.

Surveys and reviews

Presenting the customer with an opportunity to take a quick survey or post a review while on site can lead to gathering information on customer needs as well as gathering material to promote brand awareness.

Expedited response time

In the case of negative reviews or survey responses, automated notifications to managers or integrated customer service teams for immediate escalation and response can often be the difference between a potentially poor customer experience and a satisfied customer.

Remote access capabilities

In-house service personnel with capabilities to login to a remote device and troubleshoot it while talking on the phone to a customer can often eliminate the need for a field service call. Not all remotely deployed or installed equipment is suitable for remote access, but whenever it makes sense, this scenario should be considered.

The operative word in the field service framework is service. Social media are enabling and facilitating field service organizations to bring service into sharper focus for customers. In a competitive business environment, social media can be the difference that differentiates your field service organization.

 

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