Can Wearables Provide a Cure to First-Time Fix Rates and Customer Service Woes?
Wearable technology is sweeping into our lives, woven into the things we wear, placed on the bridge of our nose, and wrapped around the soles of our feet. Some of this tech is for pure consumer pleasure, like garments that change color according to your emotions. On the other end of the spectrum are enterprise-focused wearables aimed at providing seamless and mostly hands-free access to cyberspace and real-time information systems.
While the landscape continues to evolve, now is the time for executives to take notice and plan for the future. Gartner predicts smartglasses will bring additional innovation and efficiency to the likes of manufacturing, field service, retail and healthcare, saving the sector more than $1 billion a year by 2017. The firm notes, “the greatest savings in field service will come from diagnosing and fixing problems more quickly and without needing to bring additional experts to remote sites.”
How do we transition from a place of novel new gadgets being introduced daily, to an ecosystem where wearables are integrated into the fabric of a well-planned IT roadmap to gain those efficiencies and provide a better customer experience?
First, start with solutions that can bring the most rapid ROI and are easiest to integrate into current systems. For example, with mobile deployments, service organizations have been able to:
- Increase productivity and safety
- Reduce repetitive and mundane work
- Empower workers to take on more responsibility and initiative
- Create ways for workers to interact with peers and customers in real-time
However, workers today still have to physically hold a mobile device to achieve most of the above benefits. If organizations add smartglasses, cameras and even sensors that connect job information to weather updates, the industry will be poised for even greater success.
The use of wearble cameras, for example, could further enhance real-time collaboration, providing field workers the ability to share their view with experts (no matter where their location) to more quickly make repairs or handle emergency situations. It also presents an opportunity to level the knowledge gap between seasoned employees and more junior staff. For example, if the mobile worker needs to follow a series of steps (a procedure that a ten year veteran has memorized, but for which more junior staff need a guide), it’s much faster to say “next” or touch the wearable device and view instruction via smartglasses, than it is to manually hold or swipe a smartphone.
While CIOs and leaders of field service organizations need to understand what’s coming for wearables, the most important thing to remember is the ends, and not the means. Service organizations should not ask, “do we need this wearable?” each time a new product is introduced. Instead, understand which products will enable them to provide better and faster service, fix productivity killers like repeat visits, and in the end deliver an amazing customer experience.