We’re living through exciting times in field service management. Because today there isn’t a single sector escaping digital disruption. The swift rise of services like Uber, Amazon Prime Now, and Airbnb have changed customer service experience expectations more than we could have ever imagined.
In 2014, Gartner reported that 89% of companies expected to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience by 2016. Now that 2017 is in full swing, it’s obvious that field service organizations struggle to keep up.
In our own research, we discovered that the vast majority of customers now expect to receive service communication via “Uberized” channels, including social media, real-time mobile, interactive voice recognition (IVR), or supplier websites. Despite this expectation, just 5% of customers reported receiving “Uberized” service interactions.
To help organizations keep up, we have outlined seven field service management trends that stand to re-shape service this year, and beyond.
1. Aging Workforce Transition Addressed with Knowledge Management Systems
As early as 2014, 70% of service organizations indicated that a loss of talent and knowledge will be a major challenge in coming years. The problem continues to grow. This year, innovative field service organizations are tapping experienced and aging workers to ensure true knowledge transfer takes place. By embedding legacy knowledge into comprehensive digital knowledge management systems (KCS), savvy service organizations will empower up-and-coming techs to learn faster.
2. Mobile Experiences as Key Service Differentiator
More than 80% of Internet users own smartphones. This means developing mobile experiences is an integral part of any field service strategy. As service providers scale mobile investments in 2017, they’ll see huge gains in service worker communication, real-time issue resolution, and customer satisfaction. As more customers demand “Uberized” communication, field service organizations delivering real-time mobile communication with customers will net major loyalty and profit.
3. Augmented Reality Still Hot Air
Augmented reality glasses shipments are forecast to reach more than 5 million by 2020. But by and large these devices continue to be catered toward consumers, and not service providers. According to VDC Research, attention directed towards augmented reality in service will continue to swell through 2017. But major technology challenges and cost hurdles remain. In 2017, we’ll see significant technology improvements, but little field service adoption.
4. Field Service Automation Becomes Reality
Unified cloud-based field service tools for automating dispatch, scheduling, invoicing, and even web-based customer interactions have all been available for years. Although, few service providers have unlocked their full potential. As more service providers catch up in 2017, service automation will become a reality, helping organizations become increasingly efficient and productive.
5. The Value of Visual Collaboration is Fully Realized
According to Aberdeen, best-in-class field service organizations are 72% more likely than peers to utilize collaborative video technology. Across the board, this enables higher first-time fix rates and asset uptime. As field service organizations face higher customer expectations, and more challenging service scenarios in 2017, visual collaboration will continue to be a major service driver.
6. The Value of IoT Takes Wing
The Internet of Things (IoT) is defined as the networking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, and other objects containing electronics, sensors, software, or actuators that allow them to exchange data over wireless networks. In field service, customer devices, equipment, and technician hardware are becoming embedded with sensors, allowing newfound insights to drive greater efficiency.
Through both structured and unstructured data, field service companies can utilize artificial intelligence, machine learning, and customer data to improve service exponentially. Field service innovators will fully realize the value of IoT in 2017.
7. Wearables Gain Deeper Adoption
According to Gartner, wearable device shipments are skyrocketing, with smartwatches projected to grow 48% through 2017. Wearables will gain deeper adoption this year, as service providers realize the huge value in providing hands-free communication for field techs while on the road, and on the job.
Technology continues to evolve and reshape how field service organizations both connect with customers, and achieve resolution. While 2017 is already shaping up to be a year of big changes, it is also a year of major transition for service organizations.
Change is tough, and requires aligning the right KPIs to back up big decisions. Curious how you can get started? Check out Moneyball Metrics: 4 Service Optimization KPIs & How to Improve Each. Or learn more about our field service management software.