Paul Whitelam | 05.17.18
Summary >

Any seasoned field service professional knows that execution on the day of service doesn’t just happen. The actual service delivery is the culmination of careful planning and decisions made days, weeks, or even months in advance. But even the best laid plans can be disrupted by unexpected factors—traffic, extreme weather, customer cancellations. While there’s always going to be a gap between what you hope to accomplish and what actually gets done, you can shrink this gap by factoring in real data to address what’s actually happening in real time.

Ensuring efficiency and effectiveness on the day of service requires planning with real data—not estimates—to provide meaningful foresight. We refer to these real, actionable insights as actual intelligence, and it’s delivered through a combination of real-world experience and state-of-the-art computer science. Actual intelligence yields real operational intelligence and measurable impact to service businesses.

To illustrate, let’s consider a few of the benefits that actual intelligence brings to field service organizations.

Increased Productivity and Efficiency

Imagine Dave, a service technician, is finishing up an on-site network maintenance task and getting ready to head to his next job. The travel time to the next site was originally calculated to be about 15 minutes, based on historical traffic data for that time of day. But there was a car accident en route, causing a roadblock that will surely lead to a delay. Without this insight, the tech is at risk of missing an SLA, disappointing a customer, and starting a ripple effect on the rest of the schedule.

Yet armed with real, live traffic updates, a dispatcher—or automated field service management solution— can reassign the job to another technician with a clearer route to the job. Now, instead of spending idle time in traffic, Dave can be productive elsewhere. And with the entire field team always on the most efficient route possible, there might even be time in the day to complete more jobs.

More Reliable Customer Commitments 

Consider the average job duration for a meter install is about 30 minutes. However, there are many factors that can lead to a wide variance in this average. For example, the skillset and the experience level of the assigned technician will certainly influence duration, as will how many times they have successfully completed this task before. Likewise, many additional factors will influence how long the job will take to complete—the ease of access to the meter, what type of meter is being replaced, and even whether it is raining.

Analyzing historic information in conjunction with real-time environmental factors (such as the weather), leads to a much more precise estimate of the job duration than the average. This allows you to set and meet expectations for your customers about their service, without overpromising and underdelivering. If you say a meter replacement will only take 30 minutes, but the weather doubles that time, your customer won’t be happy. But if you know ahead of time that the weather will be a factor, you can proactively reschedule the job or at least be more transparent about the time with your customers.

Increased Customer Lifetime Value

Traditionally different lines of business—such as marketing, sales, and service—have operated independently. But equipped with data about customers, service operations, and resource utilization, organizations can work together much more efficiently and uncover more opportunities to drive demand.

For instance, a cable company with insight into usage patterns from a customer relationship management system (CRM) can understand the needs and interests of the customer much better. Maybe a customer interested in sports has been consistently purchasing live sporting events a la carte. The next time a field technician comes onsite for a repair, and has access to this information, he can offer a sports package to the customer. Not only is this an opportunity to drive revenue, but also a way to grow the relationship with the customer by meeting their needs at the right time.

Get Real Results with Actual Intelligence

Prediction accuracy—in everything from scheduling to resource utilization—is key in field service optimization. Especially when just one poor or uncalculated decision can impact all lines of business. Just a mile or minute can mean millions of dollars lost at an enterprise scale. And just one missed or delayed appointment can lead to a spiral of inefficiencies and dissatisfaction from the people who depend on you. Your customers count on you to solve their problems—whether that means powering their businesses or heating their homes in the winter. It’s important to show them you care, that you value their time, and that they can trust in you by being precise, on time, responsive, and effective in every service interaction.

Achieving precision requires leading-edge artificial intelligence and machine learning to quickly analyze vast amounts of data.  However, relying on technology alone is not sufficient. Service leaders from across the world are improving efficiency, delighting customers, and achieving measurable business value today, by combining data and business know-how. It’s this insight from real-world service experience and actual intelligence that brings service organizations to the next level.