2022 and 6 growing trends in field service
Current reports indicate that field service as an offering is growing at a faster pace than ever. In 2016, the field service market size was estimated to be $1.78 billion USD, and now that number is predicted to hit $4.45 billion by the end of 2022—an estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.5 percent.
Much has changed since 2016. Technology has forever positively changed field service management—from automating work orders and AI-driven analytics to harnessing the power of mixed reality to complete a job.
With this in mind, there are a number of trends affecting the field service space. Some of these trends will prove pivotal to whether brands will flourish or fail.
Here are some ideas to debunk the nostalgia factor:
1. Contact-free or remote service
For the foreseeable future, organizations offering field service will keep providing contactless services, as a recent survey states that “75% of consumers do not like the idea of having field technicians in their homes” since the pandemic’s effects made themselves felt. Although this concept may not be new, but the new normal has quickly made this a top preference for customers. Accordingly, field service organizations and their technicians are changing their approach to meet expectations. The advent of IoT, AI, and mixed/augmented reality have helped standardize contactless services, while also lowering service operation costs, travel time, and vehicle expenses. Contactless service also promotes the health and safety of technicians, which is an invaluable benefit for the workforce.
2. Shift to automation
It’s not unheard of for field service operations to become stuck in manually intensive processes. This means that the administrative section often must handle the extra work, or frontline workers are saddled with more time on backend tasks instead of building relationships with customers. Backoffice operations can become overwhelming with managing customer expectations, parts inventory, juggling schedules, confirming appointments, submitting invoicing, plus fitting in that last-minute emergency service call.
Enter field management: Jobs can be automatically scheduled and assigned to technicians by leveraging AI and rules. For example, the closest, most experienced technician can be automatically booked and dispatched without causing excessive disruption to existing schedules. More and more field service organizations are now faced with an aging workforce. This makes optimizing scheduling even more important, as there are now fewer experienced technicians to dispatch. Automated scheduling is expected to continue to optimize operations as more technicians retire creating a quickly shrinking talent pool. 70 percent of service organizations surveyed stated they would be burdened by the knowledge loss of a retiring workforce in the next 5 to 10 years.
3. Proactive, predictive maintenance
Predictive maintenance uses AI, machine learning, and analytics to predict device failures before they happen. Predictive maintenance helps you take appropriate preventative measures to avoid device failures while decreasing maintenance costs. Predictive maintenance relies on predictive analytics, which uses historical data to match current behavior and make an assessment. Technicians can use IoT-enabled tools to proactively monitor equipment health, create alerts, and follow protocols to mitigate potential damage. If the same circumstances are occurring, the device is likely to fail again so a work order is automatically created, and service is scheduled. Customers can opt for remote service and self-healing initially or can have a technician dispatched.
More and more field service organizations will move to predictive maintenance solutions as it anticipates client needs, reduces outages, and significantly decreases costs for the field service organization and the customer. It can also predict when it is the safest and most optimal time to perform the work, which is important when scheduling device downtime to coincide with off-peak working hours.
4. Self-service portals
Clients require greater transparency concerning their work orders and service requests. They want real-time access to appointment calendars, the ability to track the technician’s route, as well as other information to sure smooth running of operations. To achieve this objective, client self-service portals will continue by offering 24/7 online support, alongside providing a knowledge base, FAQs, and other resources accessible by the customer. Even now, 70 percent of customers expect a company’s website to include a self-service application.
With the provision of a self-service portal, clients are able to create service requests and share important information about the device in question. They can also view past service calls, including the technician who performed the fix, and get simple and routine questions answered without having to engage a technician. They can resolve issues without having to schedule a service call. Self-service portals are designed to empower the customer, thereby increasing customer satisfaction, while also lowering field service organization costs.
Technician access to mobile technology is now an essential tool rather than an option. Around 75 percent of field service organizations with 50 or more users have deployed or plan to deploy mobile apps in the future, and 60 percent allow employees to bring their own devices to work with them; however, only one fifth are currently using mobile devices in the field with the vast majority of field service organizations stating increasing mobility as a top or growing investment priority.
When technicians have access to field service-specific mobile apps, they can easily have access to their schedules as well as real-time changes in them, get directions to a client location. They have the added advantage of avoiding traffic congestion and other delays. They are also able to review customer information, their service record, and access knowledge articles, product guides, and other company resources to speed up the repair process. Technicians can also leverage MS Teams and similar collaboration apps to reach out to others for assistance, which leads to a higher first-time fix rate. The mobile app can also enable a customer to electronically sign off on a work order to ensure quicker processing. The same cannot be done via the paper route.
6. Mixed reality
Mixed reality has grown from science fiction to a versatile and necessary tool. Its influence and use can now be traced from onboarding and training new employees in a safe, virtual environment to reaching out and collaborating with more experienced technicians for guidance on a difficult service call. Mixed reality can even ensure the safety of technicians by conducting virtual fixes using digital twins, virtual inspections, and device audits.
More experienced technicians can share their skills and provide guidance via shared holograms, but knowledge management is just one of the benefits. Mixed reality is a gateway to information about the resolution of the most common issues, with product guides available in hologram formats. Mixed reality can help better train new technicians, accelerate first-time fixes by tapping into the experience of more knowledgeable technicians, and promote better health and safety for front-line personnel.
The possibilities are essentially endless.
Field service management software like Dynamics 365 Field Service is leading the way by leveraging AI, IoT, and machine learning to deliver a well-rounded application. At IncubXperts, we continue to refine/customize features of such applications to meet the needs of your field service organization and help deliver predictable outcomes. Check our Services page to get more details!