Emerging technologies—mobile, advanced analytics, and more—are making their mark on field service operations. Without a doubt, today’s field organizations have unprecedented opportunities to transform how they do business and deliver better service to customers.
As we move full steam ahead into 2015, what topics are most pressing to field service leaders? A recent survey of 180 organizations from The Service Council’s (TSC) provided essential insight.
Here are ten top-of-mind issues for today’s field service organizations:
- Field activity is on the rise: TSC’s survey found that more than half (55%) of respondents noted growing numbers of field visits.
- Customers hold equipment longer: A big reason for the jump in field service activity is that customers keep equipment for longer periods. Forty percent (40%) said they saw increased customer service needs tied to this factor.
- Many field ops are adequately staffed: About two-thirds of organizations say they can have enough resources meet current rise field service demands. Still, nearly half (47%) had open positions at the close of 2014.
- Talent loss is an imminent threat: Although field service workforces are currently stable, many firms expect to lose personnel and ramp up hiring in the next three to five years.
- Field service revenue is growing: More than two-thirds (68%) of businesses saw more revenue from field service activity last year. Nearly half (47%) said field service grew more than 10 percent in 2014.
- Mobile adoption keeps rising: Not everyone is mobile—yet. In fact, 52 percent of respondents said implementing mobile apps to reduce paperwork is a 2015 priority.
- Self-service needs improvement: Forty-seven percent said their customers have no self-service options. That means those customers can schedule or cancel appointments or check on technician status. This is key opportunity for investment.
- Real-time video is emerging: Fifty-six percent (56%) are exploring options for real-time video to improve efficiency. One-third of that group expects to adopt video in the near-term
- Service costs concern customers: Thirty-one percent (31%) of respondents said customers complain about costs for any services not under contract.
- Inventory management is gaining focus: Respondents highlighted parts and inventory management as top execution challenges.
These findings show that field service is in transition. While many see revenues up and staffing as adequate, the coming years will bring inevitable shifts. Field services need to lay the groundwork now for a successful tomorrow.
2015 Focus Areas
In addition to summarizing trends, TSC has also identified key 2015 priorities. Those include: process control and review, talent, execution, IT infrastructure, and call management, dispatch and scheduling.
According to TSC, process control is a consistent priority, but the focus has shifted. Today, more field service organizations are looking for ways to improve customer satisfaction and increase revenues.
Many organizations are looking at processes—such as appointment reservations, dispatches, and post-appointment follow-up—within the field service operation.
Field service organizations are also strategizing now to address impending resource shifts as older workers move into retirement. They are also looking at ways to improve automation to reduce paperwork, support knowledge transfer, and provide customer information and training to field service representatives. Mobility and wearable are two other hot button topics for many field service organizations.
Importantly, many service organizations are recognizing that low-quality call management has negative effects on dispatch and delivered service levels. Organization are realizing that poor contact processes can cause unnecessary or ineffective dispatches. They are looking for ways to improve scheduling—including making it easier for customers to schedule visits and tightening appointment windows.
Better Service, More Profit
The recent TSC survey reinforce findings from a Worldwide Business Research (WBR) study last year. That study of 125 executives found that 70 percent said their companies’ profit from service was equal to or greater than sales. Seventy-nine percent also noted that they have metrics to measure and track customer satisfaction. That is vital since the link between customer experience and revenue is well known.
It is clear that advanced contact management is a key priority for field service ops in 2015. By making appointment scheduling easy, tracking technician status, and shortening appointment windows field service leaders can make dramatic improvements in customer experiences and gain higher profits.
Engage with Us
Do TSC’s findings ring true for you? Let us know what you see as your top areas of focus for 2015.
- Are your revitalizing your processes and operations to deliver better customer experiences?
- How solid are your appointment and contact management functions?
- Are you gaining more revenues from service visits?
Share your thoughts in the space below. We welcome your insights.