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Covid field industry

How COVID-19 is Transforming The Field Industry

COVID-19 has forced the field service industry to use remote technology offerings and shift toward a proactive based approach rather than a reactive based approach.

In fact, data from our latest collaboration with Strategies for Growth from the late Bill Pollock shows that 77 percent of field service organizations (FSOs) are exploring advanced technologies, and 93 percent believe that advanced service offerings will last well beyond COVID-19.

While COVID-19 has certainly pushed FSOs to think about new ways to serve their customers, the industry was already poised for change.

Here’s an overview of what field service looked like before COVID-19 and what it looks like now.

Focus Before COVID-19

Before COVID-19 hit, several companies offered best-in-class services or outcome-based services. However, it still wasn’t mainstream, and the industry was equally divided into three categories:

  • About 33 percent offered proactive outcome-based service models
  • About 33 percent offered hybrid models that were reactive but offered remote support and some outcome edges to contracts 
  • About 33 percent were still offering reactive services

This division positioned the field service industry for change, and COVID-19 happened to be the catalyst that solidified a proactive form of service.

Focus During COVID-19

Before COVID-19, companies with reactive and manual based services were still able to compete, though without the same margins as proactive companies.

However, as COVID-19 set in, FSOs relying entirely on manual processes were no longer able to send technicians to the site or were forced to limit on-site interaction. Therefore, companies with remote technology had a huge advantage.

For example, rather than showing up on-site to do an SLA, the technician could assess the site, perform analysis remotely, and then bring the right tools to get the job done the first time.

Needless to say, this pleased customers and increased first-time fix rates and technician efficiency.

Therefore, while 61 percent already had projects underway entering COVID-19, 71 percent of FSOs changed their priorities to outcome-based services.

The Future of The Field Industry

As the field service industry is adapting to a new normal, many companies are quickly catching on to outcome-based services and proactive maintenance opportunities. 

In fact, our study showed that FSOs plan to incorporate:

  • Augmented reality/virtual reality (46 percent)
  • Artificial intelligence/machine learning (46 percent)
  • Predictive analytics (63 percent)
  • Remote experts (48 percent)

This proactive approach of servitization means that FSOs will have longer service contracts at higher margins. However, as this is an outcome-based approach rather than a service-based approach, it also means that FSOs must have high first-time fix rates and improve their efficiency to make an outcome-based model profitable.

Final Thoughts

Our study with Strategies for Growth from the late Bill Pollock revealed an encouraging 74 percent of FSOs are poised for growth rather than survival for 2021.

It’s imperative that FSOs get support and commitment from the executive team now to move towards outcome-based services as it will be the future of field service. If you adopt and adapt, your company will be well-positioned for growth. However, if you let it pass you by, customers may likely turn to competitors that offer faster and higher quality services through outcome-based models.

These findings were presented at the 2020 Field Service U.S. Summit hosted by Copperberg. Click here to access the data itself to get a better understanding about where field service is headed in 2021.