At the beginning of every year, companies spend time evaluating their current processes and solutions in order to identify areas of opportunity to improve efficiency, achieve cost savings and improve customer service. We took a look back at how field service has drastically changed in the last two decades due to technological breakthroughs, changes in process or competition. Some of the biggest “game changers” have turned the industry on its head, making technicians more efficient and improving customer satisfaction. Here a list of what we believe to be the most significant innovations that have transformed the field service industry in the last 20 years.
Mobile Devices Become Ubiquitous
Mobile workforces have increased over the last several years and the technology they use has evolved as well. Globally, 81% of employees use at least one mobile device for business use with 32% relying on more than one mobile device during their workday. Adoption of mobile technologies, such as smartphones and tablets, has opened a door for small business owners to keep up with some of its larger counterparts. The ability to have instant access to customer and job information is an invaluable tool for business productivity and profitability, with 40% reporting an increase in service revenue contribution per technician . As a result, more companies are encouraging bring your own device (BYOD) policies and practices that offer more collaboration and a competitive advantage.
The Cloud Rolls In
In 2013, cloud adoption rose to 75% among business users, IT decision makers and cloud platform and application vendors with 52% using cloud-based applications to advance business priorities. These numbers are expected to increase over the next couple years due to the 24/7 accessibility cloud-based applications provide businesses. The ability to store company data and files, customer information and preferences, and parts and warranty information offers technicians instant access to data, ultimately providing the customer with customized service. The cloud also helps keep the back office running smoothly. Since expenses, invoices, and inventories can be stored in the cloud, companies can reduce costs and increase operational efficiency.
Social Networking Gives Everyone a Voice
There has been a surge in online retail, social media and review sites in the last several years. As a result, more and more customers are taking to the Web to review companies they have done business with. In the past, customers would make formal complaints through a company’s customer service department either via a phone call or letter. However, it is now more common to see customers describing their experiences – especially the bad – online, reaching a wider audience without much company input. According to Help Scout, 86% of consumers have stopped using a business because of a bad experience; and now, those bad experiences are resulting in bad reviews, which can be seen by millions of people and can significantly impact a company’s reputation. Making sure that every customer is given the time and attention required is the best way to ensure that online company information and reviews remain favorable.
Businesses Get Serious About Analytics
Twenty years ago the service industry had very arbitrary ways of understanding business performance. Data was minimal and not always accurate and forecasting was hard to do with such little information. These days business analytics provides enough information and data to understand how companies are stacking up in the industry, and amongst their competitors. Applications and practices for investigating and exploring business performance have expanded. Smart technology captures useful quantitative data to help companies make better decisions and plan for the future.
Field Service Management Is Born
Before field service management solutions became widely accepted, service companies were still using manual processes to invoice or close service calls. These paper-based manual processes were time consuming and led to more errors and higher costs. Since service companies are always looking for effective ways to minimize overhead, many have implemented field service management software, usually as a cloud-based solution. These solutions allow all office and field resources to stay connected and capture customer, job, inventory and employee information in one central, accessible place. In addition, as more consumers and businesses demand shorter service windows, faster response times and better customer service, companies with field service management are able to be more accurate and more proactive.
The progress and innovations that have developed in the last 20 years is a good indicator of the amazing advances in technology and business processes that we can expect to see in the next twenty. We encourage you to share your thoughts on what other innovations should be included. Post your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FieldAware or tweet us at twitter.com/fieldaware.