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Critical capabilities for field service support

Critical capabilities for field service support

Critical capabilities for field service support

By 2020, more than 75% of field service organizations with over 50 users will deploy mobile apps that go beyond simplified data collection and will add capabilities that help technicians succeed (Gartner). This trend towards better field support is driven by a few key factors:

Wide use of mobile phones by field technicians and engineers
Application of technologies from other areas of the enterprise and consumer world in field service
Aging workforce. Expert technicians with key product knowledge are retiring
The need to capture and manage knowledge effectively

According to an Aberdeen report on field service knowledge management, savvy field organizations are 22% more likely to connect field technicians to remote experts to share knowledge. The ability to quickly diagnose a problem, find the right answer and resolve the issue on a first visit are key to increasing efficiency and improving customer satisfaction. It is imperative that service organizations take the time to evaluate and implement one or more products that empower their field teams to perform more effectively.

Capabilities

Depending on the nature of the jobs the field team works on, and the location of the job sites,the tool used for field support may require different capabilities. Some of the key capabilities to evaluate your field support product are:

Chat and collaboration
Knowledge management
Self-support enhanced by AI
Smart escalation for fast, expert connection
Video/Augmented Reality for remote support
Omnichannel
IIoT (Industrial IoT) integration

Chat and collaboration

When field teams are on the job, they need answers fast with minimal disruption to their work.Chat is a great way to communicate and collaborate with one or more team members or product experts at the technician’s own pace to allow them to troubleshoot and resolve issues.

It is important that the tool supports capabilities to easily markup/annotate images, reply to a specific message within the conversation, and integrate document libraries. Having AI augmentation to provide automated suggestions based on previous conversations as well as the knowledge base could save technicians and experts time and eliminate mistakes.

Knowledge management

As companies grow and technologies evolve, oftentimes expertise stays in isolated corners of the organization. In addition, reliance on external contractors in the future would also increase knowledge gaps. To ensure expertise is codified and dispersed, effective knowledge management is critical. Knowledge management is a key factor that sets the best-in-classservice organizations apart from the average ones.

Knowledge management entails capturing information at the right point in an interaction, processing it, and organizing it for easy retrieval and consumption at the right time using the right medium. For example, capturing the interaction between a field engineer and a product expert as they solve an issue, and using this data to help another engineer facing the same or similar issue.

Self-support enhanced by AI

The use of artificial intelligence and chatbots for customer support has become ubiquitous in consumer-facing websites and apps. The technology has evolved to a point where it is making an impact on the organization’s ability to learn from the past and deliver 24X7 support.

Having a knowledge base, and a process in place to constantly enhance it makes it easier to implement AI-based self-support, which can be delivered in the form of smart recommendations when the tech has an issue or in the form of specialized chatbots for troubleshooting and product information.

Video/AR for remote support

Invariably, there are situations where the expert needs to see a situation through the eyes of the field technician to provide guidance effectively. In most cases, an integrated remote video solution through a smartphone addresses this need. Giving the expert the ability to draw and add annotations on the live video to guide the technician makes the process even easier and faster.

Smart escalation for fast, expert connection

Since most organizations focus on KPIs such as Mean Time To Repair and First Time Fix Rates, time is of the essence when it comes to diagnosing and resolving issues. The tool used for field support must have a way of finding the right expert at the right time for assistance.

What this translates to is the capability to route the request from the technician to the expert(s) based on the type of the problem, and location. If the first, preferred, expert is unavailable, the tool should be able to escalate the request up the chain or across geographic locations until it finds someone to help out.

Omnichannel

Field technicians perform jobs in all types of environments; on rooftops, in factories with big equipment, and at remote sites such as oil rigs and mines. You name it. The field support tool should be flexible enough to provide help using the channel or medium of convenience for the field team member. Smart glasses, which are now becoming more powerful and user-friendly, enable hands-free operation. Voice-enabled chatbots available on the smartphone, save time and increase ease of use.

Industrial IoT integration

More manufacturers are adopting Industrial IoT and making their equipment connect through either a proprietary IoT framework or a commercial framework such as AWS IoT Core, PTC ThingWorx or Siemens Mindsphere. Field support apps can make life easier for technicians by providing easy access to data from the equipment and helping make the diagnostic process faster.

Another key integration use case is helping team members collaborate around data and issues reported by the IoT sensors/monitoring software.

Conclusion

Field service teams and technology leaders seeking improved customer satisfaction and better efficiencies through new field support capabilities should:

Evaluate the current support practices in light of the available modern field support solutions in the market today
Select a support product that matches their support needs in terms of the technical complexity of the job, location, and the need for flexibility in terms of how support is requested and received
Keep an eye on the future so that the selected product enables you to take advantage of technological advances without going back to the drawing board
Ensure that the selected support platform not only improves customer satisfaction and service efficiency but also makes the lives of the field service team members easier.
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