Field service delivery is undergoing a transformation. This paradigm shift has effectively taken the “field” out of field services, with the industry focused on servicing customers in the most efficient way possible. What does this mean for the field service of 2020 and beyond?
The result of this shift is an explosion of remote service delivery. Gone is the traditional model of technicians dispatched to a customer’s location, toolbox in hand. Instead, technicians can now be found in their homes, cars or back offices, smartphones in hand, providing customers with remote support from a safe distance. Instead of waiting for a technician to arrive on site, customers have their issues resolved faster as a technician can now be “on site” with a click of the mouse.
5 Drivers of Remote Support in Field Services
Here are five key drivers that are steering field service organizations towards introducing and building on their remote support offerings. Together, these drivers ensure that the new reality of field service will focus heavily on remote support. Let’s now go a little deeper into each one of these factors.
The Need for Safety
With 61% of customers today reporting that they would avoid technician visits unless strictly necessary (based on an October 2020 survey), innovative field service organizations have been turning to remote support alternatives in lieu of face-to-face visits. Instead of visiting a customer’s home, a technician can guide the customer from a remote location with the customer acting as the “hands” of the technician. Six months into the pandemic, the demand for this style of remote assistance is still evident, with 45% of consumers willing to use remote guidance to resolve issues due to safety considerations.
Growing Focus on Reducing Customer Effort
According to Gartner, organizations should strive to deliver experiences that are low effort because “effort is the strongest driver to customer loyalty”. Field service organizations are now recognizing this correlation and are increasingly focusing on how they can improve the customer experience. Especially today, when effort is so closely tied with safety, field services are taking the opportunity to provide effortless, safe interactions using remote support methods.
Advances in Field Service Technology
Remote support has come a long way from being an assistive option provided over phone or chat. Today’s remote support is fully integrated within the contact center workflows, enabling remote technicians and contact center agents to collaborate together to provide faster and more efficient service.
Technicians may use augmented reality or computer vision technologies to help them provide remote support to customers through several digital touchpoints—web, voice, chat, messaging, social media, video and email—and therefore support multiple channels of customer engagement. Advanced field services can provide automated remote support aided by predictive tools that make the customer’s life easier, as well as decision support tools and self-service deflection tactics that make the technician’s job simpler.
In addition, the proliferation of IoT devices provides endless opportunities for real-time data-based insights that enable businesses to predict when consumer devices will fail and to provide proactive remote customer assistance.
New Operating Model in Field Service
Many innovative field service organizations are shifting to an operating model that focuses on outcome-based contracts, where the priority is keeping customer equipment running at all costs. According to a Gartner survey in May 2019, 19% of service companies already offer these contracts and another 26% expect to do so within 12 months. This often requires a greater reliance on automated remote monitoring tools and remote assistance tools, which ultimately translates into a hands-off approach that is so critical during today’s safety-conscious world. Aside from reducing the volume of customer issues, this model also simplifies contractual obligations for customers. Instead of worrying about the details of service plans, the field service provider takes whatever steps necessary to avoid issues or resolve them as soon as possible.
Growing Need to Reduce Costs
Cost optimization is essential in field service organizations, where high operational costs are the norm. In particular, technician dispatches are a huge drain on operating expenses when considering labor costs, vehicle expenses, and the opportunity-cost of having technicians unavailable for revenue-producing activities.
Remote support has been proven beneficial to the bottom line as there are many fixes that are easy enough for an untrained person to carry out – with the right guidance. Enabling a remote or virtual technician to guide the customer toward a resolution without visiting their home is a model that has proven invaluable during the current pandemic. Aside from reducing field service costs by lowering dispatch costs, virtual technicians boost safety levels, improve first-time fix rates, and increase customer satisfaction.
Adoption of Remote Support in Field Service
Remote support is certainly not a new concept. For years, organizations have been attempting to resolve more of their customer’s issues remotely in order to boost overall effectiveness. However, the adoption of the remote support model has been accelerated in light of these drivers, with more and more organizations supporting permanent remote technician teams to deliver contactless service. Even after the pandemic, it becomes increasingly clear that remote support – or some form of it – is the industry standard in field service today.