Over the last year, workers, customers and regulators have required touchless / contactless Mobile Field Service Management, Asset Management, and Customer Service. These requirements have also led to greater demand for real-time field service updates, self-driven customer scheduling, and the move to paperless processes.
Suppliers and service providers should expect ongoing demand for touchless / contactless, and real-time data delivery processes.
Here are baseline ideas for how to create your Digital Transformation:
Why Contactless Customer Service is Here to Stay
The field service management landscape has changed dramatically over the past 12 months. Required adaptions have been necessary in the wake of COVID-19. These adaptations have forced many organizations to rethink how they provide field service and asset management to their customers.
These new worker and customer safety requirements have led to both revised work crew travel and management procedures, and a focus on contactless field service. Organizations are seizing this opportunity these contactless requirements as opportunities to streamline mobile workforce management, workorder and asset management processes, eliminate paper and digitize field service, and implement cloud-based technology that provides real-time, cross-silo data to finance, dispatchers, and field crews.
During 2020 and into 2021, worker and customer safety — including remote Field Service — became primary objectives so that work could be carried out with reduced risk to exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Operational safety now must take into account all aspects of customer and worker concerns and protection.
With the right field service management solution, the right crew with the right tools/parts can be deployed to arrive at the right time. And conduct the contactless work. Customers will be notified — via text, email, or phone call — about the location, status and arrival time of the field service crew.
Security can also be included, with an attached photo or security code of the arriving service person. As a result, customers and workers can both be prepared for the service. The service person can complete the task with minimal customer contact. As a result, both the field technician and customer are protected, and the quality of service is maintained.
Organizations can digitize workorders, travel routes, asset locations, manuals and other information to provide real-time directions, data and information to their field service crews. This automation enhances service efficiency and reduces the amount of manual work. Digital transformation of paper-driven operations reduces the time consuming “clipboard writing and erasing,” that creates duplicated input, transcription time, and increased costs. Automation, and data capture via images and checkboxes requires little or no direct interaction, while still capturing and documenting all customer requirements. The captured digital information can be immediately transmitted to other technicians, finance, dispatch, subcontractors, and the customer.
Conversational AI solutions such as chatbots and interactive popup service questions, are gaining traction with operations businesses that are looking for ways to deliver more consistent responses and increased self-service capabilities. These voice and text-based conversational AI solutions will continue to grow in use. These AI and Machine Learning (ML) solutions will enhance customer assistance, resolve issues, and allow customers to schedule and change appointments in real-time — thus lowering overall service costs.
New IoT sensors are reducing the need for onsite technicians to conduct direct asset inspections and monitoring. Sensors can detect changes and set alerts when equipment exceeds certain thresholds, such as temperature, pressure, or vibration. Intervention is only required in response to alerts when other factors have been remotely ruled out or resolved.
Predictive maintenance of assets reduces risk and increases asset longevity. AI coupled with IoT sensors means that all data can be continually analyzed and provide alerts before anything actually goes wrong with equipment. This shift to predictive maintenance rather than preventive maintenance results in less downtime of assets, and fewer break-fix situations. As a result, Sales, Leasing, and Asset Service operations can reduce onsite visits, and manage and extend an asset’s life.
Use of Drones
Drone technology provides a safe and cost-effective data collection and is proving to be an essential component in contactless service. Smart drones, powered by AI, incorporate reasoning and problem-solving capabilities. When drones are paired with computer vision, machine learning and other advanced features, they have the ability to simplify operational tasks. Drones can collect, store and process data to optimize workflows, asset performance and output.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
AR and VR help deliver remote working and contactless service. Through AR and VI, expertise and imagery can be shared in real time through mobile devices. Repeat visits to a work or service site can be reduced because technicians will have the knowledge they need to fully understand and resolve issues. AR and VR can also provide step-by-step instructions to customers to perform service repairs themselves. Machine learning will also provide solutions based on previous problems and related information. These technologies are also invaluable in training new hires and quality assurance in a contactless educational environment.
Effective communication is a key part in achieving contactless service. Customers want to be empowered to report issues, book their own appointments, then track service crew location and work progress. A connected customer will feel safer and more empowered. And operations can communicate more effectively, and in real-time, with connected customers. Information will be delivered where and when customers want to receive it. Contactless service when coupled with effective communication and digitally driven field service crews, will lead to ongoing customer loyalty and trust.
In a relatively short time, contactless service has become the norm. Customers now want issues resolved, and service maintained in a fast, predictable, contactless approach. If a technician has to be onsite, there are expectations for advanced communication, and the job needs to get done right — the first time.
Field service is a sector that has always involved remote working, but has now entered a new phase of just how remote that work can be. For organizations relatively new in their digital transformation, the past year should have accelerated the transformation process. With this digital transformation will come long-term business sustainability.
Over the past year, resilience, change and innovation have driven operational service and management modernization. Many organizations have benefited in an unprecedented way from cloud-based solutions.
Contactless service is here to stay. The operational benefits from digital transformation will provide value to organizations, workers and customers well into the future.
Vikram Takru is CEO of KloudGin, Inc. He co-founded KloudGin with the vision of creating transformative field service and asset management technology that eliminates silos, connects people, process and technology, and creates access to information where and when it is needed. He is committed to delivering solutions that work for field crews in the toughest conditions.