In the past decade, businesses across industries have witnessed the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT)
The term applies to any device that is connected to the internet and exchanges data with other devices and systems across communication networks. As more residences and buildings incorporate IoT and appliances, the field service industry has reactively transformed to accommodate the emergence of IoT. Here are a few ways in which IoT integration will disrupt field service operations.
Proactive and predictive repairs
The traditional field service model is reactionary. Technicians are called only once a problem has occurred, meaning that customers must suffer for a period of time without an air conditioner, water heater or any other important appliance. However, as more devices are manufactured with IoT-enabled sensors and triggers, predictive maintenance capabilities can monitor the performance of a system and proactively inform service technicians of potential shutdowns or needed repairs by identifying when certain parameters are out of tolerance. IoT can play a critical role in monitoring what is about to break down in home systems, help maintain happier clients, and simplify fixes by alerting technicians before problems spiral into large-scale repairs.
Re-evaluation of the diagnostic process
Historically, when a customer reports an issue, field service operators dispatch technicians to the site to diagnose the problem based solely on the information provided by the client. This may sometimes lead to technicians being ill-equipped for the potential problem and require return visits which delay job completion. With IoT-enabled devices however, appliances can autonomously report statuses to digital networks and provide a more complete assessment of the problem at hand. This smart function helps technicians save time by approaching repairs strategically and with the proper parts on their first visit, instead of attempting to diagnose unidentified malfunctions.
Enhanced workforce performance
Connected field service IoT can also help service businesses internally by automating technician scheduling and dispatching. IoT software can automatically book technicians that are closest to customers and most qualified to complete the job, saving operators time and money and increasing workforce utilization. IoT interconnectivity also deepens technicians’ understanding of customer equipment, since the technology allows devices to communicate with one another, in addition to reporting to a central hub. By eliminating the physical barriers between system elements, individual devices can coordinate within the larger matrix. This integration enhances the collective device performance and allows technicians to have an overarching view of the entire network of connected systems and better understand how best to analyze and optimize their workflows.
Increased profitability and revenue
Inefficient service workflows can be immensely harmful to your business by wasting time, money, and resources. Field service is a customer-first industry, making customer experience and retention critical components of long-term profitability. When a technician needs to make repeat service visits, either to diagnose a problem or acquire the correct replacement parts, the company’s first-time fix rate decreases. Research has shown that the speed of repairs is incredibly important to clients, with 57% of field service customers stating that they want better first-time fix rates. By interconnecting IoT technology with service workflows, not only are technicians better equipped to fix a problem on the first visit, but companies save money by omitting additional technician hours, service equipment and travel expenses caused by repeat service visits, and unplanned downtime. Intelligent systems allow field service organizations to leverage data-driven decision-making to cut costs and improve customer service.
A new age
IoT is beginning to revolutionize the way the field service industry operates. From diagnosis and repair to inter-device communication and customer service, IoT is already integrated into many facets of the field service workflow. Companies looking to get ahead should consider leveraging field service management software that facilitates predictive maintenance and remote service management so that they can reap the benefits of IoT technology to improve customer relations and build long-term financial success.
About the Author
Brad Hawkins is Senior Vice President of Products and Solutions at ServicePower and oversees product management and pre-sales engineering. A long-time veteran in the world of field service technology, Brad brings more than 20 years of experience in workforce management software.