Due in major part to technological developments that allow companies to deliver their goods and services directly to customers, the field service environment has significantly changed to encompass firms in almost every industry. Field service firms have started implementing digital transformation projects because of the introduction of these technologies, and those that don't keep up run the risk of falling behind their rivals.
The efficiency, effectiveness, and customer experiences of field service teams are all enhanced by newer technologies. However, some businesses have neglected to give priority to investing in technology that support their most important functions, including scheduling, in their drive to roll out glitzy new tools and achieve digital maturity.
The customer experience is significantly impacted by ineffective scheduling procedures and antiquated, manual instruments, which waste time that could be spent servicing more customers. In fact, they result in a few operational issues that compromise the viability of a field service organization's digital transformation strategy.
Here comes field service automation, which intended to do away with the operational challenges that organizations experience. With the help of field service automation, businesses can carry out their digital transformation goals with more efficiency, improve the customer and staff experience, and boost profitability.
What is Field Service Automation?
Field service automation, also known as field service management (FSM), refers to all of the procedures, instruments, and guidelines that a company uses to oversee its operations. Automation relies on technology and data for success where "traditional" field service management relied on manual methods and fundamental metrics—such as windshield time and labour utilization—to carry out tasks and monitor progress.
For instance, a field service provider might employ automation to speed up the dispatching and scheduling process. Field service automation software handles the labor-intensive task of creating schedules rather than leaving it up to staff schedulers and dispatchers to do so manually using spreadsheets, online calendars, or even whiteboards. To eliminate human error and improve team productivity, it automatically creates optimum schedules and connects the right person to the correct job (based on certifications, skill sets, locations, preferences, and more).
Field service automation is particularly attractive to organizations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as they work to overcome new challenges and keep pace with industry trends, including:
- Increased customer expectations and demand
- A greater focus on sustainability
- Pressures to keep both employees and customers safe and healthy
- A need to remain SLA-compliant
- A need to balance profitability and quality of customer service
10 Benefits of Field Service Automation
Organizations that leverage field service automation software benefit in a variety of ways. The value of the right solution is grounded in powerful, robust features that solve multiple operational challenges.
Here are 10 ways in which field service automation software can benefit your business:
1. Real-time scheduling
Every field service company must deal with the unpleasant truth that daily schedules are subject to constant change. A last-minute schedule change might completely disrupt a field worker's day, in contrast to their desk-based counterparts, who often have no trouble cancelling or rescheduling meetings.
Consider staff schedulers at an HVAC field service company who plan the work of their personnel using manual, rigid, and unchanging tools (such as Excel). They spend time every week organising work orders and technician information (such as locations, skill sets, availability, etc.) and making schedules that make the most of the working hours of field employees. Theoretically, it's a good system that gets every technician to their destination on time.
But what happens when a technician cancels due to illness, a client submits an urgent repair order that needs to be handled first, and two clients ask to reschedule their appointments? The staff schedulers are forced to juggle the schedule, wasting valuable time speaking with potential replacements, figuring out the best travel routes to maintain worker efficiency, and making sure that each employee has been given equitable working hours. They run the risk of missing appointments, having angry workers, and ultimately losing money if they don't get it right—and quickly.
This time-consuming headache is eliminated with field service automation software. Real-time scheduling adjustments are handled, and adjustments are automatically made in accordance with the company's pre-established priorities, limits, and circumstances. These unavoidable last-minute changes don't hinder the team's efficiency or have an adverse effect on the customer experience in terms of operations.
2. Decreased Manual Tasks
It is laborious, time-consuming, and expensive to manually create schedules and reports, dispatch, gather field data, and manage hours. Functional delays and errors are caused by these out-of-date procedures, and both influence the effectiveness and efficiency of operations.
Businesses can easily use intelligent technology to streamline workflows and processes with a field service automation solution. These tools lessen manual administrative work, allowing field and back-office staff to concentrate on higher-value tasks like customer service.
Staff schedulers and dispatchers can easily build and alter schedules, optimise travel paths, and guarantee efficient resource allocation with the correct software. Field employees can swiftly gather information (even offline) on their mobile devices and then instantly sync that data back to the main system, replacing the need for paper forms to record customer information, job specifics, and other information.
Their productivity is no longer constrained by the need to manually complete mountains of paperwork and enter data into a system once they get back to headquarters, which costs time and exposes them to more error. Key details are never missed, and field workers remain productive without compromising the data that is so important to the company.
What’s more, field service automation solutions can automatically track hours worked and sync them back to HR and finance systems, so payroll and invoicing are always accurate and seamless. Field workers simply check in and out of job sites on their mobile apps to verify that they’ve completed a job, rather than spending precious hours filling out timesheets.
3. Centralized hub of information
To access and share information, record task details, check and update their schedules, and connect with coworkers and clients, many field service teams utilize a variety of applications. As a result, there are conflicting sources of the truth and missing or redundant information, which frequently leads to misunderstandings, mistakes, and a lack of readiness in the field.
This makes it more difficult to hire and train new field service technicians. As the current workforce ages, they pass on fundamental knowledge and expertise, leaving new hires scrambling to find the information they require to do their jobs effectively.
But with field service automation software, back-office staff and field personnel may access a single, secure source of truth. No one ever misses a beat because everyone can discover and share everything they need, whenever and wherever they need it, and information is updated in real time. Working from the most recent information ensures that everyone in the team is always accurate and productive.
Since all necessary paperwork is readily available to employees of any experience level, this also makes it possible for improved training and support. Field personnel are given the freedom and authority to approach any situation with confidence and preparedness, giving customers the best experience possible. Since they always have easy access to the necessary checklists, policies, and procedures, they also maintain efficiency and safety.
4. Decreased down time
A field service company cannot achieve the workforce visibility needed for effective maintenance operations due to disconnected, out-of-date systems. Lack of real-time visibility results in an insufficient awareness of what has already been accomplished, what has to be done and when, and who needs to do it. It also results in a lack of customer and job history.
More equipment failures and breakdowns result from this, which adds to the expense of downtime. Its reactive maintenance strategy makes it difficult for the business to live up to client expectations.
Modern field service automation tools remove the uncertainty involved in planning and carrying out maintenance tasks. They support teams in taking a more pro-active stance by enabling complete visibility and transparency into planning, scheduling, and overall maintenance operations.
To guarantee that everything is in working order, the company maintains thorough, current records of previous inspections and job histories. When something does break, they have all the knowledge they require to properly address the issue and plan for downtime, enhancing both productivity and client satisfaction. Instead of throwing the entire team's schedules off course.
5. Improved efficiency in preventive maintenance
Field service teams are unable to take advantage of a strong preventive maintenance practise due to operational inefficiencies brought on by limited visibility, complicated scheduling requirements, and inadequate tools. Unexpected costs such as costly equipment replacements, lost productivity, poor customer satisfaction, and overtime labour occur to them. They must deal with frequent break-fix situations that are challenging to keep up with as well as equipment failures that could be dangerous.
A more effective, optimized jigsaw includes preventive maintenance software (such as CMMS, ERP, and EAM), but schedulers and technicians also require field service automation software to be successful.
They can obtain total workforce visibility, capabilities that support multi-layered workflows, and the ability to manage demanding scheduling needs with the proper solution. They can always get the right worker to the right job at the right time because they have all of their crucial information—such as equipment records, job histories, labour availability and skill sets, and more—in one central location.
Poorly thought-out schedules that might ordinarily hinder field service teams' preventative maintenance procedures are no longer a problem. Even when unanticipated changes take place, they can still operate effectively. They have fully streamlined their scheduling, dispatching, and routing procedures to ensure that technicians arrive at the following project site quickly and safely. Never skipping a maintenance assignment, the company achieves their SLAs for happier clients, safer working environments, fewer downtime, and a stronger bottom line.
6. Greater asset and equipment management
Field service firms must track and manage a wide variety of assets, but without the right procedures and tools, they frequently struggle to get the most out of their investments. Because their workflows and scheduling procedures don't allow for thorough inspection and maintenance, teams must contend with short asset life cycles.
Businesses can increase the value of their assets and machinery via field service automation. Their scheduling system functions flawlessly, allowing professionals to guarantee that everything is constantly in good condition. They can quickly fix problems and replace parts rather than an entire piece of equipment with consistent, routine inspection and maintenance, which helps them avoid the time and expense of larger failures.
7. Improved employee oversight and productivity
According to 72% of CEOs, their current technology has a negative influence on employee productivity. Many firms have embraced single-point solutions or have pieced together numerous technologies to better support their operations, but the results are far from satisfactory. Disparate technologies reduce employee visibility and impair productivity because it takes a lot of time for employees to switch between platforms in order to find what they need.
Supervisors lack a fundamental grasp of the operations of their staff, including availability, progress, and any potential barriers, and they are unable to see what is happening in the field. And if they don't know precisely what's working and what isn't, they can't address problems with productivity or performance. Because timetables and routes aren't properly adjusted to maximize working hours, workers aren't as productive as they could be. Additionally, if resources are not easily accessible to field personnel, even a minor problem might ruin a whole day.
However, field service teams who use field service automation solutions have complete visibility into every aspect of their business. They can track the whereabouts of workers and the status of jobs in real-time, which leads to a safer and more effective workplace. The team is able to serve more customers without compromising quality because they are able to optimize schedules and routes based on all pertinent factors (such as availability, skill sets, customer and job histories, etc.).
8. Greater inventory control
An ERP system is typically used by field service teams to manage inventories, keep track of which equipment is being utilized, and plan the appropriate jobs for when the equipment is available. Although many ERP programs don't track inventory by technician, they do enable teams to look within and manage their internal resources.
However, this is a significant challenge because supervisors must be aware of which technicians have the required tools, materials, and knowledge to finish a certain work at the appropriate time. If not, they have trouble effectively understanding and managing their inventory, as well as meeting the SLAs
Field service automation software fills this gap by offering data on a per-technician, per-job basis in real time. Unlike ERP systems alone, its capabilities are robust enough to provide every single data point supervisors need to make intelligent decisions about their field service operations.
9. Improved customer loyalty and satisfaction
A field service company needs effective operations, a streamlined employee experience, and the capacity to provide top-notch customer service on time to stay profitable and competitive. Systems of record, like ERPs, are excellent at offering a reliable data source for business domains. But to bring everything together and guarantee fantastic customer experiences, field service personnel also require a system of interaction.
Because of real-time scheduling and optimized routes, teams using intelligent field service automation can provide clients with up-to-date arrival times. Field workers may complete their jobs correctly the first time, every time, since they are well-equipped with everything they need and have access to a single source of truth.
Software for field service automation was specifically created to support teams in exceeding customers' expectations at every stage of service delivery. Teams can confidently complete their tasks while concentrating on the needs of the customers by tracking specific data (such as customer invoices, receipts, and preferences) and storing that data in a single location.
Additionally, it automates dispatching and scheduling, so teams won't continually deal with customer service problems like last-minute cancellations or no shows. The end result is a happier, more devoted clientele that has faith in your business to live up to (or even surpass) their expectations.
10. Increased cohesion and communication among team members
Teams with high levels of engagement are more profitable than teams with low levels of engagement, but 80% of remote workers say they feel more alienated or disconnected than their coworkers in the office. It is understandable that field workers find it difficult to stay connected when there aren't enough communication technologies available that are specifically made to support them.
Some field service automation programs address this issue by providing mobile-first tools that completely automate worker communication. Through real-time updates, centralized alerts, and easy access to vital resources, they improve collaboration and knowledge sharing. Since they have everything, they need to work together in real time on one app, field workers don't need to waste time switching between different communication platforms. This improves their field performance in terms of engagement, output, and general effectiveness.
Powerful Field Service Automation for a More Efficient Team
A field service operation that is supported by reliable equipment and procedures will be successful. While your team's efforts to digitally change may have relied on a variety of ineffective solutions, intelligent field service automation software can assist you in achieving actual operational efficiency.
The field service management system from Aimsio makes it simple to increase the effectiveness, productivity, and efficiency of your team. Aimsio can assist your company in overcoming the operational difficulties posed by field service work with its tools for automated scheduling and dispatching, optimized routing, seamless communication, quick field data collection and analysis, and more.
Learn more about how implementing the proper software can help you increase operational effectiveness and drive cost savings, productivity gains, customer satisfaction increases, and financial gains.
Book your demo today!