The field service industry continues to evolve from a traditional, tactical business function of installation, maintenance and repair into a strategic revenue generator and competitive differentiator.
Service providers are on a constant mission to uncover the most effective ways to increase market share by winning new customers and retaining and expanding existing relationships. Part and parcel of this is customer satisfaction, a metric that is high on the priority list from the boardroom to the field, says Paul Whitelam, senior vice president of Global Marketing at ClickSoftware.
Modern field service management technology offers solutions to the challenges faced by service providers. For companies looking at ways to increase productivity, efficiency, and provide great customer experiences, intelligent automation is the way forward. But as with any other strategic investment, the business must be able to assess the value from a proposed technology investment. So what metrics should you use to determine whether or not you should invest?
To understand if you will achieve an appropriate return on investment (ROI) from field service technology, you must be prepared to ask tough questions. Below are three key performance indicators for measuring the success of field service management technology:
Exceptional customer experience
A Field Service report measuring expectations around services delivered to the home found that a positive customer experience is based largely on minimising the time spent waiting for an engineer or technician to arrive. Similarly, another survey found that 71% of customers said valuing their time is the most important factor in good service. It’s clear that prioritising and respecting customer time is paramount in improving the service experience.
Predictive field service helps address this problem. By leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data science to understand how long it takes technicians to undertake tasks and the associated travel time, predictive field service helps to increase schedule accuracy, ultimately delivering better service to customers.
Additionally, as more customer equipment is embedded with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, companies are empowered to dispatch technicians before specific parts fail or equipment needs replacing. With the right data and intelligent technology, it’s even possible to prepare for the unexpected, avoiding disruptions that threaten productivity and customer experience.
With IoT, field service organisations can not only increase efficiency and productivity, but slash the cost of missed SLA penalties, directly impacting customer satisfaction and profitability. IoT can deliver the operational gains needed to positively affect your bottom line and provide the kind of customer experience that fosters loyalty.
Reduction in costs and increase in productivity
Streamlining tasks and reducing the amount of time spent on paperwork and administrative work can lead to a significant increase in tasks completed per day. Cost of service and tasks per day are the KPIs that can often deliver the highest return.
Consider this: the average first-time fix rate for an organisation is approximately 77 %. This means that for all those repeat visits, the customer has to set aside even more time to wait for the technician, and the service provider has to incur additional costs for a follow up visit 23% of the time.
Fortunately, there are ample opportunities to streamline’s processes using AI. Intelligent scheduling enables organisations to automatically identify the right technician with the right equipment, parts and skills to get it right on-time, the first time, improving first-time fix rates dramatically. In doing so, productivity – and customer experience – improve. Some customers have seen an improvement in productivity of up to 40%.
For many companies with service level agreements, it is vital that a technician responds to mission critical emergencies in a timely manner. When such a crisis strikes – there is often a very small window of time to fix the issue and it is imperative that a technician gets to the scene. Embedding IoT sensors on equipment enables automatic reporting on asset health, and communicates when thresholds have been reached, greatly improving the chances of meeting SLAs.
In the pursuit of running a successful service business, creating the best customer experience, reducing costs while increasing productivity, and gaining a competitive edge are the ultimate goals. Accordingly, customers have seen much of the value derived from field service management solutions coming from focusing on the metrics of customer satisfaction, tasks per day, first time fix and travel costs.
Converting these factors into a quantitative measurement that can be examined before making a technology decision, allows companies to assess the likely ROI and ultimately determine whether a field service solution is worth the investment.
The author is Paul Whitelam, senior vice president of Global Marketing, ClickSoftware