Service is the new sales. Following this maxim, many companies in the machine, plant, vehicle, and equipment manufacturing sector attach great importance to efficient and satisfactory service. Field Service Management (FSM), i.e. the deployment of service staff to install, maintain or repair machines, systems, equipment or vehicles on the customer's site, is a key component of this.
Planning and organizing the deployment of service technicians is carried out by field service employees in the office (dispatchers).
What challenges do field service management employees currently face? What solutions are available?
This blog post provides answers to these questions.
Variety of challenges
1. Field service employees in the office / dispatchers: Maintaining an overview
- Efficient service order management: Service orders from customers must be well planned and organized. As much transparency as possible must be created for both customers and employees.
- Optimal scheduling of the various resources: Technicians as well as equipment and vehicles must be optimally scheduled. Various factors must be considered, including travel distances, travel times, required materials, employee qualifications, appointment scheduling, the customer’s office hours and, if applicable, the customer's preferences for or dislikes of certain technicians. One dispatcher usually schedules numerous field service employees.
- Scheduling short-term service appointments in compliance with service level agreements (SLAs): In addition to events that can be planned in advance, such as repairs or maintenance, dispatchers face the challenge of scheduling the repair of unplanned incidents that occur at short notice. To do this, dispatchers need a way that is as simple as possible to flexibly adjust scheduling and inform service technicians in real time about a changed schedule.
2. Field service employees in the field / service technicians: Obtaining knowledge
- Optimum service at the customer's site: The primary goal of service technicians is to quickly resolve incidents and implement repairs and maintenance procedures efficiently and satisfactorily.
- Compensating for a lack of experience through documented knowledge: Demographic change also poses major challenges for service. Many experienced service technicians are currently retiring, and few young service technicians are replacing them. Fewer people, less experience, more complex systems and machines, more disciplines involved - from mechanics, pneumatics, and hydraulics to electromechanics and electronics to computer technology and software - the new generations in service are facing major challenges. To master these, support from an integrated system is necessary.
- Mobile access to all relevant information on the customer, the service order, machines, and spare parts: For optimal preparation and execution of assignments, field service employees need easy access to all relevant information. To be able to access this information while on the road and at the customer's site, access should be possible via a mobile device and, if possible, offline as well. Required spare parts should also be identifiable and orderable while in the field.
- Efficient documentation of service reports, material consumption, and working time: Time is precious. Service employees should therefore spend as little of it as possible writing reports and documenting the work performed.
3. Field service managers: Speed and efficiency
- Cost efficiency through fast invoicing of service calls: For field service managers, an important challenge is to be able to pass on all the information relevant to invoicing to the accounting department as simply and quickly as possible, so that the work performed can be invoiced as soon as possible.
How does a field service management software support?
A Field Service Management Software offers numerous potentials for process optimization and cost reduction. Important components of a field service management software are:
- Efficient scheduling and route planning including an integrated map
- Integrated ticket system for planning and organizing service orders
- Mobile order processing and documentation of performed activities with service forms, photos, videos, and digital signatures
- Access to relevant customer, machine, and spare parts information in real time
- Integrated knowledge management with smart search
- Remote support to assist the technician on site with augmented reality, smart glasses, or virtual reality glasses
What are the advantages of using an integrated field service management software?
Manufacturers of machines, plants, vehicles, and equipment benefit from the use of field service management software in many ways:
- Cost efficiency in scheduling and performing service activities
- Increased first time fix rate, as all relevant information is available to the service technician in advance and in the field (for example, on activities already carried out, best practices or repair and maintenance instructions)
- Increased customer satisfaction through transparency, as the customer is always informed about the current status of their service order
- Fast invoicing of service calls, as they can be documented without delay and invoiced on the same day
- Reduction of travel times through remote support
The more integrated the FSM software is in the existing system landscape (CRM system, ERP system, digital spare parts catalog, or service information system), the more transparency and data exchange is possible.
Bottom line: Efficient field service management succeeds using software
High speed and excellent service are among the key success factors in field service. Nowadays, this can hardly be achieved without the use of suitable field service management software.
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