Field service is most often thought of as a cost center within a business. Service teams are dispatched to fix problems, restore services, and update systems that are outdated or not functioning properly. But new technologies are changing the game – companies are turning field service into a revenue stream.
How is this possible? Companies still have to deliver repair services, they still have to deploy technicians all over the country, and systems can still stop working. But companies also have to deliver a modern and valuable customer service experience. To deliver the all-in-one service customers expect while also monetizing field service offerings, companies must maximize their resources and streamline their processes.
Instead of using a break-fix model, field service should now be thought of as an outcome-based model. Here are four ways to turn field service into a revenue-generating branch of your business.
It All Starts with IoT
Transforming field service into a revenue center starts with IoT – it is the foundation on which you can automate services, leverage data, deploy new products, and ultimately save money and increase profits.
IoT in field service improves three touchpoints in your field service branch – your actual services, your internal processes, and customer satisfaction. IoT allows you to keep tabs on equipment 24/7 and automatically generate reports on performance and any needed maintenance.
For internal processes, IoT connects and collects all the data from every aspect of back end operations – technicians, scheduling, inventory, data, etc. – which gives you valuable information, therefore improving performance and eliminates costly manual processes. Finally, by harnessing the power of IoT to improve service and operations, you will improve equipment performance and the services you offer, leading to satisfied customers and more revenue from field service.
Other revenue-generating benefits of IoT for field service include:
- Real-time monitoring of equipment and service health to reduce downtime and to ensure that action is taken as needed, before equipment fails.
- Cut routine maintenance costs by performing condition-based maintenance that addresses high-probability issues rather than performing costlier ad-hoc maintenance.
- Create new revenue streams by enabling performance-based service agreements or equipment-as-a-service offerings.
Get Ahead with Predictive Maintenance
One of the primary reasons field service has always been costly is because it is a reactive service. Technicians are called once an issue has already appeared, leaving customers stressed, angry, and displeased with their service from the get-go. To remedy this customer service nightmare and save money on repairs, companies should begin a predictive maintenance regimen.
No one knows how your products and systems work better than you, so it stands to reason that you know how frequently they need tweaking or updating. Implement predictive maintenance based on this schedule, on the data you collect, and on the insights generated from your IoT devices and tools.
IoT technologies are helping companies monitor the performance and health of equipment. IoT-enabled tools send reports and alerts back to your field service technicians so they can immediately remedy any issue and provide maintenance to your equipment. This allows your company to proactively make any repairs or updates needed to prevent service outages or equipment downtime, generating field service revenues and keeping customers happy.
Automate Your Processes
Time is money, and that couldn’t be more true than in the field service industry. To save you time, thus generating field service revenue, automation is essential. To help you with your automation efforts, consider implementing a field service automation software program, which can help you oversee nearly every time-consuming task – technician dispatch, scheduling, inventory management, contracts, and more.
A way to better leverage your automated systems and all the information they contain is to outfit your technicians with mobile devices. According to Gartner, by 2020, more than 75% of field service organizations with over 50 users will deploy mobile apps that go beyond simplified data collection and add capabilities that help technicians succeed.
The software you use for automation can generate and deliver real-time instructions for their work, giving them the tools they need to succeed where and when they need them. You can update schedules, monitor their routes, and even make field-based sales through your technicians with mobile devices linked to your automated systems.
Data, Data, Data
A powerful data analytics system is vital for achieving an outcome-based model for field service. Data will give you real and even real-time information about all facets of your field service operations – employee performance and productivity, the customer experience, ROI, product function, and device malfunction – can be monitored.
A Field Service Management (FSM) system will help you leverage the data you collect into actionable insights for your company, so you can make decisions and adjustments backed by real data. A study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times as likely to retain customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result.
How to Start the Transition
Even with the capabilities of IoT, automation, and data analytics, many field service companies have yet to turn their field service into a profit-generating line of business. In fact, 52% of field service companies still do things manually.
Hitachi Solutions has a three-step process it recommends to help field service companies transform their operations and monetize their service.
Begin by consolidating core customer and field service systems into an end-to-end cloud-based system. Processes should be standardized across the business and simple automation can be implemented to boost productivity. All service technicians should have access to a native mobile application to log activities, maintain a schedule, and equip users with relevant and up-to-date information relevant to the work order.
Next, you must integrate your data and devices with a cloud-based system to deliver data-driven insights and predictive analytics. With all the information on a single platform, you have a 360-degree view into customers, and can use that information to optimize scheduling, deliver preventative maintenance, and identify new areas to further improve.
This is where you can be on the cutting edge of the industry, deploying the latest technologies to generate revenue and get ahead of competitors. With real-time visibility of equipment and operations in the field, you can deliver differentiated, proactive service to customers.
Hitachi Solutions can help you begin to optimize, connect, and innovate your field service offerings. Our full suite of field service solutions can handle every aspect of the transformation, and help you learn how to best leverage the data now at your fingertips. To find out more about Hitachi Solutions for Field Service, contact one of our representatives.