As manufacturers continue to shift field service operations from the traditional break/fix model to a proactive, revenue-generating outcome-based service model, service technicians are a critical source for identifying new value-add sales and service opportunities to offer customers.

But how can a manufacturer enable service technicians to quickly and easily capture customer intelligence and potential sales opportunities without distracting them from their primary purpose – delivering service?

Let’s take a look at how a Power App developed by Hitachi Solutions enabled one of our manufacturing customers to do just that in only two weeks.

Our Customer’s Challenge

Our customer manufacturers, installs, and services industrial piping and valve control equipment inside factories and power plants. As part of their service, the manufacturer sends technicians to their customers’ plants and factories to perform maintenance on their equipment.

Since their technicians are always present at customers’ plants, the technicians often have early visibility into the condition and status of the other pieces of equipment in the plant – age, any existing or possible issues, when equipment looks like it might fail, and so forth. That visibility means that they can also identify potential sales opportunities for additional maintenance services, or for full equipment replacements.

The manufacturer tried several solutions in the past, but without much success. Those previous solutions presented many different challenges, such as requiring time-consuming data entry out in the field, or were not usable on a mobile device, or did not work offline.

The Solution: The “Walk the Plant” Power App

Hitachi Solutions proposed and implemented a Power App that offers the technicians a user-friendly experience for noting the potential sales opportunities arising from existing equipment in the plant. This app helps technicians to:

  • Quickly and easily enter information with minimal disruption, from their mobile device
  • Work offline in situations where technicians can’t guarantee an internet connection while on customer premises
  • Automatically synchronize captured information with Dynamics 365 for Sales (the manufacturer’s CRM system), thus helping to instantly initiate and follow through on a lead or opportunity

Through the capabilities of Power Apps and Dynamics 365, the manufacturer now a powerful way to effectively capture information and easily manage the sales lifecycle of new leads and opportunities.

Benefits our customer has seen using the Power App include:

  • Fast time to value: The low code, low cost approach of Power Apps enabled our customer to go from initial concept to go-live in only two weeks – a timeline that simply was not achievable with any previous solution! Because of Power Apps’s flexibility and ease of use, they had the ability to quickly create different iterations of the app and get feedback from the field right away.
  • Automated information transfer: No toggling back-and-forth between different systems – data captured by the app is immediately available and accessible in Dynamics 365 through the Common Data Service. The ability to initiate and execute automatic sales work flows, notifications, and lead and opportunity follow-up has been invaluable to our customer.
  • Simple, intuitive user experience: Technicians in the field don’t need to worry that documenting potential sales opportunities will take them away from the existing service task at-hand. With the ability to use their mobile devices, and guided by straightforward action prompts, technicians can quickly and easily capture all the data they need with just a few clicks of a button.

Demo: How the “Walk the Plant” Power App Works

Let’s take a look at a real-life example of how a technician uses the Power App. You can either take a look at our demo video below, or keep reading to learn more.

In this scenario, I’m playing the role of a technician walking around a customer’s plant. I’m going to see a piece of equipment that looks like a good candidate for a replacement, which means there’s a potential sales opportunity for my company.

So my starting point is this home screen:

Power App Service Technicians Blog Screenshot

I can see past opportunities that I put in the system, and the plus sign at the bottom is where I can create a brand-new opportunity. There are also built-in filtering and search capabilities, as well as a sync button that allows me to sync records that I created offline back into Dynamics 365 for Sales.

When I’m ready to enter a new opportunity, I start by creating a new opportunity and adding some basic information – such as date, time, location:

Power App Service Technicians Blog Screenshot

For our scenario today, I’ll select “Boilerhouse Asset” as the type of equipment that this opportunity will pertain to:

Power App Service Technicians Blog Screenshot

When I select “Boilerhouse Assets”, I’m now presented with a series of prompts and contextual questions:

Power App Service Technicians Blog Screenshot

What these prompts are designed to do is to allow me as a technician to easily identify the key issues that I may have either noticed or detected with that particular piece of equipment as I was walking around the plant. And then from here, I can understand the relevant information I need to ensure that the issue is well-documented.

Let’s say I notice that the safety valves are weeping, so I select this option. The app presents us with additional contextual questions and areas to add more information:

Power App Service Technicians Blog Screenshot

We can also add general information on top of customer-specific information, such as our understanding of key initiatives, projects, goals, and objectives:

Power App Service Technicians Blog Screenshot

We can also add pictures, captions, notes, media information, as well as additional technical information – any level of detail that I feel is appropriate for ensuring my team understands the equipment connected with this particular opportunity:

Power App Service Technicians Blog Screenshot

Power App Service Technicians Blog Screenshot

This information is then brought into our CRM system, thanks to Common Data Service. So here we’re seeing the same information we entered in the app – pictures, text, and notes – but in Dynamics 365 for Sales:

Power App Service Technicians Blog Screenshot

Our sales team can view this information and follow-up accordingly, and hopefully convert the opportunity I entered into a win for the company.

Get Started Today

Our manufacturing customer has been very pleased with what they’ve been able to achieve with their Power Apps and Dynamics 365 solution, benefiting both from rapid user adoption and extremely high satisfaction among those users. Our customer is now planning on expanding app usage across the globe, and is anticipating the same high levels of effectiveness and adoption rates from teams throughout different geographies.

If you have questions on how to empower your service technicians with Power Apps, or if you’re ready to get started, please contact Hitachi Solutions today and we’ll be happy to help.