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Comprehensive Guide to Field Service Software: Page 2

By Drew Robb     Feedback
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In this guide we answer key questions such as:

Who Buys Field Service Software?

Common characteristics of companies that purchase field service software include:

  • need to install, check, repair or maintain on-premise systems or equipment
  • have a large installed base of devices that are serviced by field technicians
  • experience challenges in providing top-class customer service
  • want to reduce field service costs through predictive and preventative maintenance

How is Field Service Management Changing?

Traditionally, FSM was done using spreadsheets and manual processes. This wasted time and money and left customers in the dark about when their appointment would happen. Some field service management solutions provided basic automation of the scheduling process but did not truly optimize field service operations.

Today, field service software goes beyond automation to optimize the routing and scheduling of field resources. With emerging trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile technology and cloud computing, field resources can access critical customer and appointment information before they arrive on site. They can query a knowledge base for more information or collaborate with their team from their mobile devices.

[See how one company created its own field service app: Mobile App Eases ATM Field Service]

Another aspect of change affecting field service is a shift in the way customers view service.

"Customers remain loyal to brands that offer low-effort interaction," Kresch said. "Service organizations that embrace emerging trends grow top-line revenue and increase wallet share."

Athani Krishnaprasad, co-founder and chief strategy officer of ServiceMax, said a customer recently told him that more than 70 percent of his customer interactions/touchpoints come through the field service technicians who show up to service machinery.

"Companies are seizing this opportunity and using these interactions to promote new products, take orders for products and consumables, advise customers on product upgrades and overhauls, capture intel on competitor products to create sales pipeline, and in general develop a trusted advisor relationship with the customer base," Krishnaprasad said.

As a result, modern FSM is a lot more than just technicians making repairs. Its main purpose today is enabling companies to foster customer loyalty, evolve their business models and achieve operational effectiveness that leads to delivering outcomes to customers, rather than mere fixes.

What Is Driving Interest in Field Service Software?

The consumer world has gotten used to sophisticated mobile applications. Now it is the turn of business apps, with field service management software in the forefront.

"The Uberization of the workforce and an everything-as-a-service economy are major trends driving a strong interest in field service software," Kretch said.

Traditional field service management solutions emphasize the system of record. The latest generation, however, is adopting a customer-at-the-center approach based on intuitive contextual apps that offer real-time access to information that may live in many different systems.

"The new battleground for FSM is service margins and customer retention due to eroding product margins and increase in competition," said Paulo Arnaldo, director of Product Management at Kony. "With millennials replacing the previous generation of technicians, this has increased demand for mobile apps."

According to Gartner, there will be nearly 20.8 billion connected devices by 2020. We’re heading toward an era in which field service workers will have so much information in the palm of their hands.

"In today's hyper-connected world, every company is expected to provide a seamless customer experience while also increasing internal efficiency," said Sarah Patterson, SVP of Marketing at Salesforce Service Cloud.

How Should You Evaluate Field Service Software?

Tips for evaluating and selecting field service software include:

  • Understand the technology stack behind each provider's offer
  • Find out how field service software app integrates with the back-end
  • Inquire about long-term support for apps as mobile technology changes constantly
  • Identify your organization's field service challenges and goals; make sure the applications you choose will help you with them
  • Consider your organization's mobile strategy and pick a field service management tool that aligns with it
  • To avoid high development and implementation costs, seek out off-the-shelf field service apps or plug-ins that can easily provide the needed functionality
  • Insist upon collaboration between internal and external parties
  • Look for mobile apps that don't depend only on Wi-Fi, and offer a central mobile management console for updates across platforms
  • When considering deployment models -- cloud, SaaS, private cloud or other -- "Look for a flexible approach to deployment that can accommodate changing needs at a reasonable price," Kresch advised
This article was originally published on June 29, 2016
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