When field service processes run smoothly, customers are happy and loyal and profits increase. And when service calls are managed properly, field service is transformed from a cost center to a revenue center.
But optimizing field service processes requires well-executed system integration. Automating systems and business processes cuts down on redundant processes and makes field service personnel much more efficient.
Keeping Truck Rolls to a Minimum
One of the best ways to increase efficiency is to create and maintain a regular schedule of upcoming preventive maintenance tasks. That allows technicians to perform all equipment maintenance tasks while they are at the customer site. By integrating other enterprise systems such as ERP and CRM with a field service management (FSM) suite like ServiceMax, it’s possible to eliminate unnecessary customer visits and save money.
Another way to avoid unnecessary visits is to ensure that technicians have everything they need to do the job, including parts and materials and all proper service procedures. All of this information requires up-to-date data from customer files, equipment inventory records, personnel files, and finance.
In addition, service managers can deploy mobile applications to make the best use of field technicians’ time while they are at the customer site. Mobile apps help to accelerate job estimates, signatory approvals, order processing and payment. In order to provide this functionality on the move, FSM software needs to run on mobile devices and integrate with back-end systems, including warehouse management, inventory management and other CRM and ERP systems.
Automating Work Order Processes
System integration can help service leaders more efficiently manage work orders and cut the time it takes to resolve customers’ problems. By integrating customer and service systems, service leaders can, for example, eliminate the need for time-consuming (and error-prone) double entry in different systems.
Service leaders could take this automation a step further by eliminating manual data entry altogether. An IoT-enabled machine can sense a malfunction and automatically generate a work order. With APIs, it’s possible to integrate with any connected device. The entire billing process can also be automated by integrating the work order system, ERP system and invoicing system
We Still Have a Way to Go
Converting field service departments from a cost center to a revenue center is dependent on system integration — and there are still companies that haven’t completed the process.
Gartner’s 2016 Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management report predicted that during the next five years, 80 percent of organizations with more than 75 field technicians will lose 20 percent of efficiency gains because they will not have completely integrated or deployed their systems.
System integration, in addition to providing the information field service organizations need to compete, is also a requirement to be ready for future innovation. With the dawn of IoT, sensors on machines can now predict equipment failures and proactively alert technicians. Receiving, processing and acting on this data has its own integration requirements.
These are just a few of the ways that system integration can boost the quality of customer service, turning your field service center into a revenue channel. Automating field service, every step along the way, can be the key to providing excellent customer service and creating a competitive advantage that results in improved loyalty and profitability.
I understand how integrating field service automation with other enterprise software can improve productivity and profitability by moving maintenance from a reactive to a proactive model and how IoT can catch problems before they become expensive problems to fix, but I don’t understand from your article how that transforms field service from a cost center to a _revenue channel_. Could you please explain that? Where does this new revenue come from, and how does it offset the built-in costs of the field service operation?
If you have a few minutes to reply I would be grateful.