There is little doubt that a great customer experience helps field service organisations move towards the goal of customer success and ultimately a profitable business. To this end, the importance of service excellence and quality assurance should be the goal of all field engineers on every visit.
Technology will play an important role in ensuring quality assurance and given tumultuous operating conditions encountered in the past few years this has no doubt been accelerated. Its important that the multitude of technologies are implemented in the most proficient way to help achieve service excellence.
Not only is technology changing the makeup of service teams is also evolving to meet the ever changing requirements of customers. Its vital that field service engineers are armed with access to the knowledge and tools required to ensure they can deliver and excellent service.
To begin we are considering what is the role of technology in ensuring quality assurance within field service operations.
For Sean Sadler, Sales Director Europe and APAC, SimPRO its vital to move to cloud based technology.
“After speaking with hundreds of field service business owners, one of the most common issues they’ve all shared is the frustration with outdated or manual processes holding engineers back from providing the best quality service on site. To fix it you really need cloud-based technology. Cloud-based technology like job management software, lets every member of your team access full job data from anywhere, at any time. As a result, they can react better and faster to asset and site conditions in order to deliver the best service to customers right from the start.” Explains Sadler
“Along with cloud-based technology, mobile applications are vital for any field service business looking to streamline operations while maintaining exceptional quality assurance.” Adds Sadler
“For example, SimPRO customers use the mobile app for fast and accurate quality assurance. Engineers use their tablet or phone to perform pre and post-work audits and collect customer signatures for approval on-site. All of this information also updates in real-time so that both the office and the field have accurate data about the job or project at their fingertips at all times.” Sadler highlights.
Sarah Nicastro, Vice President of Customer Advocacy, IFS explains “Today’s technologies make it possible for field service organizations to ensure a quality experience each and every visit, whether remote or on-site. Consider what goes into quality service: awareness of what it is that needs to be accomplished; aligning a capable technician and, for physical visits, ensuring availability of any necessary parts or inventory; providing access to customer history, repair documentation and instructions, and help from peers or company experts as needed; and post-service follow up to confirm a positive customer experience.”
Nicastro adds “One of the most important elements in quality assurance is providing your field workers with access to any and all knowledge they need to achieve the intended outcome. This means a user-friendly platform from which to view all data relevant to the customer they’re visiting, a library of knowledge to aid in repair, and the ability to remotely engage with a peer or back-office support if they get stuck and need assistance. Whether you’ve delivered service remotely or on-site, following up with the customer to get feedback on the experience allows you to gauge your success in delivery quality and correct as needed to improve.“
The importance of AI is key according to Nicastro “Leading service organizations are taking advantage of sophisticated tools like artificial intelligence to make access to relevant knowledge easier on frontline workers, merged reality to allow “hands on” assistance from experts not physically present, and automated post-service surveys to continually monitor success. What makes for even higher quality is as much cohesiveness among these systems as possible – the more you can streamline the use of these tools for your frontline workforce, the better the experience from the customer perspective.”
Sasha Wang, Head of Sales and Marketing, Durabook highlights that the pandemic has expedited the digital transformation “The pandemic has helped many companies realize that harnessing digital transformation can improve quality and support automation across their work processes. Adopting this new technology enables greater operational capabilities and, as mobile devices develop, rugged laptops and rugged tablets are playing an increasingly important role in this evolution.
“New value-added mobile solutions and technologies are empowering enterprises to become ‘smart’ and ensure the quality performance of field engineers. With rugged devices integrated into a company’s IT system, edge computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), quality and reliability is increased whilst waste and failures are reduced.” Wang adds
“The adoption of these devices is also improving quality through connectivity. Greater visibility of the company’s workforce, processes, equipment, and field service operation has a direct impact on quality control, improving response times and minimizing errors.
“It is predicted that automation will have an increasingly essential role in field service operations. For example, data collected from the fields via rugged laptops and tablets are relayed back to the data center and can be analyzed to prevent potential failures in the future. Leveraging quality data can be used to predict future outcomes, identify trends and drive continuous improvements, which are the most vital benefits of new technology.” Wang continues.
“Similarly, AI will increasingly become embedded in the work process to boost quality outcomes, make predictions and prescriptions. Early adopters are starting to recognize how AI can improve a mobile workforce’s outcome and reduce the number of human errors while cutting costs and operational downtime. “
In summary, Wang says, “new technology is bringing field service operations to a whole new level that can drastically improve organizational performance and quality.“
As the field workforce evolves the importance of empowering the engineer to have the right access to the knowledge they need when on site is highlighted.
Matthew Bridge, Pres Sales Director UK, OverIT explains “The workforce of field service is shifting, as many retiring experts leave a gap in the tribal knowledge of organizations. With an influx of new frontline workers, field engineers will need additional support to carry out tasks while they are upskilling in the industry. Having access to knowledge is important for all technicians, especially real-time information.
“To ensure the quality, safety, and productivity of the work, digital guidance can be used. Beyond just managing work orders, crews are required to visualize data and read technical documents while performing manual operations. For example, our customer H-ON Consulting uses a knowledge repository where information can be pulled quickly providing multimedia content, datasheets, schematics, virtual checklists, and instructions. All this information can be accessed on a wearable device while technicians use their hands to perform tasks. The knowledge repository can be accessed anywhere, anytime through a click or voice command. Using Machine Learning, the virtual archive can transcribe the interactions recorded, automatically tag images, videos, documents, and recommend materials based on the task being completed.” Bridge continues.
Another element to guarantee access Bridge explains is “the knowledge they need and support onsite quality is remote collaboration. Engineers can leverage the knowledge of an offsite expert who is ready to help, sharing the information or guidance required. OverIT provides advanced collaboration for connecting expert technicians with customers. H-ON Consulting is supported in conducting inspections and compliance checks on industrial products remotely by relying on real-time sharing of audio-video streaming, product forms, and AR-powered annotations. Furthermore, innovative Knowledge Management features enable real-time recording of interactions like compliance checks, which are stored to serve as a tool for staff training, and certification.
“Overall, technicians are empowered to have access to knowledge by innovative solutions capable of machine learning and digital archives, keeping workers up to date with necessary information.”
Sean Sadler adds “Giving field engineers accurate context and information is the first step to an exceptional customer experience that drives repeat business.
“Cloud-based mobile applications now available for field service businesses allow engineers access to job, customer and site data before they even step foot on-site. I’ve heard business owners share how advantageous it is that their engineers can instantly log customer notes and approvals, upsell and even take payment all on-site, empowering them to deliver comprehensive, customer-centric service every time.” Sadler continues.
The same approach to quality assurance should be taken in both remote and on-site service delivery and technology is key to this.
Sean Sadler, Simpro advocates “that a consistent level of accurate quality assurance, regardless if done remotely or on-site, is vital for field service businesses that want to offer the best service and overall experience to their customers. Remotely monitoring assets allows businesses to meet customers’ needs without stepping foot outside the office. But in order to do so, it’s vital to have the right technology in place. For example, SimPRO’s IoT solution allows teams to remotely monitor the status of in-field assets and can also send them an alert automatically the moment an asset fails.”
“As a result, staff can react quickly and easily schedule and dispatch an engineer for service all within one central platform.” Explains Sadler
As we can see technology is key to quality assurance and ensuring excellence on every visit, especially the use of AI.
- Read more about FSM Technology
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- Read more about Durabook on Field Service News
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- Read more about SimPRO on Field Service News
- Read more about IFS on Field Service News
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