Field service management continues to grow and evolve as we start 2020. Maytag may have its “Lonely Repair Man,” but for most companies that sell and service products, field service is a vital part of the business. It can be a profit center, while remaining a consistent favorite for cost cutting and drives for increased efficiency. With that in mind, consider the following field service management trends on deck for 2020.
In 2020, Field Service Is the Brand
What makes a great brand? For products that require maintenance, field service is one of the most important elements of building and reinforcing the brand. It’s easy to have a good brand when you’re selling new products. How you support them in the field is where brands can live or die. A customer who has a bad experience with a field service technician will become a negative brand influencer—a costly problem that’s nearly impossible to solve.
Unfortunately, it’s also not that hard to damage a brand with deficient field service. A technician who is late, doesn’t have the right parts, take too long to fix the product… and on and on…will do more to change the brand image than any advertising campaign. Even minor issues like not having the customer’s name correctly spelled can negatively affect the brand. As competition heats up from online merchants, field service as a brand ambassador becomes an even more critical issue. Field service is where a brick and mortar brand can excel.
Field Service Is a Growing Business in 2020
Field service is undergoing a growth spurt. Industry data projects that the industry will grow from a current gross revenue of $2.8 billion to almost $6 billion in four years. Drivers of this growth increase include factors like preventive maintenance contracts and the use of predictive maintenance technology. The latter is able to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to predict mechanical breakdowns and dispatch field service technicians before a problem occurs.
Software Will Continue to be Everything, Except When It’s Not
You might be surprised to learn that fewer than half of businesses use software to manage their field service departments. There are good reasons to use software for field service management. Modern Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, especially cloud-hosted variants, usually come with feature-rich field service management modules. These solutions enable route optimization, service call preparation (e.g. picking parts) and seamless integration with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and accounting systems.
In our experience working with field service departments, the implementation of ERP can have many positive benefits. These include greater efficiency, which leads to higher profits. Customer satisfaction, that driver of brand image, also usually increases with addition of a sophisticated but easy-to-use software package.
So, why aren’t 100% of field service organizations using ERP software to manage their operations? The simple answer is that they haven’t decided to budget for it. Or, they’re still managing with an old system. However, in some cases, the company isn’t ready for software. Manual processes may still be best in certain scenarios.
We see this pretty often, especially in organizations that support highly customized or old products in the field. There can be nuances of field service that are difficult to map into software workflows. For example, the service tech may know that an older model of a product has a tendency to leak in a certain spot, and he knows how to fix it without a spare part—then multiply this sort of institutional knowledge times a thousand. The challenge is to discover these business process details and put them into the system in an intuitive way. The shift from manual to automated field service management can take some time, though it’s almost always worth it.
2020 Will Feature More Mobile and IoT
Field service management will involve more mobile technology and Internet of Things (IoT) devices in the coming year. This trend is already well underway. Field techs are increasingly using mobile computers to handle their schedules and guide them through service calls. With the right software, the mobile field service technology is completely tied into the company’s main operational systems. That way, for example, the tech can see the complete customer history, billing status and more before going on a service call.
The IoT is surfacing in the form of digital sensors that monitor equipment in the field. The predictive maintenance mentioned above is typically executed using remote monitoring of IoT devices. For example, an oil rig could have dozens of temperature and pressure sensors, each reporting data back to a central predictive maintenance system.
Get to Know Acumatica Field Service Management in 2020
2020 is a great year to think about moving manual field service to software or updating old software to new, cloud-based ERP for field service management. We have worked with many companies on this process. To learn more about how we do this, contact us today.