Best Practices Field Service Organizations (FSOs) Use an Expanded Variety of Tools and Technologies to Directly Support Their Field Techs and Customers

(Drill-down Results from SFGSMs 2014 Field Service Management Benchmark Survey – Part 6)

A three-quarters majority of Best Practices organizations (i.e., 75% or more) currently support their field technicians with a variety of online capabilities, including the ability to track and update the current status of work orders (86%), the ability to initiate service orders (81%), access to customer/asset service history (76%), and access to product schematics/documentation (76%). This generally compares to a two-thirds or greater (i.e., 67% or more) majority among the general population. Ability to provide customers with an Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) / Estimated Time to Complete (ETC) is additionally cited by a 65% majority of respondents.

Other capabilities currently being provided by a majority of Best Practice organizations to their respective field technicians include:

  • 60% Access to real-time parts inventory / availability
  • 56% Availability of required parts, either in van or en route
  • 56% Access to problem resolution scenarios

Whether it is access to data and information that represents the past (i.e., customer/asset history), the present (i.e., current status of work orders), or the future (i.e., providing customers with an ETA / ETC), the Best Practices organizations already recognize the importance of real-time data and information access.

However, the key to success for most Best Practices organizations is that they are also providing their customers with a comparable set of online tools to make both their – and their field technician’s – lives much easier. By providing customers with the right mix of Web-enabled self-help capabilities, the leading organizations have essentially been able to run their respective services operations more effectively, while also increasing existing levels of satisfaction by allowing customers to become part of their own “support team”.

The primary online capabilities currently provided to customers of Best Practices organizations include:

  • 71% Ability to order parts (up from 65% among the general population)
  • 65% Ability to view current status of work order (up from 59%)
  • 63% Ability to initiate / create service tickets online (up from 59%)
  • 58% Ability to update status of current work order (up from 55%)
  • 46% Ability to track service parts shipping status (up from 45%)

By making the customer part of the service delivery team, Best Practices organizations can continue to benefit from reduced time and cost-related factors – while increasing existing levels of customer satisfaction. Customer access to online service order data and information is clearly a “win-win” scenario for both parties.

However, the greatest impact on the future of Field Service Management is most likely to come as a result of the growing acceptance of Cloud-based technology. The results may be somewhat surprising to some, as they suggest that there is little difference between Best Practices organizations and the general population with respect to their preferences for how they will be acquiring their next (or first) FSM solution and/or upgrade – the vast majority seem to be leaning toward a Cloud-based solution (i.e., by a ratio of nearly 3:1).

Among those Best Practices organizations currently planning an FSM implementation in the next 12 months (or considering doing so in the next 24 months), a Cloud-based solution is preferred by 56% of respondents, compared to only 19% citing a preference for Premise-based. Another one-quarter (25%) remain undecided at this time. The corresponding percentages for the general population are virtually identical at 54% preferring Cloud-based, 20% preferring Premise-based, and 26% undecided – a corresponding ratio of 2.7:1 in favor of Cloud.

In the two years since the previous Field Service Management Benchmark was conducted, this represents a sea-change from a market that historically had gone Premise-based for a majority of its Field Service Management software solution needs. As such, the Cloud now allows some of the smaller FSOs to attain – and maintain – Best Practices status and, in many cases, compete directly against the historical market leaders who had previously been the only ones invited to join this elite group.

Based on the results of SFG’s 2014 Field Service Management Benchmark Survey, the key takeaways for Best Practices FSOs are:

  • Best Practices services organizations are significantly more driven than the general population of Field Services Organizations (FSOs) to meet their respective customer demands for quicker response time and improved asset availability; improved workforce utilization, productivity and efficiencies; and increased service revenues.
  • A majority of Best Practices organizations are adding, expanding and/or refining the metrics, or KPIs, they use to measure service performance; they also use a larger variety of KPIs to measure their performance than do their non-Best Practices counterparts.
  • Over the next 12 months, more than 84% of Best Practices organizations will have integrated new technologies into their existing field service operations, and roughly three-quarters (74%) will have invested in mobile tools to support their field technicians.
  • Best Practices organizations are increasingly providing their Field Technicians with enhanced access to real-time data and information to support them in the field; they are also taking the lead in providing customers with an expanded variety of Web-enabled self-help capabilities (i.e., ability to order parts or initiate service calls, track the status of open calls, etc.).
  • Best Practices organizations are currently attaining the industry’s highest levels of Customer Satisfaction and Service Profitability (i.e., 95% satisfaction, and 49.6% service profitability).
  • Best Practices organizations are no different in their preference for Cloud-based FSM solutions – in fact, they share the same preference for Cloud as the general population of services organizations.

In 2014 and beyond, the proliferation of Cloud-based FSM solutions may serve to further normalize the competitive playing field between Best Practices organizations and all others with respect to their ability to use the same tools to reach out to, and serve, their customers. However, the larger enterprises that have already mastered attaining Best Practices status are likely to still maintain a marketing and competitive advantage based at least on their getting there first, and having already dealt with most of the other issues that have historically impeded the ability of smaller organizations to rise to the top.

 

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