Marlene R. Kolodziej, AVP, Service Delivery, Northwell Health
The Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and bots are changing how services and support are delivered to customers. Traditionally, technology was only a part of the customer delivery model but now automated solutions are changing field services’ focus from a people-to-people problem-solving process, to a people-to-people value-delivery experience. Today, “smart” connected devices self-monitor and self-heal, while real-time analytics provide predictive maintenance to remotely diagnose and repair equipment, reducing the need for on-site break/fix services from field service representatives.
This is good news because it creates an opportunity to allocate field service resources in a way that delivers enhanced value for customers.
Value #1: Invest resources in process and product redesign. Generally, field services resources are closest to the customer and have deep product knowledge. The combination of these attributes lends itself to redeploying these same resources to help engineers and designers improve technical solutions, enhance the manufacturing process, and deliver more effective maintenance, resulting in increased value to the customer. These design changes will result in the generation of new technology, requiring a different field services’ skill set and creating a perpetual learning cycle for knowledge and growth. Ultimately, this new cycle of technical change will require continual education and training for the employee. That is a good thing because it will provide value back to both the corporation through a trained workforce with advanced skill-sets, and also to customers who will receive greater technical support expertise.
Automation, coupled with field service resource management and the ability to deliver the “right” resource to that customer, will deliver enhanced value
Value #2: Match the right resource to the right job. Automation will not eliminate the need to provide onsite field service support, but what if that technology can be used to deliver a great customer experience? Management software can provide efficient routing, troubleshooting and fleet services, resulting in cost-effective service delivery, but what about the customer experience and employee satisfaction? There are benefits to be realized there as well. Automation, coupled with field service resource management and the ability to deliver the “right” resource to the customer, will deliver enhanced value. Field service resources that can deliver the right solution the first time not only creates a positive customer interaction, but also provides increased employee satisfaction and performance.
Value #3: Prevention not reaction. Automation can result in preventative outcomes, eliminating the need for physical resource deployment into the field, or deploying a lower-cost resource to repair a minor event. Preventing service calls not only reduces the cost of service, but also decreases the impact to the failed component. A preventative repair circumvents more costly physical component repairs, saving the customer from production-impacting outages. Value from preventative activities can also be gained by proactively deploying and managing security-related activities, eliminating the reaction of using field services resources to counter the impact of a security breach.
Value #4: Availability of industry-standard field service resources. Not all field services resources are company employees. They can be contractors, consultants, or a combination. Using technology to deliver support and service leads to industry-standard support solutions. When field services and support is needed, a model of repeatable activities provides consistent service delivery, opening up the opportunity for corporations to access a pool of resources to provide excellent customer service in their desired industry or specialty. This creates a more fluid service delivery model, matching resources to need and results in improved customer service while managing cost.
There is little doubt that automation provides value to customers and corporations in a number of ways, and also provides value to the service industry and those field services resources supporting technology. Instead of looking at automation as having a negative impact on field services resources, changing the mindset to see how it eliminates non-value added tasks and better realizes value from the resource itself is the key. By viewing the role of field service resources through this lens, it becomes clear that automation increases the value of field services resources for employees, corporations and the customers they serve.