The ultimate guide to automating job scheduling in Field Services
The success of the field service business is heavily dependent on the productivity of your field...
The HVAC industry is undergoing a tectonic digital shift. While the trend has been visible for over a decade now, the need has further been accelerated by the ongoing pandemic. A number of small- to mid-sized companies which had not made the digital transition yet had to close shops and the ones who are still struggling to stay afloat unanimously agree that business will perhaps never be the same again, definitely not in the near future.
The field service technicians and engineers have kept the world moving even though a majority adapted to working from home to survive the pandemic. Executives and leaders in the field services management industry had to keep the operations running while adapting to an evolving business environment where almost nothing was certain. While it has accelerated digital transformation for most, many are decoding the trends and the new best practices that can help them prepare for a digital and an uncertain future.
2. Automation- Given companies are operating at skeletal staffing during the pandemic, it is important not just from a cost reduction point of view, but also from a efficiency improvement point of view that organizations invest in automation. Nearly 50% of Field service officers identify automation as the greatest contributor to revenue growth. Automation would allow a lot of repetitive, manual and error-prone tasks to be handed over to bots or machines which would allow the employees to focus on tasks which affect the customer experience.
Automation in field service companies would help them reduce costs significantly not just by reducing manpower requirements but also by driving improvements in efficiency. With the advent of cloud-based field service management software, it has become more accessible to integrate customer data from disparate platforms and legacy systems. These technology solutions offer an array of features to users including licensing history, digital customer interaction, invoicing, technician scheduling, and much more. Automation layers or inbuilt logic take care of the rest and help convert task-intensive manual work be completed by bots.
3. Going data driven - Customer data is among the most important asset for field service management companies. The customer data across all the platforms and core systems could be unified which would provide valuable insights into the unique needs of the customer and personalize your offerings to them.
More and more companies are now using data and analytics to make drastic changes in their processes or services they provide. By effectively using data, companies are focusing on optimizing their service operation methods. The information stored through big data analytics needs to be mined quickly and effectively to turn it into useful information for the companies.
Another important aspect for data to be relevant is the real time availability of the data- across systems and platforms. This would only be possible if the field service application is able to connect with third party applications and internal core systems such that real-time data is available to agents, technicians and management for them to be able to take decisions on the fly which would have a positive impact on the business.
4. Emergence of frontier technologies- IoT among other emerging technologies are making their presence felt in the field services management HVAC industry. Unsurprisingly, with outcome-based service on the rise, field service management teams are using tools for predictive maintenance. IoT’s This sensor technology helps to monitor the normal behaviors of equipment and machines and alert field service management software and technicians when it’s out of typical parameters. It’s a level of field service automation that turns the industry from preventative to predictive.
Because of IoT, field service management businesses can continuously monitor the results of their service. Equipment can be monitored remotely, solutions can be triggered remotely, or automatic dispatch can be completed for service. The results for your customer are less downtime and less worry about their equipment as someone is monitoring their behavior. Field service management teams are moving forward with more IoT deployment because of the outcome-based service contracts they want to perform. It’s making them think of their service life-cycle and how they dispatch their technicians. With field service management software, dispatching and scheduling technicians has become easier. Field service automation, as triggered by IoT, sets in motion the work order management to dispatch cycle. If you’re going to monitor equipment and promise results with IoT, you can’t have a slow cycle for service. It has to be fast, it has to come with a high first-time fix rate and it needs to deliver.
5. Integrated and connected business- Companies in the field services management HVAC industry are fast heading towards what we call as an integrated and connected business, which implies technology has the ability to effectively manage all the disparate stakeholders within one platform. Usually the company’s systems often sit in isolation and do not communicate with each other. This means that the legacy core or ERP systems might not communicate with other applications which the stakeholders (technicians, suppliers or vendors) use. Going forward, HVAC companies are ensuring that the technology seamlessly integrates all systems which would allow real-time availability of data. Effective reporting and dashboards would allow management to make more educated decisions based on data availability. Data could be pulled into from different systems to make decisions based on built-in logic which could then be approved by executives. Eventually the entire business and all its stakeholders would be connected over one single platform which would allow organizations to significantly improve productivity.
6. Improved focus on customer experience and fostering innovation- The pandemic has accelerated the shift in dynamic towards customers in field service organizations. Research reports suggest that maximizing the satisfaction of connected customers has the potential to lift field service company revenues by 15% while lowering the cost of service by 20%. While the trend is already explicitly there, going forward in the post-pandemic era, customer experience would be more important than ever before.
As a Field service business, it is recommended that your company goes through the the activity of mapping the customer journey to understand all the different touchpoints and the channels your customer interacts with you. This would be followed by identifying the pain points in the journey which you would need to prioritize based on the impact it would achieve on the customer journey making it as close to desired as possible.
While these trends definitely indicate how the future of HVAC companies would likely look like, it’s up to you to decide how and to what extend would you want to incorporate some of these learnings to chart the future for yourself. Having a flexible and a customizable HVAC solution like Steer would definitely be a great first step in putting your HVAC company on autopilot.