The global field services market is expected to grow at 16.5 % CAGR to reach $4.45 billion according to a Gartner study. And at the same time, 38% of the field services technicians were not able to access all the required information to complete the service request, And to add to this, The Service Council believes that the average first time fix rate for a field service organization (FSO) currently is between 75-79% as against the expected minimum of 90%, to achieve the bare minimum customer satisfaction. The solution? A Field Service Management Software is the emerging solution to curb this wide gap between the opportunities available and the resources at one’s disposal currently.
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Simply put, a field service management software is the system that improves the efficiency of the concerned FSO, by minimizing the human interaction and optimizing the entire value chain of the field services with automated AI assistance.
It should be noted that not so long ago, the entire field services operations scenario was quite different. Back then, the on-field technician would reach the operation site, with either half or miscommunicated information and hence, without the appropriate gear to resolve the issue. This would invariably lead to a second or third visit back and forth the FSO quarters and the site. Most of these issues were because the dispatchers or, the call-center workers, didn’t get the complete information required for the job.
Now, with the advent of the path-breaking technologies and the user-friendliness of AI, the job is easier than ever. One example is an AI design consultancy firm, Philosphie. It has designed an AI-based algorithm, that forecasts various probable scenarios, on the basis of information at hand for a particular customer complaint and predicts whether the job will be successful or cause a return trip. Hence, it has now made the dispatchers’ job easier and has led them to ask the right questions, hence, improving the field services operational efficiency.
Not just that, the AI systems today are also changing how these jobs are scheduled. In FSOs around the world, 90-95% of the field jobs are left for the AI systems to schedule automatically, based on the available resources and their skill sets. This helps the companies in 2 major ways. One, since the jobs are being allocated after screening the technicians against a host of parameters, pre-fed into the AI system, they are an exact match and result in almost 100% success rates. Second, since the manual operators behind scheduling are now free, they can focus more on difficult cases, wherein a personal intervention is demanded, and hence increase the customer satisfaction.
It doesn’t end here, however. The AI has far more applications today. The chatbots are the new trend in the field services market, like everywhere else. The chatbots through the AI designs are programmed to log in the various customer details automatically, as the customer reaches out to them. Since the information is logged in, automatically, the human error factor is reduced to nil. Also, a few advanced chatbots can also be programmed to provide a host of solutions to some generic customer problems, without having to reach an FSO technician, via predictive mechanisms. If the research firm Gartner is to be believed, 40% of enterprises will be actively using chatbots to facilitate business processes using natural-language interactions in the coming years. Invariably, the businesses that are too adamant to this change, will be destroyed, sooner than later. It is a grim reality to sink in, but it is the truth nevertheless.
The AI hasn’t just made the allocation of jobs easier, it has also significantly reduced the lead time of the problem resolution. Because of the automation, the corrective actions by the firms now are prompt and on point, which again leads to higher customer satisfaction rate. Also, with the cutting-edge technologies like IoT at one’s disposal today, the firms are increasingly using the IoT data from the on-site installations, to feed the AI systems and take preventive actions. That is, the system now warns the FSOs, about the imminent failure of a concerned system, before the actual failure. This again has led to overall increased operational efficiency in the field services industry.
Smart mobile applications that track all the problems and equipment usage are the new additions to this arsenal of technological tools, now available with the companies. These applications, now provide real-time analysis of the situation and help the on-field technician, to resolve the issue, by communicating directly with the equipment sensors and then employing the solutions suggested by the AI program working in the back end.
Conclusively, it suffices to say, that the field services will never be the same and the AI is the new kingmaker for the years to come.