Field Services - Types, Challenges, & More

The data-driven world has forced every industry to expand its business model to adapt to growing customer demands. Manufacturers have been most impacted, as automation no longer requires human labor for many of their processes.

Instead of throwing in the towel, many service companies have found success by using self service FSM software and machine learning to their advantage. A strategic action plan that employs data collection, embedded sensors, and analytics can attract more customers and harness new revenue streams.

Service organizations who incorporate field work as part of their business model have also expanded their services and implemented mobile field solutions or other technologies to maintain profitability. Read ahead for an overview of field work and the biggest challenges facing the industry.

What Are Field Services?

Field services refers to work performed at the property of customers as opposed to on-site. In field work, a certified technician installs, repairs, or manages a company-related product at a customer location.

For example, an internet service provider may employ field workers to assist in repairing or installing internet service at a customer's house. Or, a fire and safety company may set up hydrants at specific locations to ensure compliance with industry-related regulations.

Over time, field services have evolved from being only a form of customer service to a profitable and growing enterprise in and of itself.

Field Service Activities

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The field service industry contains different activities and components, which include-

1. Installation
Field service operators receive work orders and then dispatch a qualified field technician to customer locations. A field worker must make certain that the piece of equipment is fully functional upon installation.

This requires scheduling, dispatching and route optimization from the back office. The installation process sets a standard for any repairs, changes, or maintenance that occurs in the future. Operators also have a responsibility to optimize the work order management process by streamlining the entire installation process from start to finish.

2. Maintenance
Over time, more organizations are prioritizing preventative maintenance to mitigate future problems. Maintenance activities can be corrective, preventative, or proactive. Corrective maintenance repairs a piece of equipment that has broken down, preventative maintenance schedules inspections to prevent breakdowns, and proactive maintenance predicts future problems by reviewing notes and performing data analysis through management software.

3. Adoption
Field service technicians offer expertise so customers can gain the most benefits from their product and achieve desired results. Technician job requirements also include providing consultations and recommendations, which may necessitate selling new services or products.

Field Service Challenges

Field service operators have many responsibilities to ensure customers receive the best results from their purchased product. Scheduling dispatch, inventory management, handling a work order, providing preventative maintenance, and following up with customers are just a few of the requirements in managing field work.

Streamlining and optimizing this process requires a service business to wear several hats and employing automated software solutions. As technology has evolved, new demands are placed on manufacturers who want to stay profitable by providing a management service. These include -

1. Enhancing the Customer-Supplier Relationship

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Customers anticipate that field service operators assist them in achieving a set of desired results. Traditionally, operators were responsible for making a product, selling it, and shipping it. Any installation or repair services that were offered were minimal and a very small part of a much larger operation.

As warranties became more common, companies offered additional services at no cost. Because customer demands for field services have grown, operators need new ways to stay profitable. It's no longer feasible to simply rely on the revenue from equipment sales. Companies must revamp their business model by offering additional desired field services at a cost.

2. Digital Transformation and the Value of Products

Digital technology can now solve many of the problems that once required a technician. The best field service companies know to collect real time data through a service management solution or ioT because it is more valuable than the price of the equipment itself.

By using new technologies to optimize the data collection processes, manufacturers can overcome the losses caused by the digital transformation and maintain profitability. Operators must implement a new business model with an action plan that further monetizes ioT services.

3. Gaining the Full Benefits of Data Collection

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Industrial manufacturers have new avenues to optimize customer needs with their products by employing ioT. Often referred to as the Internet of Things iot, it is a system of related objects that can gather and deliver data to a wireless network without needing a person to mediate the process.

Embedded sensors placed in equipment can collect performance data, pinpoint problem areas, and deliver insight into optimization opportunities. Many manufacturers have not gained the full benefits of employing a ioT strategy because they aren't sure how to make sense of the data or use it to their benefit.

A revamped, data-driven business model is needed to align manufacturers with field service software and other 21st-century technology to gain the most profit, keep current clients satisfied, and attract new markets.

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, here are the key takeaways to remember about field service types and challenges-

  • Field services include the repairing and installing of a company-related piece of equipment on customer property. Over the years, field service management is now a profitable and growing enterprise in and of itself, rather than simply a form of customer service.
  • Types of field service work include equipment installation, preventative/corrective/proactive maintenance, and further consultations. Operators must optimize workforce management to ensure this process is streamlined. Technicians should also have basic sales training to offer additional services/products to meet customer demands.
  • Challenges in field service management include further optimizing the customer/supplier relationship, managing the digital transformation by utilizing service management software and other technologies, and gaining the most benefits from data collection through a management solution. The best field companies employ a revamped business model that prioritizes data collection and analysis is required to maintain profitability and customer satisfaction.