While visiting a client’s office last week, I ran into a technician from their office equipment service provider. While going about his work in servicing the printer/copier, the technician flipped his smartphone, scanned a couple of bar-codes, tapped the touchscreen a few times and appeared pleased when he saw a call coming in.
Chatting up with him to satisfy my curiosity, I learnt that he just logged another service call within the same building that his company’s custom-developed mobile app ‘magically’ assigned him saving him another trip!
He came in to address a service order assigned to him and after completing the work, the notification from his mobile app triggered a sequence of actions in a dispatch scheduling system. His mobile app also allowed him to order spare parts, look-up past repairs as well as diagnose error codes while eliminating paper-work by emailing a copy of his service report to his customers who had ‘sign-off’ on the touchscreen. Further, for complex jobs, mobile solutions can help ensure consistent service quality via context/location aware apps that bring in the appropriate checklists as the technician progresses through various stages of the job.
This ‘win-win’ approach helps the service provider by increasing efficiency of their staff, the field technician saves time, does a better job, reduces travel-time and feels motivated to do a better job while the customer gets the benefit of a uniform quality of service delivery, while getting an instant report of the job done.
Meanwhile, our friend – the service technician, got another service request while signing-off from the client he just serviced. The customer wanted him to look at few more devices they had not scheduled maintenance for. Again, mobile apps allow him to create a new service order and re-schedule his other appointments right from his mobile device offering flexibility he never had before.
This will increase his incentive and the company’s billing. In addition to new billing, it will help in the retention of the contract with the customer by providing a quick service.
The major challenges for field service today are that service is considered as a commodity and customer’s expectations are very high. The labor and other costs are increasing due to the current economy. Take an example of fuel cost and if a technician can avoid multiple round trips to a customer, it can result in substantial savings.
Field service mobile applications will help in capturing accurate data and reduce invoicing time. The field service technician will have access to critical information to reduce errors and speed up the end to end business process.