Welcome to the New Year, and with it, a whole new list of things to learn and watch out for.
Last year, the field service industry saw a marked increase in service as a sales tool, using the quality and speed of work to differentiate businesses from each other. In five years, field service organizations are going to look back on 2014 as a major turning point for the industry – a time when many long-term trends bubbled to the surface.
This year is going to see a continuation of those field service trends, with companies scrambling to be the first to understand new technology in a profitable way. To sum up 2015, I predict we’re looking forward to the year of customer satisfaction.
Here are the big field service trends that are going to drive that focus.
Mobile continues to take over
Whether companies are letting techs bring their own phones to the job or are issuing iPads to the whole force, mobile applications are going to continue shaping the market. More and more of the tasks that used to require time on the phone, multiple devices, or hours of paperwork are being managed through mobile apps.
In 2015, we’re going to hit the point where customers are expecting mobile solutions at a bare minimum. Imagine UPS showing up to the door and having you sign a piece of actual paper. In a few years, the idea of a tech needing to call back to the office for support is going to seem just as ludicrous.
The internet of things becomes widespread
Nest is making a small fortune off its thermostat that senses when you’re gone, adjusting the temperature to account for your absence. Even that sort of interaction is quickly going to look antiquated and, in 2015, the internet of things (IoT) is going to change the way field service happens.
The medical devices community has already embraced the IoT, helping to cut costs, increase uptime, and keep people safer. Expectations about the insight that techs have into the systems they repair and maintain are only going to increase, with service organizations receiving more and more information in real-time.
Preventative maintenance replaces reactive repair
With the predictive power of connected devices, the field service industry is going to start undertaking more and more preventative work. Instead of waiting for a call from a business owner telling you that a key piece of equipment has gone down, you’ll be calling them to setup an appointment before the devices fail.
More uptime means less time in crisis mode for techs and for the companies they serve. That means relationships with those businesses will be built on a stronger foundation, where service providers are almost a part of the companies they work with, acting to keep businesses up and running all the time.
The value of customer service increases
As we’ll all have a better look into the inner workings of the systems we’re keeping alive, companies will have to differentiate themselves on the quality of their customer service. Already, higher customer satisfaction is linked to higher revenue, but that link is going to come home to roost in 2015.
No longer will companies be able to rest on the laurels of uptime, with more service organizations sending out preventative calls, everyone is going to have a better chance to keep things up and running. Now, we’re going to be boasting about how well we interact with clients, how aggressive our SLAs are, and how rarely clients have to actually place a call.
More information shared with clients
These insights and drive for increased customer satisfaction are going to lead businesses to share more information. The IoT gives service techs more data to share and, when done correctly, more ways to make clients feel cared for. By producing reports and providing analysis to customers, field service firms can start to add actual value to their customers’ businesses.
The shape of that information is going to start to reveal itself in 2015. It may be through a series of reports, a real-time dashboard showing usage, or a database of statistics that companies can use to find their own trends.
2015 field service trends in summary
Some companies are already making these moves, and the shift from 2014 to 2015 isn’t going to slow them down. Other companies are forging ahead with their own plans, taking leaps that most of us won’t consider until 2016 and beyond. The range of options is wide open, but it’s definitely going to be a fun year to follow, and a momentous year for field service.
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