Service organizations must focus on technology and safety to maintain profitability through 2021 and beyond
This year has completely changed the way service will be performed.
Now in 2020, customers expect consistent communication and contactless service to be the standard. Technicians expect to have the tools they need — be it digital or physical — to get the job done right without having to stop at the office. Back office employees expect to have the ability to work remotely should they need to.
But what will 2021 bring to the field service industry? And how can you make sure your service business is ahead of the game?
Read on to discover the top three predictions for field service in 2021, and how your business should take advantage of these opportunities now.
Digital transformation continues to accelerate
In 2020, the focus for field service organizations has been driving digital transformation throughout the service workflow. If service businesses delayed implementing digital tools, they have since fast-tracked these plans to eliminate paperwork and boost efficiency.
If your service organization still relies on manual processes, like paper inspection forms or a whiteboard for scheduling, then your top priority for 2021 is to go digital. Field service management software replaces paper-dependent processes and manual data entry with automation, so your team can focus on customers instead of paperwork.
And it’s not only your customers that benefit, but also your bottom line. In fact, a report from McKinsey states that you could reduce your field service personnel costs by up to 30% by optimizing your workforce through automation.
If your service organization already uses field service management software, then you should look to advanced technologies to drive efficiency and profitability even further.
Take IoT-connected equipment, for example. If your service business maintains IoT equipment, you have a big opportunity to provide proactive service for your customers. Consider an optimized scheduling tool to automatically schedule appointments based on machine health data, without any human intervention.
Flexible, remote workforce
Just a few months into 2020, service organizations realized they needed to transition to remote work as quickly as possible. Service organizations that transitioned to a remote workforce this year may continue the policy through 2021. Now that companies have realized remote workers are highly productive and less expensive, they will be more likely to allow employees to work remotely if they want to.
However, there are a couple technologies you must have in place before switching to a fully remote workforce, namely digital scheduling for your dispatch team and a mobile field service app for your technicians.
With a digital schedule board, your dispatch team has a real-time window into the field to see technicians’ location, tasks, and truck inventory. And with a mobile field service app, your technicians have access to all the information they need to complete the task, from customer and equipment history to warranty coverage. Best of all, your techs don’t need a WiFi connection to use the app, so they can work offline from anywhere.
Speaking of your technicians, the labor shortage for field technicians will continue into 2021. But there may be a new way to scale your workforce with the sharing economy. This means technicians may become freelancers, and companies can hire these technicians as needed, similar to ride-sharing services like Uber.
And this trend might have a bigger impact to your technicians than you might think. According to McKinsey, a whopping 50% of field service workers will be freelance by 2025. Whether you keep full-time technicians on staff or only use them as needed, it’s clear that flexibility will be key to maintain an efficient workforce.
Increased focus on safety
In 2020, there’s never been a greater focus on safety. Customers and technicians alike need to know services will be provided safely without risk of infection.
Your focus for 2021 must be to make sure your safety protocols appease your customers and your team. If your customers don’t feel your services are provided safely, then they may look to another service company with better safety procedures. And if your technicians don’t feel safe coming to work, it’s likely they’ll switch to another job with greater safety measures in place.
Technology can be a big help to limiting risks and boosting safety. This is where a robust mobile app for your technicians comes into play. With a mobile field service app, your technicians don’t need to come into the office to check their schedule, drop off paperwork, or turn in their timecards. It’s all done through the app, from wherever they’re working.
Though this year has put field service organizations through the ringer, there’s plenty of opportunity to prepare for a successful future.
Look to technology now to achieve even greater profitability and productivity. And you’ll reap the benefits in 2021 and beyond.