WBR Insights

July 13-July 13, 2017

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How Companies Manage Service Operations to Deliver On Customer and Employee Expectations

brought to you by WBR Insights


The legacy technicians may be leaving the workforce to make room for newer, less experienced field service recruits, but that doesn't mean expectations suddenly stop evolving. Customers and employees demand total visibility--it is no longer a "nice to have".

This is nothing new to the field service industry. Many companies, however, still struggle with developing outcome-based business models that will meet customer demand while still being practical for employees.

To see what companies are tracking as far as progress, WBR and DSI surveyed 100 service executives to measure success metrics and preparedness among field service companies.

(Download the full report for free here)

Improving customer service is the greatest pressure facing the industry for the next 12 months, with 67% of field service companies ranking customer service as a top two priority. Furthermore, customer satisfaction is a relevant metric to more companies than any other in this study.

Despite customer service being a clear KPI, technology adoption to leverage customer service is a struggle for half of the respondents. So, the demands for better service performance and greater visibility are realized by these companies... with no clear-cut solution into how to implement the technology.

Thankfully, some companies are making the necessary strides.

IoT: A Reality for Some, Dream for Others

"There is still lot of ambiguity around IoT and its actual effectiveness," one survey respondent explained. "We do not want to be rapid at it and risk failure; we want to be slow and steady so that we understand and implement with complete knowledge for success."

Despite this hesitancy to adopt, the survey data tells a different story. According to the above chart, half or more field service companies are already using IoT to either track high value assets (53%) or facilitate predictive maintenance (50%). These two capabilities directly contribute to customer satisfaction.

Among those companies still in their IoT planning phases, many cite two roadblocks--a limited exposure to IoT capabilities and a need to identify where new technologies fit within existing environments.

Companies see the value in connected devices and have already prioritized key areas of adoption. Clearly, many field service companies have a greater lead than others.

Advancements in Scheduling and Dispatching

It's good that the industry is making moves to catch up, as the use of outdated technology is hurting business.

For example, scheduling and dispatching resources continue to be a challenge for the majority of field service companies.

43% of companies who struggle with scheduling and dispatching claim they can't show customers where their driver is. Among companies that have customers with greater visibility expectations, 55% claim those customers expect to be able to see tech locations on a map.

As one executive puts it, "Technology is changing fast and so are the demands of our customers. We need to be able to adapt to these changes as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our competitors."

As a response, many are adopting next-generation technologies that deliver on the needs of their customers and employees.

Mobile Apps Successfully Facilitate Field Work

If having greater customer visibility isn't a buy-in for companies to leverage these technologies, the associated cost savings might convince them.

Almost half of the field services companies (49%) that use mobile applications to facilitate work in the field have reduced their cost of service as a result. Another 49% have simultaneously improved their first-time fix rate to boot.

37% of field service companies surveyed still aren't using mobile apps. They're falling short due to an inability to break from existing systems of training, management, and technology applications.

Building the Next-Gen Service Teams

Today, veteran employees whom companies have relied on for decades are retiring, and the responsibilities are now placed on younger employees' shoulders. This creates slight friction with the industry best practices honed over the years by older generations--in some cases, digital technologies are second nature to new employees and understandably lacking for the veteran workforce.

Fortunately, 69% of field service companies are confident they are meeting the next-generation's expectations in terms of technology in the workplace. By leveraging new field service technologies--such as mobile applications, remote access to experts, and scheduling and dispatching--these companies can both drive the success of their new employees and deliver on customer expectations.

The last word goes to a survey respondent:

"We are in a very competitive market where new technologies are causing disruption. Adapting to these technologies and meeting customer expectations is the challenge we need to overcome."

For more information on the critical factors for technology adoption, download the free report in the Field Service media center.