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Innovations in Field Service
Greg Burcham, Head of Field Service Effectiveness, MilliporeSigma
It’s 6 O’clock Monday morning, you reach over to silence your alarm and take a quick look at your smart watch, noticing two new pending appointments have been made on your calendar for the day. After taking care of your morning necessities, you check your emails on your smart phone and see that the dispatches that happened overnight were auto scheduled by your CRM application and the customers were contacted with the schedule via automated email associated with the dispatch. As you await the confirmation of the appointments you look at your expense report for the prior week and notice that all but one of the expenses has auto populated and linked to the receipt which you scanned into the app, so you’ll have to wait for the charges to be entered by your card issuer before submitting the expense report. Next you read the details of the dispatches and notice that the first appointment requires parts that your inventory management tool properly identified as being available in your trunk stock. As you review the dispatch, you realize that the time allotted for the first repair is off by about an hour due to the new site access requirements for the system needing service. From your phone, you select the installed product link in the message which takes you to the installed product device page and you update the site access restrictions so that future dispatches will take this into account and schedule properly. Once this correction is made, the scheduling tool modifies the appointment time for the first and second appointments and then sends a revised schedule notification to the customer. You hear the notification on your watch and look to confirm the appointment time changes.
Now you make your way out to your car and plug your phone into your smart car app. Directions to your first appointment show up on your car’s center console display. Still feeling a little tired, you add a stop at your local overpriced coffee shop so you can take your daily ingestion of caffeine before meeting your first customer of the day.
Arriving at the first customer’s place of business, you go to your parts bin in the back of the car and retrieve the two parts identified in the dispatch. After going through the new site safety training (thank God for the coffee), you make your way to your customer’s office and your customer proclaims, “right on time, thanks for showing up”. She asks you to follow her to the laboratory where the device you are to service is located. Once in the lab you connect your smart pad to the device’s Wi-Fi and download the history into the Work Order where the operational data is automatically entered into the diagnostic portion of the Work Order where you can review it for anomalies. As you pull the parts needed for the repair of this customer’s system, you scan the bar code on the packaging which populates the part on the product lines of the Work Order and decrements them from your inventory. Once the repairs are completed you pull up the Work Order on your pad and begin processing it for closure. You choose the predetermined resolution template to populate the Work order resolution and then dictate additional notes regarding the specific repair comments. Once complete you select to close the Work Order, where behind the scenes, a Service Report is generated for the customer and an email is sent to the customer with the Service Report conveniently attached.
Under the pseudonym of ‘The Gray Tsunami’, the Baby Boomer generation is getting ready for mass retirement over the next few years and many service organizations are going to be overwhelmed by this phenomenon as the field service Industry has a large percentage of its personnel from this generation
So far all of this may seem a little pie in the sky for many field service organizations, but all the tools necessary for this scenario exist today. Prioritizing tools and software for your field service team members is a key to driving the success of the organization. For years, processes at this level were relegated to the well-financed ‘big players’ in the field service world. These players, GE, for example, even went so far as to purchase, for a short time, field service software companies like ServiceMax. With the growth of field service software developers, there are now many choices for any size field service organization. There will definitely be investments required to implement, both financially and in the change management process.
The field service industry as a whole is undergoing some necessary adjustments. Under the pseudonym of ‘The Gray Tsunami’, the Baby Boomer generation is getting ready for mass retirement over the next few years and many service organizations are going to be overwhelmed by this phenomenon as the field service Industry has a large percentage of its personnel from this generation. Ensuring that your organization has built a sturdy service management tool to support the organization among this coming transition will be critical to ensuring survivability. Making the administrative processes run smoothly and as seamless as possible is the best way to ensure a successful transition. Along with the coming wave of retirees is also a new concern and that is the transitory field service engineer. The average tenure in service organizations is going down, requiring new innovative recruitment efforts, and creating an environment that is appealing to the Gen X, Y, and Millennials. The mobile tools that have been evolving over the last few years are ready now for this new generation of field service engineers who will be ready to embrace them.