Making Field Service about the Service

Recently, my father was waiting for the scheduled visit of his cable company’s tech, the time quoted was 3 to 5 PM. At 4:45pm, he called the cable company to ask if the tech was coming. The dispatcher told him that the tech was 11 minutes away. Sure enough, the tech arrived at 4:56 PM!

Think about the last time you had a TV technician out to your house. Did you notice that, despite that wide window you were quoted…

  • Dispatchers knew where the tech was and when to expect the truck?
  • Once he arrived, he was surprisingly efficient in installing the service and troubleshooting any problems?
  • He had all the equipment needed to get your service up and running?
  • All he needed from you was to turn the TV on to smile at the quality of the picture and sign that you were a completely satisfied customer (which you were)?

Are you still surprised when a service call goes as planned? Especially given that, historically, a single issue was rarely resolved in a single service call with ANY type of service technician, contractor, etc.

Well, you weren’t dreaming, the past is indeed history, and that experience wasn’t a fluke. After decades of deeming customer dissatisfaction with field technicians’ slow response times and limited resolution capabilities as satisfactory on some level – just part of the way this industry works – service companies are finally in a position to consistently surprise customers and exceed quality expectations. Technology has caught up to the times and field service professionals now have access to mobile tools that work as fast and as smart as the customer needs them to, regardless of their job site location, extreme environmental factors that typically hinder productivity, unique workflow requirements, etc.

Now, do these companies actually invest in the right mobile technologies? Do they give field service technicians a viable device and software platform from which they can deliver any and all necessary services to customers from the front lines, in a single service call? That’s another topic for another day. (Fortunately, Xplore’s customers do.)

Earlier in my career, our tech company CEO held a town-hall meeting with all of Engineering. During the Q&A period, one engineer stood up and asked: “Why do you refer to employees as liabilities and not as assets?” You could have heard a pin drop, and the CEO fumbled a bit before moving on to the next question. The reality is that employees are what makes a company function, the better the employees perform the better the company performs. It’s as simple as that.

Making Field Service about the Service

Field service has a very real opportunity to evolve from a “cost center” working on tickets (instead of “with customers”) to a “profit center” focused on completely satisfied customers as discussed recently in Field Technologies Online. Zebra Technologies’ Randy Briley is spot on when he said that the industry needs to redefine the role of “field services personnel from strictly repair technicians to de facto customer representatives.” In other words: Service companies must – and can – start making field service about the SERVICE.

How can we do that, you ask?

Information and access. Giving every single field technician access to the right information at the right time and in the right place.

And the only way I know that we can legitimately make that happen for most field service organizations is with fully rugged, fully featured tablet PCs that:

  • Emulate pen and paper data input (for familiarity and ease of use)
  • Emulate the desktop or laptop PC experience (keyboards for heavier computation workflows, larger screen size for easy viewing, Windows for familiar OS navigation, etc.)
  • Power up (hot swappable batteries), process fast (Intel) and deliver (4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0) data to workers’ uniquely individual job site – wherever that may be each day.

Sure, pen and paper can remain plan B on the rare occasion that a device goes down. But that’s why rugged devices are better for field service. They’re built NOT to go down: 20+ hr battery life; rugged ratings up to IP65 to ensure water and dust don’t disrupt data processing; drop tested from five feet; screens that can be read in even the brightest of sunshine; ports galore to allow for plug-and-play of any peripheral necessary to get the job done.

The point is: Rugged mobile technology has more than proven the positive impact of its supporting role in service organizations; field technicians can now shine in the spotlight as frontline customer service representatives for your organization.

Rugged tablet PCs unite the best of the PC and manual processes in a single field-friendly platform designed solely to:

  1. Manage (all) people and parts from anywhere
  2. End the (slow, error-prone and cumbersome) paper chase
  3. Access any and all business information from anywhere
  4. Deliver on the ROI you hoped for when deployed these mobile devices and saw the promise of today’s top-of-the-line mobile workforce technology

If you put your trust in rugged tablets, you’ll find that Randy’s predictions will prove true. You’ll become that service provider that actually delivers the “product” your customers expect: High quality service on the first service call.