The right resources, at the right time and in the right place. That’s what providing excellent field service is all about. As machines and customer questions become more complex, the work of field service managers and engineers also becomes more complicated. Professionals with suitable skills are expected to be on site quickly, with the right tools and materials to solve a problem smoothly.
A service notification that is efficiently resolved leads to satisfied customers and cost savings. But if a malfunction is not resolved or not quickly enough, a customer may seek solutions elsewhere. By digitizing your field service processes and making smart use of modern techniques, you can prevent that.
Field service software has been used for about two decades to coordinate the flow of service requests and work orders and ensure that professionals are deployed as effectively and efficiently as possible. Studies by Gartner and Forrester, among others, show that field service software improves the first-time right execution of the work and the quality of service. Because the professional has easy access to up-to-date work instructions and other relevant information on site via his smartphone or tablet, they can work faster and better. They can view and finish work orders along the way, so there is more time for the customer and his problem.
The software also makes it possible to plan – automatically or not – based on the availability of mechanics, materials and tools. Because with each service notification it’s determined which colleague is closest to the customer, response time, travel time and costs decrease. This is good for the customer and ensures that more malfunctions are solved per day and that operations become more sustainable.
More and more companies recognise that service technicians are the ambassadors of their brand. These professionals are literally on the customer’s doorstep, have the most personal contact and can thus help make – or break – a relationship.
That is why it’s important that they have the best possible tools. You want to equip your technicians with all the information they need to fix malfunctions while providing the best customer experience. What you want to avoid is that they have to manually enter work orders in their back office workspace. Or that they need to call the office to check instructions or prices.
By using a mobile app that connects to the cloud, this can be avoided. Mechanics thus have all relevant information and workflows at their disposal in real time and can work safely and in accordance with the legislation. Everything that is done in the app – think of acceptance of work or security checks – is automatically stored in the back office application for compliance checks, reports or analyses.
An increasing challenge in many industries is a lack of experienced staff. In order to solve complex service notifications, cooperation between technicians and experienced experts is therefore important. Previously, experts were flown around the world to assist with repairs or training on site at the factory. In times of Corona, of course, this isn’t possible. And the question is whether in 2021 this is even necessary and – with a view to sustainability – desirable.
The technology to collaborate remotely has been available for some time. Tech companies like Microsoft have been investing in so-called mixed reality (MR) technologies for over a decade, making it possible to add interactive digital elements to reality. Think of manuals, drawings or annotations in 3D. MR keeps the middle ground between virtual reality and augmented reality, and allows experts to visualize, for example, layouts of factories or large production lines and provide remote service.
An example of an MR solution is Dynamics 365 Guides, which allows mechanics to be trained via step-by-step holographic instructions. Because they are displayed through a HoloLens headset, the employee has their hands free to perform complex actions. The instructions can also be consulted offline; very handy when the mechanic works in a place without range.
Another interesting MR application is Remote Assist, which enables product specialists to provide support in resolving customer failures from a central location (control tower). As a result, they no longer have to be physically present in a factory, which saves travel time and costs.
A field service employee can dial in the expert via a HoloLens headset, smartphone or laptop and let them watch through their eyes. The expert can advise remotely and demonstrate via projections how their colleague in the field should perform maintenance or which part of a machine needs to be replaced to remedy a malfunction.
Because Remote Assist works within the trusted Teams environment and a HoloLens headset is not a requirement, the threshold to get started with it is low. The solution can be started directly from a Field Service Mobile posting, and call information is automatically added to the timeline of the linked work order. Afterwards, a photo or video can be taken as proof of repair. This also saves time, money and ensures satisfied customers and professionals.
Want to experience for yourself what Dynamics 365 Field Service and Remote Assist can offer your company? Get in touch!