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Adding a sensor to every inch of the machine, collecting data every nano-second, processing it with the latest AI technology is currently preached as the solution to every problem that happens in the service industry today. Having automated task-scheduling for technicians armed with the latest mobile devices and AR headsets could fix everything in just the right time, right? You could have all the latest technology implemented for you and still fail! But why?
One layman’s explanation to failed service transformation is ‘’What can go wrong, will go wrong’’ according to Murphy’s Law. Or, realistically you have missed the three important aspects – People, Processes and Strategy.
‘Digitalisation is not reducing human work, humans can do what machine cannot and vice-versa’- this statement from a field service leader very well summaries why the focus should be on the people rather than the technology. It’s the field service workforce that has to accept the new technology, learn to utilise it and support less tech-savvy colleagues. Proper utilisation of support tools for scheduling, planning and remote guidance are evolving quickly. Allowing the field service technicians to lead the change and adopt these mobile tools will reduce the time field service workforce spend in non-productivity tasks and allow them to focus on customer experiences.
Empowering the field service workforce to upsell and provide utmost customer experience is the key to retaining long-term customers and increasing profitability in the highly competitive service sector today.
Technology changes require people to change but also processes to change along with the people. Processes are what differentiates two companies’ services who might be using the same or similar technology. One of the biggest challenges for digitalisation is to effectively manage the change of well-established and optimised processes.
Companies moving from call centres, on-field technicians to extensive product manuals to support through chatbots, remote technicians and DIY need to map the customer journey to make sure the change of processes only reflects positively for the customer. For some companies, it also means adapting the process of creating new products and services. Having loyal customers on-board in the development process as test-users, including feedback rapidly and making development in sprints is the way ahead than the standard water-fall methods of new product and service development.
One important factor that encompasses people and processes is the strategy. The strategy needs to be set by the top management in discussion with the field service technicians who are the final implementers. Currently technology needs to be evaluated to see if its the technology or the process that needs to be changed.
The maturity of the workforce needs to be evaluated to make sure they can adapt to the changes in everyday work tools. Along with the technology strategy, the change management process has to be included in the strategic plan. Technology evolves continuously and to be able to predict the future of technology and how the added complementors to new technologies could impact the future business models is also necessary with the rapid pace of technology development. Digitalization and technology shapes both service expectations and servicing capabilities but remembering that field service technicians are human and require time to adapt to the technology is the key to successful digital transformation.
Keeping all the three factors in mind, the technology implementations have to start from small, to be sure to arrive at the first result and then move forward in an iterative process. One important element that field service leaders have to understand is to not get confused with technology trends but focus on business problems. Gradual adaptation and inclusion are the key to winning in terms of service differentiation and competitiveness in the field service industry today. In summary, every service leader is facing the same service challenges irrespective of the industry.
The field service leaders have to be able to benchmark against industry leaders and focus on people, process and strategy to be on a successful transformation journey.