Trends in Field Service Management
SAP Service Cloud is an end-to-end service management solution that provides “one-stop” for your customer service, field service and service management functions. There have been some interesting enhancements to this solution with the launch of SAP C/4HANA, and I want to discuss with you some of the trends in field service management that are driving those changes.
Customer Self Service
The first trend is no big surprise. Businesses everywhere are trying to figure out how to enable their customers to do more for themselves from a service aspect. One of the things that SAP is rolling out with the latest Service Cloud are automated self-service chat bots, which came through their acquisition of Recast AI.
One very cool feature of the new service cloud technology is the Service Request in Real Time. As an example, imagine a customer scanning a QR code on a machine, and that QR code then reaches out to your systems and pulls all of the necessary information to understand what that machine is, its serial number, its service history, etc. A chat bot then asks the customer if they would like to schedule a service call — and it makes suggestions for available times based on having a service technician in the area or based on the type of problem.
In the background, the system is capturing all of the data in a service ticket, so when the field service technician or service manager gets the ticket, it shows who made the request, it can include some free-form comments or items selected from a drop-down, or the customer can even take pictures and submit them. Because all the necessary information from a service perspective is in one location, the service manager does not need to look it up.
Field Service Dispatching and Workforce Scheduling
The ability to dispatch field service technicians requires an understanding of their skillsets, availability and location in order to make sure you’re getting the right person there quickly. Imagine being able to use artificial intelligence (AI) to figure out who has the most work on their plate, what certifications they have to service a particular unit, and so on. AI can help determine how best to service a customer.
Because you already have the data captured, you won’t need to figure out what machine is broken, what parts it needs, etc. And if you tie that data into a knowledge base, you can start to get more and more sophisticated – for example, knowing that this particular symptom could result in needing to replace these three parts. With that type of information, you could send your service technician to the customer site with those three parts to fix the item, then record the parts used and the labor involved. The result? A customer that is satisfied a lot more quickly – and you can invoice them sooner, too.
Mobile Field Service
What if you could dispatch field service technicians from a mobile device? That’s another capability that makes it easier to get the field technician to the customer site quickly. In addition, what if you could equip your field service technicians with easy-to-use mobile apps that enable them to perform installation, maintenance and repair tasks in the field?
Something new that SAP has talked about – and I think it’s still a little ways off – is crowd service. Essentially, it’s the ability to crowd-source service requests to freelancers. Imagine needing someone to do an HVAC service. If the manufacturer has five distributors that represent their product in a certain location, they can post the service request and ask one of those distributors to take the call, handle it, fulfill the right parts, and so on. So – rather than having to staff a lot of field service technicians internally – the manufacturer can outsource that function via crowd service.
Field Service Analytics
Predictive analytics will play a big role in field service, allowing you to gain insights from sensor data to improve product quality and reliability, use real-time machine data and sophisticated analysis to assess equipment health and avoid costly disruptions by predicting equipment malfunctions proactively.
This was just a summary of some of the trends driving change in field service management and SAP Service Cloud. If you’d like to take a deeper dive, we’d love the opportunity to show you more. Request a meeting.
Want to learn more? Download our e-book, Guide to Service in the Digital Era.