The COVID-19 pandemic has caused companies that utilize Field Service resources to pivot quickly to a contactless service model wherever possible to help ensure the safety of Field Service employees and the customers they serve. With safety, security, and transparency top of mind, Field Service companies are striving to do their part to limit the spread of the virus in an industry that cannot entirely avoid all contact while performing their services.
Field Service companies are obligated to change the way they deliver goods and services such as conducting installations, routine maintenance, and testing, performing medical care, and delivering and receiving products. Safety for the Field Service employee as well as the customer has always been important, now it’s absolutely critical. Today’s providers leverage technology to facilitate contactless service.
Some providers were already well on their way to augmenting these practices through innovative mobile apps, upgrading mobile devices with enhanced features and security, and digital transformation projects that eliminate paper, wet signatures, printed documentation, and checklists. Those who have not already done so will have to implement new strategies in a very short time timeframe with no room for error. Many Field Service Organizations have created consumer portals and mobile apps so customers are more informed and engaged through transparency and constant communication.
This post describes how Field Service companies can leverage technology to adapt to COVID, specifically by:
Minimizing Customer Contact while Maximizing the Customer Experience
Deloitte research has revealed that delivering a positive customer experience can reduce your cost to serve customers by up to 33%; moreover, customers who enjoy positive experiences are likely to spend 140% more than customers who report negative experiences, and are likely to remain customers for five years or longer than those with perceived negative experiences.
Field Service companies must juggle customer experience, expectations of uninterrupted service, the need for routine maintenance and measurement, and on-time product delivery with maintaining the highest levels of employee safety in this contactless era. Some examples of how these companies are surviving, and even thriving, in the COVID era are as follows:
- Providing technicians (and in some cases even customers) with digital documentation, checklists, and maintenance instructions, eliminating the need for printed manuals that would need to be sanitized after each stop.
- Providing a user friendly, intuitive digital experience for customers to share digital assets (e.g., pictures, videos, and logs) to triage a service incident while avoiding direct customer contact.
- Providing an UBER-like experience to inform customers about who will be arriving, provide a picture of the Field Service technician along with contact details, the technician’s live location, and an accurate time of arrival (rather than a four-hour window).
- Informing customers about the procedures the Field Service organization has implemented for the customer’s safety by supplying documentation describing COVID-testing frequency, attesting to the daily checking of COVID symptoms, the use of PPE equipment, and the pre- and post-sanitation measures implemented for safety.
- Electronic document creation and contactless digital signatures for contracts, signoffs, checklists, invoices, and work orders.
- In Healthcare, the use of barcodes and QR-codes for check-ins and workflow in the case of COVID-19 testing facilities and blood donation centers.
- Amazon and other retailers are avoiding customer delivery signatures by taking a photo of the delivered product, along with a time and date stamp to provide contactless proof of delivery.
- Through the use of QR-codes and mobile payments, restaurants have created a contactless transactional model that is safe, secure, and reduces both the customer wait-time and possible viral spreading by not physically sharing menus and credit cards.
An example of how an HVAC Field Service incident would benefit from technology and customer engagement is as follows: a customer: “Jim” of “Acme,” an HVAC company, is notified via the Acme app on his mobile phone that Acme needs to schedule the annual inspection of his furnace.
Jim made the decision when he purchased the furnace to upgrade to an IOT-connected furnace with advanced sensors for heat, vibration, and carbon monoxide detection, and subscribed to the option for remote maintenance and alerts. Since Jim works from home, he chooses to have the inspection the following Friday afternoon, as his meetings will end early that day.
The Acme app reminds Jim on Thursday afternoon of the upcoming appointment and allows him to confirm the appointment time is still good. Jim receives a notification from the app which contains the following items:
- Acme’s commitment to customer-safety statement.
- What to expect and how to prepare for a contactless service call.
- The technician’s name: “Bill,” with his photo, contact details, and the Acme safety measures that have been taken prior to sending out the service tech.
- A report of diagnostic and usage information from the furnace to be inspected.
Acme has a 2-hour service window but the new app will alert Jim when the service tech is within 30 minutes of arrival, again at 10 minutes and 5 minutes, along with a map display of his exact location.
Upon arrival at the front door, Bill, the technician notifies Jim that he is at the front door and needs to enter the home. Jim says, “I see you on my video doorbell and the door is open.” Bill replies, “Ok, I’m coming in, I have the replacement filter and any parts specific to your installation and repair in the truck should I need them. Our systems notify me of this prior to the trip and we are trying to minimize the time I spend inside your home.”
Bill wears a compliant mask, gloves, and faceguard (requirements based on the location and specified by Jim’s local government). While maintaining a safe social distance, he makes his way to the furnace. While performing the inspection and reviewing the trending reports from the connected device, Bill notices that while the blower motor hasn’t failed, its vibration has been trending upwards. Equipped with predictive maintenance information, Bill’s service tablet reports that within 30-60 days the blower motor will fail.
Through the Acme app, Bill opens a chat to Jim and lets him know that he will be replacing the blower motor with a new one (that was already loaded in his truck). Since the parts are not under warranty, Via the Acme app, Bill submits a link with a request for electronic approval of the work order and service charges for the replacement items that Jim can review and accept.
Bill has many years of experience but reviews the electronic checklist as well as the installation video from his service tablet. To avoid any contact, instead of credit card capture, the charges are automatically sent to accounting and invoiced electronically. When finished, Bill completes the final items on the checklist and disinfects any areas that were touched during the installation before exiting the home.
As Bill drives away, Jim receives an email summarizing the service call and is asked to take a short survey on how satisfied he is with Acme and with Bill’s specific performance.
Thanks for reading our Field Services Modernization blog post. If your organization needs any help determining the best way to leverage technology to adapt to the unique demands of COVID-19, please check out our Enterprise Mobile Field Services Modernization Strategy Kickstart or feel free to reach out to us with any questions.