The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted every industry, and few businesses were prepared to handle the immediate impacts. Challenges extended well beyond corporate headquarters, with a recent survey suggesting that 88% of companies were particularly unprepared with regard to field services delivery. As companies evaluate and improve their resilience, field service teams should be a key consideration. If field services weren’t prepared to handle COVID-19, are they sufficiently equipped to handle future crises? If not, how can companies prepare them?
Businesses should address five important areas as soon as possible to prepare field services teams for future adversity.
1) Crisis Mitigation
As companies learned quickly with the COVID-19 pandemic, three areas are especially important when it comes to crisis mitigation. First is business continuity. Regardless of the crisis, survival is a human instinct, so business leaders will naturally think and plan in advance of any adverse situation. Companies should leverage the COVID-19 crisis in their favor, evaluating areas where they can bolster their preparedness and lay a foundation for business continuity and quick recovery.
Next is addressing the shortage of field technicians. According to this 2018 survey, companies already face challenges regarding expert availability. During crisis it becomes worse, so companies should consider solutions to solve it when situations aren’t as dire.
Finally, rapidly scaling technicians can help enterprises better manage fluctuations in field-service demand. A recent study by Field Service Insights found that 77% of field-services organizations use freelancers or contractors to handle shortages. In addition, two-thirds use a freelance management system (FMS) to source and manage talent. Users of FMS platforms cite greater agility, reduced costs, faster time to market, and improved efficiency as the top benefits.
2) Business Agility
The past few months have taught many businesses that they must improve their agility to incorporate and respond to rapid change more quickly. However, that instruction has also provided keys for a path forward. The field-service changes required to address fluid and urgent situations must be ready in a company’s system, and corporate leaders must able to activate them with just a few clicks. Implementing and optimizing policies for scheduling and dispatching can be critical to effectively responding to future crises.
3) Remote Workforce
Working remotely is part of our new normal, and “contactless” transactions will be here for the foreseeable future. How can companies deliver safe and no-touch field services? We have seen clients start to ask how to setup these kinds of services, and they’re looking beyond just enabling self-servicing for minor issues or equipment installation. Due to the shortage of field resources, most experts are supporting junior or untrained resources in their cross-skilling or development of new skills. A key to these training efforts is effective delivery via mobile devices, perhaps through mixed augmented or virtual reality, thus requiring no extra equipment.
4) Employee Health
As employees return to office and customer environments, their health and safety is among their top concerns. How can companies ensure the safety of their field technicians, particularly amid shortages that place even more importance on the availability of just a few people? Integration with tools such as Safeture can track daily Coronavirus exposure across 5,000 global sub-regions, conducting real-time checks with an employee’s historical, current, and future locations. The tool may not be able to guarantee a service location’s safety, but it can provide technicians with the best possible information to promote their safety before arrival.
5) Digital Relationships
Organizations must enable customers to engage across all possible digital channels (email, WhatsApp, website bots, Facebook, etc.), with all available information at their fingertips. This saves unnecessary visits by field technicians – if customers can self-serve using intelligent bots – which makes the customer’s life easier and the company’s resource utilization smarter.
To learn more about the importance of Field Services to the agile enterprise, please refer to this page.