By Sarika Andhee. Marketing Leader: Services Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric

Technology is shaping the way services operate and interact with customers. According to a report by the Technology and services Industry Association (TSIA) The State of Services, “the ability to digitally capture any product performance attribute with sensors and send the data to low-cost storage in the cloud where it can be analysed is truly disrupting the business and operating models of multiple industries.”

With the above in mind, where does it leave field services teams? For one, services need to match the expectations of (increasingly sophisticated) customers. The good news is digital tools and resources enable services teams to optimise their daily operations, which result in faster response times and safer sites; all contributing to an improved customer experience.

To contextualise the above, it is important that we unpack what digital tools and resources are available to services team, and how it optimises or impact service delivery.

1. Augmented reality

Customers can use AR to obtain the necessary support from a services representative. The technology will allow a technician to inspect the faulty equipment and provide the next steps on whether it can be resolved remotely, or a site visit is necessary.

2. Customer portals

Customer portals act as a central online hub where customers can schedule service, view past bills and reports, see pricing, download product datasheets, and connect with support.

It’s also where customers get an overview of all their assets and service contracts.

3. Standardised reporting

By streamlining reporting, customers receive one report, regardless of service performed. This cuts down on paperwork and gives a consistent, clear view of all the work performed.

Furthermore, standardised reporting coupled with a customer portal give customers on-demand access to their data, saving them time and reducing the complexity of managing the information.

Standardised reporting also reduces Services’ teams administrative time – it’s a win-win for both parties.

4. Variation orders

More than often, a services representative will uncover additional work that wasn’t in the original scope. Here, a services representative will usually have to schedule a follow-up visit, a step that wastes both time and money. Digital variation order tools allow services representatives to generate a quote and provide the service immediately, if possible.

5. Mobile apps

A mobile device is an easily accessible tool that provides services representatives with information on new job assignments, install base data, updated schedules, and upload project-specific information such as time and expenses, thus improving their overall efficiency in meeting customer needs.

6. Third-party transparency

Services representatives may work with external partners to complete some tasks. Historically, these third parties did not have access to the central customer platform. New tools provide external vendors access to these systems, enabling them to schedule work orders, put through spare part orders and capture project data. Again, customers benefit from increased efficiency and a more streamlined experience.

Digital tools and resources are fast defining the services teams of the future, allowing them to readily meet the demands of a customer-centric industry where quick turnaround and expert service delivery are key.

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