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Surprising Takeaways from Our Recent Field Service Research

Posted by Sumair Dutta on Jan 16, 2015 8:40:17 AM

The Service Council, with the aid of the SmartVan community, surveyed over 180 service and manufacturing organizations on the state of their field service businesses. The results are extensive and we are compiling the findings over the coming weeks. Here are some surprising takeaways:

  • Fifty-five percent (55%) of respondents indicated that they saw an increase in field activity (as measured by total service visits). While this in itself isn’t surprising, what is surprising is that for those who saw an increase, nearly 40% reported that the increase in service visits was due to the fact that customers are holding on to equipment longer. We’ve heard that with an improving global economy, organizations are beginning to invest in new equipment and new tools. This shows that we continue to see some concern.
  • Two-thirds of organizations state that they are able to meet increasing field service demand with current workforce levels. This is surprising as we consistently see organizations scrambling to acquire field service talent. One thing to note is that most of the worry is focused on talent loss and hiring 3-5 years from now. So, while most organizations are currently comfortable with workforce levels, this is likely to change in the near future. (Note: 47% report having unfilled positions for field service agents as they closed they year)
  • Sixty-eight percent (68%) of respondents reported that they drew more revenue from their field service businesses in 2014, when compared to 2013. What’s surprising is that nearly two-thirds of those (and 43% of the overall population) saw a greater than 10% increase in field service-generated revenue over 2013. This is substantial.
  • At the field execution layer, respondents highlighted that parts and inventory management presented the greatest challenge. This is a pleasant surprise. Most organizations get so caught up in optimizing labor that they forget about the impact of parts on field service delivery. We are also seeing an increased amount of attention being paid to the management of returned parts owing to the incredible amount of untracked inventory sitting in field service vehicles.
  • When tallying the top reasons for customer complaints with field service, we found that 31% of organizations indicated that their customers balk at the cost of service. We haven’t seen this in previous surveys and it reflects the high cost that customers pay for service that isn’t under contract.
  • To improve a day in the life of front line agents, 52% of respondents prioritized the reduction of administrative paperwork with the aid of mobile applications. And here we thought that everyone was mobile.
  • Forty-seven percent (47%) of respondents revealed that their customers have no self-service options when it comes to interacting with the field service organization. Therefore customers can’t view technician status, schedule appointments, reschedule visits, review work done, and more. As organizations look to improve the field service experience offered to customers, there has to be a greater investment in self-service applications and tools available to customers.
  • Fifty-size percent (56%) of organizations are considering real-time video feeds to improve field service efficiency. Nearly a third of that group is currently building the business case for adoption in the short-term. We’ve never seen such a high interest in video for field service delivery and this indicates a greater comfort with the quality and reliability of video available commercially.

These are some of the more surprising takeaways for me. Stay tuned for a summary of the overall findings.

Topics: mobile, Field Service, Trends, video, Perspective, talent

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