A Brief History of Field Service Management

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Customer services date back to almost 4000 years ago when in the Babylonian economy, trust and dignity was a primal point in trading. The trade of goods and services was simpler but more intimate, If a service was delivered unsatisfactorily, or a product had deficiencies there was not only a breach in the verbal contract but an upset customer at your door. 

As we scale from simple trading to service-based contracts we saw that Field service management, due to limited transportation options, long trade routes and scarcity of handymen/skilled labour was extremely difficult. 

Yet trade agreements had to be followed to the extent that an enemy’s territory could not be used as a part of the trade route, even if it meant extending the journey by a significant amount of days. The assurance of the quality of goods or services being delivered was on word of mouth basis and if one of the parties failed to provide the goods promised and later on refused compensation, trade embargos would be imposed between tribes due to poor field services rendered.

Stepping back into 2020, things have changed, well evolved but the same basics of trust, quality and agreements have stayed true. 

In the digital era, the expectations of customers have definitely gone up where they demand not just transparency during the entire transaction process but a speedy complaint resolution has become an expectation and the everyday norm. Now all parties involved like the Original Equipment Manufacturer(OEM), retailer/distributor, field agents/vendor agency along with the customer all are interconnected through omni-channel communication systems. A slight delay or discrepancy in service provision or complaint resolution from an expected and agreed outcome means you most likely lose a business partner or client forever. From pre-purchase till post-purchase process, field service management includes coordination of all on the field operations. In broad terms from scheduling work to dispatching, tracking, status updating and final invoicing all sit under the umbrella of Field Service Management (fsm).    

What is C4C–relate to CX

SAP C4C is one of the most comprehensive 4th generation CRM which as a whole, is a complete customer experience suite that ensures customers across all touchpoints in their buying journey are provided with a seamless cutting edge CX. Customers are facilitated at every step giving businesses using SAP C4C a competitive advantage over their industry rivals. SAP Cloud for Customers (C4C) has five different modules which all cater to different business needs of an organisation. SAP Service Cloud is an end to end customer services system that combines customer services, contact centre operations and now after the recent acquisition of core systems provides Field Services and Field Team Management.

The history of field service management & digitalisation

SAP Field Services Management not only handles and resolves customer queries and complaints swiftly but it also aids the field team to proactively serve the customers by empowering technicians with live AI, IoT, ML, M2M assistance that helps them resolve issues in real time. No one likes to wait at the end of a phone on hold, no a customer can bypass this process and the field team is directly informed of services needed in areas under their operations. Customers can transparently see the availability of the technicians and the progress of their work. The system itself, with the help of IoT, can preempt any updates or maintenance service request and clients other than pre-scheduling appointments can even rely on intelligent scheduling that allows the system to preempt unforeseen system malfunctions and carry out maintenance to prevent mishaps, which would increase cost incurred and unnecessary time consumed in the future.

FSM in C4C – The problem they solve for businesses

Industries, where an abundance of customer emails/calls and complaints need to be handled on a daily basis needs automation. An automated system which schedules appointments and mobilises the field workforce spontaneously is necessary. However, simple automated scheduling is fast becoming redundant as the intelligent enterprise now needs intelligent scheduling. This means a system that utilises IOT, mobility solutions, M2M devices and an in-built AI system is needed to fulfil customer requirements in today’s dynamic business environment. The system is not only simply supposed to inform the workforce about the schedule but also gives technicians automatic alerts if a troubleshooting situation is foreseen even if not scheduled manually or automated periodically by a customer. Furthermore, systems such as the SAP Crowd Management part of the FSM modules have inbuilt AI and mobility tools that enables technicians to directly deal with troubleshooting problems with access to troubleshooting knowledge base on the field in their handheld devices. Thus, digital FSM systems are making the entire process more intuitive, shorter, accurate, easier and more transparent for all stakeholders involved.  

Previously Field Service Management had inefficiencies largely due to service silos as companies were not just using their inhouse service management teams but a lot of work is outsourced to third-party vendors. New digitised FSM modules have helped in breaking down these process silos were technicians, whether inhouse or third party contractors are directly informed of any preemptive or emergency maintenance needs. In high demand season with the help of AI tools, they can preempt seasonal spikes in demand and therefore manage their service teams to ensure everyone is catered to properly and customer satisfaction is guaranteed along each touchpoint.

SA Power and C4C

SA Power is one of the companies that successfully utilised SAP Service Cloud to transform its operations. Field crew workers were previously overburdened with customer complaints and the process of resolving these complaints seemed tedious. SA Power utilising SAP Service Cloud simplified their complaint handling system and made it more efficient so that their field crew had more time for conducting other important activities. It helped SA Power Networks concentrate on being one of the front runners in the utility sector when it comes to CX and bring about innovation in the industry.

Conclusion 

The standard of CX that individuals and businesses expect nowadays makes Field Service Management not just an added cost perceived as an aftersale necessity but an integral part of building long-term brand loyalty and can actually prove to be a profit-making centre as clients now only want to deal and purchase from companies that have the potential to carry out real-time problem solving and pre-empt their business needs. With warranty claims and damage coverage also being included in FSM modules not only do clients feel more trusting towards their service providers but would likely carry out more business with them in the future as their business relationship would ensure hassle-free service provision and problem resolution ensuring the highest level of customer services.

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