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7 Reasons How Your Technical Field Service Can Benefit of Mobile Service Apps

The smartphone is already well established in the field service industry and, as a mobile all-rounder, supports service technicians in their daily work – the seven most important advantages of mobile field service apps.

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Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone just over a decade ago. Apple thus laid the foundation for the triumphant advance of the smartphone, which today is the prerequisite for numerous digital business processes. Professional apps for field service simplify logistics and communication as well as increase efficiency and flexibility.

Up until then it was anything but easy to establish an efficient field service organisation. Do you have many years of experience as a service technician or head of a field service organisation? If so, you can certainly tell us a thing or two about the complex and often sluggish processes that until now have been all too common.

Today, these challenges can be solved much more effectively with the help of a mobile field service app. B2B apps are enjoying increasing popularity, which is only to be expected given the spread of the smartphone. Next year, the number of smartphone users is expected to exceed the five billion mark.

The smartphone is already well established in the field service industry and, as a mobile all-rounder, supports service technicians in their daily work. We’ve done some research into the seven most important advantages of mobile field service apps. In this blog post, we will show you how your company can reap the benefits of such apps for field service employees.

1. Optimally Prepared for Every Assignment

The networking of machines via the Internet of Things (IoT) creates new data points through which the technical field service gains access to valuable information. In areas such as maintenance or building management, sensors send data directly to the ERP system via a cloud interface.

If measured values deviate from predefined standards, the system can automatically trigger an order for the field service. At the same time, relevant data such as fault messages, information on the machine and building status are directly transferred to the order and sent to the mobile service app.

This ensures that your field service staff are optimally prepared for every assignment and know what problem to solve before they arrive at the scene. The result: the right tools and spare parts in your kit, faster problem solving and no nasty surprises.

The networking of machines via the IoT creates new data points through which the technical field service gains access to valuable information.

2. Automation Increases Efficiency

Like any B2B app, a field service app should also improve efficiency by standardising and automating workflows. We’ll come back to the topic of digitalisation later on – here we’re particularly talking about intelligent order management.

From scheduling a service order and dispatching the technician to route planning and invoicing in the ERP system, all process steps can be linked seamlessly and in a largely automated manner. An important component of the technical solution is the mobile field service app, which makes important order data available to your service technicians.

On the other hand, your field service staff can use the mobile solution to transfer order-related information such as diagnostic data, working hours and spare parts directly to the central ERP system via a cloud interface. Every piece of information triggers the next step in the workflow. Nothing gets lost, no information is overlooked and you save on time-consuming coordination by telephone or email.

3. Clean Planning and Maximum Agility

Are your service capacities sufficient? Does your organisation have the necessary competencies? Do all processes and tools work? Use the information available to you to ensure reliable medium-term planning. A welcome side effect of standardised, integrated and automated workflows is that you are always able to maintain an overview.

The totality of data from the mobile service app, cloud platform and ERP system is a valuable source of information. Use it to your advantage and prepare yourself for the challenges in field service through clean planning.

At the same time, access to all information in real time enables you to react quickly, even to short-term changes. A service technician is absent due to illness? A scheduled service order is postponed due to a lack of spare parts? No problem! Using the app for field representatives, you can optimally control your service organisation even in such cases and remain agile at all times.

4. Avoid Media Disruptions Thanks to Digitalisation

You can finally say goodbye to paperwork! Mobile B2B apps are the central digital interface for your service technicians. They provide access to all the information your technical field service staff need to execute a service order – from the initial order preparation to the documentation of the order execution.

After the job has been successfully completed, your customers can even document an order confirmation using a digital signature via the mobile service app. This allows you to completely digitalise the majority of previously paper-based workflows. You can bid farewell to time-consuming and error-prone work reports.

5. Fast Order-To-Cash Process

A field service management app also creates measurable benefits from a financial perspective. The integrated and accelerated order processing through the interaction between the service app, cloud interface and ERP system helps you to shorten the order-to-cash process.

Mobile field service apps accelerate the billing process because all data is transferred directly and digitally to the ERP system

This in turn has a positive effect on your cash flow. The sooner you send an invoice to your customers for an order, the sooner you can expect to receive payment. The accelerated process is made possible by automated working time tracking in the app, real-time reporting of materials, spare parts as well as arrival and departure times.

The mobile field service app transfers all information directly back into the ERP system via cloud synchronisation and can then be used in the invoicing process.

6. All Customer and System Data at a Glance

Knowledge is power! Only well-informed field staff can complete their tasks efficiently and work competently on behalf of your customers. Service technicians have online access to the complete customer and system history via the field service app. This means you have all the information you need to carry out the order at your fingertips.

At the same time, the service app helps your organisation to gather important feedback from each deployment. During and after their deployment, service technicians use the app to indicate which tasks have been performed and whether any new information has arisen that may also be relevant to other service employees.

This enables you to gradually build a valuable knowledge base for all service technicians, enabling you to continuously identify and implement process improvements. The field service app is your direct line to what’s happening on site!

7. Seamless Customer Experience

In the end, your customer benefits from an improved customer experience. The closed loop of the mobile service app, cloud platform and ERP system keep cumbersome coordination phases and queries to a minimum. With mobile access to information, your service technicians can answer your customers’ questions directly on site.

Digital communication with your customers is also simplified. Through the transparent order management of your field service organisation, you can provide reliable information on planned deadlines. This ensures a smooth overall process and makes a significant contribution to ensuring a long-term customer relationship.

How Augmented Reality Optimizes Field Service Management

Augmented Reality helps to optimize your technical field service and reduce operating costs. In this blog post we show you the opportunities that the integration of augmented reality opens up for field service organizations.

The global augmented reality market is expected to grow by an average of 75 percent each year until 2024. With augmented reality (AR), virtual content merges with our reality. This will make our day-to-day lives significantly easier in the coming years, whether at work or in our private lives.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and SAP CEO Bill McDermott recently gave an impressive presentation of the potential that augmented reality has in store for business applications at SAPPHIRE NOW and gave insights into completely new application areas of AR technology. AR can be used to simplify and digitalize applications and processes as well as make them more accessible to field service employees.

An example of how AR optimizes field service processes can be seen by considering the maintenance of machines. When a technical problem arises, a highly qualified field service technician will normally identify the cause and solve the issue. They know the technical specifications of the machine and are well-versed on how to diagnose and rectify faults. A layman would spend hours, perhaps even days, trying to understand the individual components of the machine.

However, highly qualified field service employees and their working hours are both expensive and difficult to scale. Augmented reality enables the technician or even a less qualified user to analyze the machine faster in a virtual environment. All components are displayed via AR on a smartphone or tablet computer. The fault can be solved quickly and easily – maybe even without the need to consult a specialist in the future.

Augmented reality is a rapidly growing and increasingly sophisticated technology that should not be ignored by any field service organization.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty and look at some exciting AR application scenarios in field service, here is a short summary:

Augmented reality (AR) helps service technicians to quickly carry out repairs on site, consult with colleagues, check a service case in advance as well as better prepare and accelerate field service. Virtual AR tools deliver significant cost savings, minimize travel time, reduce operating time for staff, increase expert reach and simplify training for new technicians.

In order to further optimize your technical field service and reduce operating costs, this blog post will show you the opportunities that the integration of augmented reality opens up for field service organizations.

AR Enables Remote Support in Field Service

Imagine you are a new employee dealing with a complex technical task and you could call an experienced expert to help you. This colleague would see exactly what you see and could guide you step by step through the task using 3D graphical applications and illustrations. This way, you could complete the task without ever touching a single piece of paper and thereby bid farewell to complicated instruction manuals or other technical guidelines!

Remote support is made possible through augmented reality. Service technicians use a smartphone and point the camera at the machine so that an experienced colleague can help with diagnosis and troubleshooting. In addition, augmented reality apps now run on any standard tablet or smartphone. Smart AR headsets that enable hands-free operation are even more promising. For example, Google recently introduced the second version of its AR glasses, Google Glass, which is based on Android Oreo and has a much better camera that the previous model.

AR Improves Fault Diagnosis in Field Service

The goal of an effective and customer-friendly field service is to solve a problem in the shortest possible time. Nothing is worse for the customer than to organize for a service technician to come to their home only to find out the technician has to come back again because they don’t have the required tools at hand or because additional expertise is required.

With augmented reality, the problem can be displayed in real time and visually. The field service employee can prepare for the situation and, in the ideal case, does not even have to drive to the customer’s home. The focus here is also on minimizing costs and the corresponding time that the field service employee spends with the customer.

AR Facilitates the Training of Service Technicians

It is not uncommon for field service employees to have to maintain more than a hundred different variants of a particular component during their assignments. It is therefore almost impossible to train all employees to be able to deal with 100% of problems that could potentially occur. Both the technology and the errors and problems associated with it change far too quickly making it too difficult to keep up!

Remote support via augmented reality allows another expert to serve as a cost-effective safety net so that together you can find the solution to the respective problem in more complex situations. For example, the provider Scope AR has developed a solution based on the “See what I see” (SIWS) principle, where second-level support experts connect to the on-site technician’s glasses and handle the service process together.

The number one priority is the same here: solve the problem first time round and avoid a repeat visit, which will help reduce field service costs and improve the customer experience.

Crucial Factors for AR Implementation in Field Service

AR headsets or mobile devices?

Before selecting a device, analyze the situation in which your field service staff find themselves at the customer’s home when trying to solve the problem. Consider the following questions:

  • Do both hands have to be free when working?
  • Are they standing on a ladder or scaffolding?
  • Do they work indoor or outdoor – or even underground?
  • Which weather conditions prevail and must be considered in the decision?

For more complex problems, it may be necessary to have both hands available. This decision will significantly affect the cost as smartphones and tablets are cheaper than AR headsets.

Is there a business case for AR?

The costs and the added value generated by the introduction of augmented reality technologies vary significantly. Depending on the size of your field service team and the type of service you provide, you should calculate how often your technicians will use the technology and how much time and money you can save by using it.

Which tools do you already use?

Check out the possibility of upgrading existing smartphones or tablets instead of buying all the tools again. The cost implications are enormous and should be carefully calculated. Smart glasses are often not necessary in the first step. They are expensive and their battery life is often worse than that of smartphones or tablets.

Ideally, you should start by testing the new technology with 20% of your field service staff. If it is successful, you can then make the technology available to everyone.

What competitive advantages do you achieve through collaboration?

By integrating augmented reality into your field service, your company is able to combine the knowledge of all employees. This new collaboration, which the new technology offers your employees, gives you a decisive advantage. You can now do more field service work with fewer staff members. Don’t forget to take this factor into consideration as well.

Augmented reality is a rapidly growing and increasingly sophisticated technology that should not be ignored by any field service organization. Analyze your situation and use cases accurately by answering the questions above. This is the only way to turn your investment into successful added value for both your field service management and your entire company.

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