The unforeseen emergence of the COVID-19 outbreak has brought a seismic shift in our lives. Parallel to the health sector, various businesses across industries have been facing the challenges posed by these extreme circumstances. Grave concerns lie in the fact that businesses have been duly affected by the changes in the way people work and interact with each other.

Software that tracks the activities and keeps various field services in place, like inventory management, vehicle tracking, customer support, etc. enables businesses to reduce operational costs and gain control over their resource management. Amidst the envelope of uncertainty, the field service management industry is trying to cope up with the state of apprehension. While some businesses are feeling the heat, others are gradually striving with the help of government measures and other support services.

The Impact

Reports had forecasted that the overall field service management market is expected to grow by $4.98 billion between 2018 and 2026. Owing to the proliferation of smartphone devices and the Internet of Things technology, technological solutions have been gaining traction over a period of time. FSM solutions are expected to give faster deliveries and better customer support in addition to increased efficiency.

But the world has turned upside down now. Field service operations are considered within the bracket of ‘essential services’. They have been granted the liberty of staying operational despite a nationwide lockdown situation. Yet, many customers simply do not want a technician to enter their house irrespective of the service classification. At the same time, they are desperate to get their appliances repaired and expect good service. The public health effects in North America are much adverse than in other parts of the country. Unfortunately, North America was expected to hold the highest market share in the field service management industry.

With the inclined focus on digital tools, businesses are now looking for workforce management software to manage the entire field service operations going on, in real time. The necessity of reliable field service management software, that can generate useful insights, has become imperative.

There is a severe need for remote assistance capabilities to help the technicians travel through restricted areas, maintain systems, and ensure a good customer experience. Though virtual meeting platforms are being employed to bridge between human expertise and the complex hardware reality, they fail to provide the depth and interactivity that is required.

One of the leading segments in the field service management market is on-premises deployment. But the protocols regarding the virus prevalence are dynamic. Hence, it is continuously impacting how businesses interact with the customers and fulfill their needs. Moreover, the safety of the teams and the workforce is equally significant.

ServicePower has experienced a 12% decline in its daily call volume. As the fear surrounding the virus contagion is increasing, companies are planning to make the service calls more strenuous. Limitations on the service offerings can also be expected. In fact, companies are even considering temporarily suspending services for areas that have been declared as prone zones of the outbreak.

The Redressal

The most common answer to most corporate workers ambiguities was brought by the concept of work from home. But that is not the case with the field service management industry. Field service doesn’t occur ‘from home’! From new installations to emergency breakdowns, service is essential. If you dwell in the field service management industry, here’s something you can ensure to keep away from the COVID-19 spread and yet run your services as much as possible:

  1. Empathize with the customers. Understand what they need in these difficult times or what is affecting their business. Find out how they are temporarily closing the business or if they are still running, what support do they need. Complete information can give you better insights into the customer’s service requirements. Moreover, screening the conversation with questions about any COVID-19 patient in the customer’s household can be considered.
  2. Intelligent workforce management can be handy in times of difficulty. Shift your employees from areas that are self-sufficient to the ones that require regular service. Ensure the safety of your teams by making scheduled shifts of confined work hours.
  3. Attention to detail holds immense importance. The slightest mistake can cost you a business failure or even a human loss. Educate your technicians with proactive prevention measures and do not let them take any risks with their safety. Social distancing must be kept in mind even while field service operations go on.
  4. While mobility is affected, communication is one of the most vital sources of information as well as means of the smooth functioning of business processes. So, while retrieving information from customers, ensure taking all the necessary information and even validate the existing data. This can save up the number of field service trips, thus, ensuring limited exposure to the virus.
  5. While communication is the key, ensure the best possible methods of communication are being used. Not only with the customers, but the usage of the right tools for communication within your team also, makes it easier for the work to be done with ease, efficacy, and rapidity.

Conclusion

The analysis of the current circumstances concludes to an optimistic approach – ‘this too shall pass’. Keeping the safety of customers and employees in mind, businesses have to fight the battle against the global health hazard as well as the stemming economic crisis. With due efforts from government bodies and organizational workforce, field service management is trying to struggle and rise above the dent marked by the pandemic.

The existing features of browser-based applications and ERP systems prove to be a bonus. They are being used to deliver virtual on-site services and generate useful insights for product and service development. Companies are also trying to develop systems through which they can assist the customers themselves to solve the issue in the absence of transit permissions. Several companies have opened channels of remote customer assistance and are even offering free access. Technology itself is the key to mitigating the effects of the virus.

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