Surveying the Field Service Industry 2018, with Strategies for Growth, and CSDP

25 January 2019 | 2507 Shares

As companies with on-site or remote service operators try to transform digitally, what are their fortés and failings, and where do they see themselves and their customers in a few years? More to the point on these pages, what are the digital toolsets in use that serve as the foundation for their businesses?

These questions and many more were asked in an extensive survey taken from right across the field service industry recently. The research was carried out by Bill Pollock, of Strategies for Growth fame, one of the industry’s luminaries and a well-known public speaker and thought leader.

The questions were asked of a US and UK/European audience of industry professionals. While there were some significant differences observed between the players on the two continents, many of the responses given show how the industry is evolving across the globe– and how much the industry in the US has in common with its European & UK counterparts.

One of the most encouraging statistics to come from the survey is that the field service industry is very much committed to improvement in KPI figures– in fact, KPI improvements are top priority right across the board, be they for customer satisfaction, response times or any others internal or externally-judged benchmarks.

The commitment to customers is pretty much a given, of course, given the customer-facing nature of the industry, and naturally, a key driver is the technology that underpins both the remote personnel and that which drives the whole business function.

It’s in the technological deployment levels that the first differences between the industries on opposite sides of the Atlantic come to light. In the UK & Europe, only 57 percent of the respondents said their company used off-the-shelf field service management platform. And on that same continent, around 18 percent were relying still on paper-based processes to run their field service operations.

Companies wishing to deploy management software are not struggling with one of the traditional stumbling blocks to installing tech – management buy-in. It’s due to the consultative, business-process oriented activities of companies like CSDP that mean that management staff are aware of the benefits of software and hardware being put to best use in the line of everyday business processes.

As opposed to feeling overwhelmed or even confused by the latest in remote service management platforms, it seems that company bosses are already sold on the concept– and their concerns, according to the survey, are firmly focussed on getting a return on investment for any outlay on tech (48 percent quoting this concern as paramount).

US company CSDP (Customer Service Delivery Platform Corporation) is a supplier that knows its customers get a return on their investment. Its products aren’t one-size-fits-all. On the contrary, the company insists on a lengthy consultation process with all of its field service clients before the S-word (that’s ‘software’, by the way) is even mentioned. Because no two companies are alike, a bespoke installation and customized module offerings mean that its solutions have the price tag of the off-the-peg choice, but with bespoke tailoring.

As an aside, it’s worth noting that according to the Strategies for Growth survey, the ‘off-the-shelf with some bespoke alteration’ category of solution was the most popular model for the majority of the remote service industry.

CSDP’s role as a business consultant by proxy is perhaps best reflected by its insistence that its solutions fit into the wider business. Integration with, for instance, existing CRM systems is taken as read– no one is suggesting that legacy systems should be thrown away just for the sake of something new.

That approach chimes with the results of Pollock’s survey, which that noted that 53 percent of respondents wanted a field service management offering that integrated with an existing CRM.

This falls into step with most digitized industries’ move towards some form of integration software and/or automation platform.

In software circles, acronyms like IPaaS and RPA are used (Integration Platform as a Service, and Robotic Process Automation). In layman’s terms, joining together existing tech investments is the name of the game– the days of the all-encompassing ERP are at an end.

Instead, companies are looking for solutions that fit in with what’s often termed ‘legacy’ systems– although the term ‘business-critical’ would probably be better used.

It should be noted that the field service industry is not backward to come forwards in deploying tech for its everyday operations – there are few technophobes in any successful field service operation anymore. The vast majority (84 percent in Europe & UK) of field engineers, for example, use mobile tech to initiate orders and track work orders (80 percent).

But when we dig a little deeper, it transpires that according to Bill Pollock’s survey, only just over half of engineers have access to schematics (58 percent) out in the field, and only 56 percent have access to real-time parts and inventory levels.

It seems, then, that there’s still some way to go for a full and deeper digitization to change the field service industry for the better. Technology’s use can be extended, but that’s only effective if the management platform can integrate and draw from different, existing sources such as stock databases, logistics information, and a whole wealth of other relevant data repositories.

It takes an expert in field service delivery like CSDP to ensure that those KPIs are met and exceeded. Its expertise and long experience in the sector mean that from initial consultation to a roll-out of new solutions (as slowly or as quickly as they might be needed), the California-headquartered company will be your guide, mentor and enabler.

To hear more about how CSDP’s bespoke, powerful solutions can be made to fit your business (and not the other way around), get in touch with a representative today.