Delivering exceptional field service isn’t just a job—it’s a mission. Respond well to snags and breakdowns, and you create lifelong customers. Cause delays or confusion, and clients vanish into the void.
When your team doesn’t have the resources and expertise to get things up and running again, it not only leads to headaches for customers but it can dent technicians’ morale in a job that might already have long, unpredictable hours. Half of frontline employees report being burned out at work, according to research from Microsoft’s 2023 Work Trend Index report. And 66 percent say they don’t have enough time to finish tasks on the job.
Here’s the good news. Now AI and data-driven technologies can work alongside frontline technicians to speed up responses and lend a hand when they’re out in the field. These smart systems help save time and complement your team’s know-how for a more rewarding experience on the job. Here’s how to tap into new technologies to save time, help customers, and boost your technicians’ on-site intelligence.
Responding to an Alert
Whether your teams are fixing an air conditioner on a warehouse roof, installing internet lines, or delivering equipment in subzero temperatures, their work very often begins with an alert prompted by a customer complaint: Systems are out. Pipes are leaking. Compressors are down. And then the scramble begins to find a solution.
The challenge: Very often, technicians need to head out on the road before they have a sense of what the glitch is—and what equipment or parts they need to load onto the truck. They might have to show up, make the diagnosis, call around to find a part, and then backtrack down some lonesome highway to find it.
The solution: When technicians know what they need up front, it spares them from all kinds of hassles. With technology tracking work orders and monitoring inventories across your workforce, the Dynamics 365 Field Service mobile app delivers information before technicians set out for a job. They might need to make adjustments, like transferring necessary hooks and hoses from a warehouse to a truck, or meeting a nearby driver in the field to get the electrical boxes their vehicle isn’t carrying.
Powered by generative AI, Copilot in Dynamics 365 Field Service can also draft work orders automatically based on customer requests that come in by email. That speeds up entire processes from the outset, smoothing the work of dispatchers and technicians alike.
In a perfect world, of course, system failures would fix themselves before they became a problem. That’s what happens with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. Connected devices remotely detect hiccups before your customers are aware. This allows for automated remote self-correction and the predictive forecasting, monitoring, and analyzing of connected devices for potential issues.
Let’s say a connected device in an HVAC system triggers a warning alert about a potential glitch. Using historical device data and predictive analytics, the system might recommend restarting the unit or scheduling a site visit, staving off future headaches for everyone.
No matter how skilled and experienced a technician is, nobody can have all the answers. With that iffy HVAC system, for example, you might want a more specialized technician to oversee certain repairs. Effectively managing inventory and technician time creates a powerful competitive advantage for any field service organization.
The challenge: In a traditional operation, technicians are often dispatched based on availability, not proximity to the customer or experience with a specific task. They may arrive on-site with limited access to customer information and device history. Or worse, they get there and realize they’re the wrong technician for the job. All this makes the fix impossible on a first visit and drives up overall costs (and aggravation) for the customer and your field service organization.
The solution: Assign the right people to the right jobs. Resource Scheduling Optimization, an add-in to Dynamics 365 Field Service, automatically suggests the technicians, equipment, and facilities best equipped to handle a job.
Improved efficiency drives revenue and reduces overtime while ensuring more predictable arrival and completion times. Everyone benefits, whether you’re a customer, a manager, or a technician in the field.
Back to our HVAC example: a dispatcher can check an electronic booking map at 7:05 a.m. to see where the best repair person for the job is standing by. The right person can check the work order at a glance in Microsoft Teams at 7:09, and have access to step-by-step instructions on the Field Service mobile app as they head out by 7:28 to get the job done.
Streamlining On-site Tasks
Too often, on-site technicians lack convenient access to vital customer information about, say, previous site visits, purchase history, or other details needed to assess, troubleshoot, and deliver the right services. How can they do their research while on the go?
The challenge: A field agent with the right tools and know-how saves money and time. Reducing service delays can increase equipment uptime and customer satisfaction, while reducing call volume and time spent on-site.
The solution: To solve a problem quickly and efficiently on-site, technicians need help and information that’s in-context for the job. An intelligent recap from Copilot can summarize pages of laborious work orders. Real-time inventory management synchronizes and tracks inventory down to the truck level with real-time visibility to increase first-time fix rates. Mobile forms make it easy for people in the field to log their assessments and notes, and knowledge base software turns common customer questions and feedback into digital articles and videos that can guide people as they work.
Even when a technician is equipped with knowledge and resources on the job site, certain issues require guidance from other experts. They might even need a whole team of pros to help troubleshoot and plan solutions, and that can eat up time and productivity.
The challenge: Yes, an expert is usually just a phone call away, but they’re not always available, and it can be difficult to communicate and collaborate over a speakerphone or video chat when someone’s working on equipment in challenging conditions.
The solution: Whether a technician is deep in a utility hole or tethered to a broken wind turbine at sea, the Field Service mobile app can provide step-by-step guided instructions, pictures, and videos that explain their immediate task. And if they don a hands-free HoloLens 2 or hold up a smartphone equipped with remote assist capabilities, they and their team can share a real-time view of what they’re seeing. “With a headset, you can project a 3D-rendered image directly over the device you’re looking at and let AI guide you on the steps to take,” says John Doyle, Senior Director Product Marketing, Microsoft. It’s “open this door, pull this lever, add this part.”
Throughout the day, AI can help your team use resources effectively and improve experiences for customers. That’s as true for HVAC engineers as it is for telecom installers or remote delivery workers. With richer information available on the front line, and expert support a click away, your service teams can stay on top of updates and solve problems as quickly as they arise.