The global service sector has been severely impacted by the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted markets, slowed down supply chains and imposed travel restrictions. Experts estimate that the crisis could cost the world economy $2.7 trillion. With the Canadian economy reporting a historic 2.6% fall in GDP, the highest drop ever recorded by the country, all businesses are exploring emergency contingency plans for field services.
3 Key Factors to Consider for an Emergency Contingency Plan
Many businesses are scrambling to mitigate the repercussions of COVID-19 on their field service strategy. Here are 3 key factors you must consider when implementing an emergency contingency plan.
1. Plan for Lack of On-Site Labor
The biggest challenge arising from the Coronavirus is the need to maintain social distance which has a massive impact on on-site labor. In addition, there is a tremendous loss of experience-based knowledge due to the retirement employees from the Baby Boomer generation. New recruits are easy to come by, but training field service operators is problematic due to limited contact regulations.
Explore Unconventional Options
In order to plan for the new normal, it is essential to consider unconventional solutions. These strategies must consider restrictions on person-to-person contact and offer solutions that allow remote diagnostics or repair. This is where the Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) present themselves as ideal candidates to be leveraged in the face of coronavirus-related challenges.
The Intelligent Automation (IA) of machinery and equipment with Industry 4.0 advancements can maximize the value of IIoT interconnectivity, with predictive alerts for service requirements and functionality that enables remote services. Being able to diagnose issues remotely opens possibilities for self-service in some cases, and eliminates the need for an agent to travel on-site to figure out the issue.
In the face of a shrinking workforce, companies must provide greater knowledge bases for employees, so it is easier to drive higher quality and faster service. Conveniently available knowledge repositories are a critical factor for sustaining field service in challenging circumstances.
2. Optimize Your Component Inventory & Conserve Parts
Even the largest companies are feeling the impact of supply chain disruption due to coronavirus. Ensure that you have thorough visibility of your inventory – a modern ERP with Intelligent Automation (IA) that integrates various functions is invaluable for this purpose. IA can automatically solve a number of inventory-related management issues, and with cloud connectivity your operators can be better informed on the status of parts used, issues resolved, parts pending delivery, issues pending resolution and so much more.
Keep in mind that inexperienced technicians often replace components that are not broken, or in some cases attempt a trial and error method of finding parts that work. This is wasteful and a strain on inventory. You can mitigate this by implementing Industry 4.0 technology-based solutions to help your field staff repair the root cause of the issue accurately on the first attempt, saving time and money and reducing components utilized.
Ensure Proactive Client Interaction
Managing Customer Experience (CX) is a crucial factor – to be understanding and empathetic with your target audience during the massive strain and disruption of coronavirus, can be the key to success. Research shows that 52% of consumers are willing to pay more for a fast and efficient CX, which is why 74% of top financially performing organizations in Canada have an executive in charge of improving CX. In order to keep satisfaction high by meeting consumer expectations, communication is imperative.
Frequent and early interaction solves issues pre-emptively. Operational executives can proactively offer custom resolutions for client problems and schedule preventative maintenance on machinery and equipment. Industry 4.0 with IA technologies can remind operators about regular machinery check-ups and even send updated reports on progress to customers thanks to the IIoT.
3. Strategize for The New Norm
Strategizing an emergency contingency plan for field services goes a long way in mitigating potential service disruptions. Planning for a future wherein resources are limited, cost-cutting is unavoidable and an experienced work force is limited, requires a great deal of foresight. To be able to project accurately and prepare for the impact of any curve balls this pandemic may throw at your organization requires technology such as Industry 4.0 and IIoT to be a part of the equation.
Industry 4.0 has Intelligent Automation capabilities and enhancements which are critical in enabling continued and optimized field service operations. IIoT in particular is the technology that an increasing number of industry manufacturers are turning to in order to maintain business operations.
If you’d like to explore leveraging innovative technology to bolster your business in these challenging times, we would be glad to help. Essential Software Solutions Inc. has Industry 4.0, ERP, and field service expertise. We also have over 4 decades of experience supporting businesses across Canada helping companies expand market share and boost revenue. We can support you with best practices guidance for establishing an emergency contingency plan for field service. Reach out to our team at ESS to find out more.
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