Look, no hands! How autonomous vehicles free up engineers to do more in field service

self driving car field service

May 31 is “National Autonomous Vehicles Day,” a chance for the world to show some love to the cars of the future. Autonomous vehicles are increasingly present in our day to day lives and workplaces, and will only have a further part to play in the years to come. According to the Brooking Institute, a quarter of all cars will be autonomous by 2040. And when it comes to dealing with the current “Uberized” consumer environment, machine to machine (M2M) communication gives field service firms a great chance to stay competitive.

Autonomous cars’ inevitable—and eagerly anticipated—wide-scale adoption is undoubtedly going to transform the field service industry in the years to come. Here are just three improvements both providers and consumers will see:

Faster Service

In the field service industry, businesses can save time and money, and boost productivity with optimal route guidance for their engineers out on call. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and a proliferation of devices connected to the internet, cars can benefit from connectivity-enabled data streams. Essentially, the car will know the quickest way to get to a customer, or even let the customer know that there’s an unavoidable delay. In field service, when an engineer is late knowing the reason softens the blow, improving customer satisfaction. In addition, rather than being told to wait in across an eight hour period, customers will be able to know to the minute when their car (with or without engineer) is going to arrive.

Better Service

Repetitive and time-consuming tasks are often delegated to automation, allowing humans to put their skills to better use. In the field service industry, autonomous cars will contribute here too. If field service providers send cars with the necessary equipment direct to customers for a job they can do themselves, engineers get freed up to attend issues that really require human attention. Large and challenging issues that arise will therefore get solved faster and more efficiently, optimizing the engineers’ time.

Stronger Service

Imagine an engineer leaves a vital part back at base when heading out to a job. Frustrating, right? The result will be an exasperated customer, a loss of productivity, and more time spent travelling. However, autonomous vehicles can allay many of these issues and make for a stronger end user experience. A fleet of autonomous vehicles provides fantastic backup in case of human error, ensuring that engineers can carry out a first-time fix.

Tackling customer expectation in the field service industry is no mean feat, especially with the continued increase in demand for great customer service. There are various issues to overcome before the rollout of autonomous vehicles across the board, namely addressing concerns over security and precedent. This is new territory, and providers are wary of failures propagating a lack of customer confidence.

However, with recent news announcing that autonomous vehicles are being tested on public roads, autonomous vehicles aren’t going to disappear. The benefits are exciting for everyone in the industry, as well as customers. Faster, better, and stronger experiences will come in the wake of driverless vehicles, so hands-free cars will ultimately allow for a more hands-on field service offering for consumers.

For more field service management trends and tips, visit the Field Service Matters blog.

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Paul Whitelam

Paul Whitelam is Group VP of Product Marketing at ClickSoftware, where he works with field service management leaders across a variety of industries. Paul has more than twenty years’ experience in enterprise software, working on both the technical and business aspects of many of the areas that are fundamental to field service such as mobility and sensor technology (Nokia), data management (Endeca), and machine learning, SaaS and GIS (HERE).

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