The field services industry has seen many disruptions in the last decade. This required industry players to keep up with trends and other transformations to stay on top and continue providing value to their customers.
Bob Feiner, the Senior Vice President of Dell Technologies’ Deployment and Partner Services, shared what he sees as current challenges in the market. He also shared how Dell is adapting to disruptive forces as well as how he envisions service organizations would evolve.
In his current role, Bob handles all teams that support, deploy, and manage Dell’s global customers across different segments. Bob’s teams provide services throughout a product or service’s lifecycle. Aside from this, they also provide education services, recycling, and other field services.
One major disruption that affected Dell recently is the pandemic. It had to make immediate changes to respond to the demands brought about by restrictions and lockdowns. Dell made changes in terms of field personnel deployment, certification training, and recycling of old equipment.
At the start of the pandemic, Dell deployed field technicians to help their customers adjust to the digitization of most of their business processes. Their field service technicians adhered to safety protocols as their risk of exposure to the virus is higher because they visit customers in their home offices. Dell also created a system that tracks their field technicians’ locations. This way, they will know how fast services are being provided. This is also a way for them to determine if their technicians were in areas considered critical.
Bob added that field technicians, or any of their service partners, know that if they are not comfortable in a given situation, Dell would not force them to handle it. Their safety is always the company’s priority.
Dell also changed its certification training program for internal and external consumers. Dell offered online training, either on-demand or virtual, led by an instructor. They were able to continue providing the same service while using a different medium.
Part of Dell’s field service for the lifecycle of a product is recycling. They can pull out old devices of customers for proper disposal. During the pandemic, Dell saw a surge in the number of old devices as companies shifted to digitization and employees began to work from home.
Industry-wise, Bob believes that certain changes will have a longer impact.
One of these changes is the blending of commercial and consumer business. In the past, field service providers like Dell categorize their customers as either commercial or consumer. But with employees now working from home, the line has now blurred as many people have transferred their offices to their homes. This will have an implication on the business model generally followed by companies in this industry.
Another long-lasting change that will affect field services is that of digital transformation and a corresponding increase of remote services. Businesses need to accelerate their digital transformation, particularly for those applications that minimize engagements. They also need to train and retrain technicians, upgrade their tools, and equip them with capabilities that would make them more effective and efficient.
Digital transformation will become even more important as companies see the benefit of providing remote services. The pandemic highlighted how companies can benefit in terms of costs and safety if they continue transforming their operations and give more focus on remote services. Overall, this will help an organization’s cost structure while elevating the customer’s experience.
On-site transactions will still be present, but companies are more likely to consider if such transactions can be done remotely. An example of this is called threat remediation. According to Bob, when an entity attacked a company in the past, Dell would send people to the physical location to address the threat and remediate its effects. Dell has now found a way to do threat remediation remotely. Remotely addressing attacks allows Dell to move fast while saving on resources.
A shift in consumer behavior and expectations will also remain in the near future. For one, consumers would want remote services to continue. For instance, customers will expect their service providers to repair their connections remotely instead of sending technicians to their homes. Sending a technician is not desirable from the customer’s point of view because it will take time and could be risky in terms of public health.
In the long run, Bob believes that self-service and assisted technology will become more prevalent. For organizations providing field services, they would still be around, but their roles will be very different. This could mean greater specialization among field technicians. In-person services will be greatly reduced as technologies are expected to address consumer problems. In a way, it would be about humans augmenting technology as opposed to technology augmenting human services.