12/16/2021

Digital Process Automation for Field Service

Katie Smart's profile picture
Katie Smart Vice President, Global Marketing and Communications

What is digital process automation?

Digital process automation (DPA) is defined as the technology used to optimize manual workflows by automating and digitizing processes within them. Because those processes are more standardized with digital technology, this results in improved enterprise performance and reduces errors that traditionally prevent businesses from achieving their best results. Digital process automation in field service organizations can lead to standardization of work procedures, improved data collection, more efficient technicians, and better service outcomes.

Field Service Workflows

Field service workflows are complex, dependent upon high-quality management of customer assets and the most efficient use of human resources, particularly valuable technician time. Implementing digital process automation is not simply about replacing paperwork, but instead is a comprehensive approach that removes barriers, streamlines data collection, and implements standardized procedures through a decision tree model.


Digital process automation is straightforward for field service enterprises, in both implementation and use. With it, field technicians and service experts have step-by-step guides for task completion at their fingertips at every appointment and site visit – including in situations without stable mobile or internet access.


In short, it provides a pathway that allows companies to digitize the way they perform essential field processes today, for a stronger and more dynamic tomorrow.

How DPA Can Transform Field Service Operations

For both technicians and the customers they serve, field service involves multiple steps and touchpoints from start to finish. The path to completing a work order starts even before anyone is dispatched from the service provider’s office or warehouse, with the collection of preliminary job information the technician needs to resolve the issue accurately and quickly. Sometimes, the situations or equipment involved may be more familiar to seasoned professionals, but less so to new technicians.


Traditionally, a service technician might arrive at a job site to find that specialized equipment or expertise is needed, necessitating multiple site visits and added delays for an already anxious customer.


Other risks exist along the path to issue resolution. Some companies’ legacy systems involve pen and paper notetaking and recordkeeping, often meaning that technicians whose hands and brains are engaged in a repair or maintenance task need to periodically stop what they are doing to take manual notes, prolonging the site visit, or rely on their memory after an exhausting shift, a scenario ripe for costly mistakes.


By contrast, SightCall’s Digital Flows solution digitizes manual processes to improve efficiency and mitigate human error. With the help of standardized, step-by-step guidance, including detailed instructions and checklists, technicians and service workers can complete tasks without any ambiguity or confusion.


For companies that need to place technicians in the field and on job sites as rapidly as possible, training processes also become more straightforward. Digital process automation provides new technicians, or workers needing to upskill, with an immersive and straightforward learning experience, identical to the field service situations they will encounter on a daily basis.

DPA, BPA, BPM: What Difference do These Acronyms Make?

DPA is distinct from other forms of automation, making it a more attractive option for companies looking to enjoy the benefits of greater digitization, while also keeping human expertise and ingenuity at the center. Many process automation terms are used in the same discussion, but it can be helpful to know the difference for sure.


For example, DPA is not the same as business process automation, which digitizes many day-to-day tasks, potentially replacing, rather than augmenting, the work of people. It is also different from business process management, a more theoretical and research-based method of measuring, modeling, and automating enterprise functions.

Benefits of Digital Process Automation for Field Service

Automating technician workflows


Implementing DPA means that companies can give technicians of all skill levels or familiarities with a particular situation the steps they need for timely, accurate, and efficient task completion, minimizing error, and maximizing enterprise resources.


Reduce issue resolution time by digitizing processes


In a number of ways, digital process automation can expedite issue resolution, contributing to higher first-time fix rates for companies, one of the most difficult key performance indicators to address. For example, service technicians can cut down average handling time by collecting the information they need from the customer prior to the start of a virtual session or in-person dispatch.


Site visits can be made more successful by guaranteeing that the correct parts, tools, and technicians with certain skills are sent. And with DPA, experts can validate and test customers’ devices prior to conducting a visual assistance call, to determine whether the phone or tablet will be an effective medium of communication.


Improve regulatory compliance


Regulatory compliance, while necessary, can prove a considerable expense for companies. Regulated industries face costly fines or lost productivity if procedures are not carefully followed.


With digitized processes, workers can perform maintenance and repair while also leaving behind an audit trail of procedures that can be easily presented to regulators and inspectors.


Improving site visits and reducing duplicate callouts


With a more straightforward way to receive guidance in the field, several work orders that would have failed previously are instead successful, cutting down on the number of unnecessary on-site visits.


For example, field service technicians have immediate access to remote experts and can receive live, AR-powered assistance to help them resolve complex tasks from any mobile or wearable device. New technicians or those in training also become more effective in the field, with data showing a 41% decrease in training time post-digitization.


Call deflection and customer self-service


Service organizations as a whole spend a significant portion of their time assisting customers with many routine tasks they could perform themselves. Indeed, the 40% of customers who prefer self-service over expert assistance can be guided through a work order with the help of informative, on-screen instructions, powered by AI and AR technology.


Field service experiences tangibly become more rapid and effective, increasing their satisfaction, while also freeing up the customer service agent to focus on more complex or higher value tasks. With a self-service option more widely available, the number of necessary field dispatches decreases, allowing for greater cost savings and a smaller environmental footprint for the company.


Target and avoid problems before a site visit



The ability to “triage” an issue can reduce unnecessary steps on the path to issue resolution in multiple ways. Appointments can be made more successful by guaranteeing that the correct parts, tools, and technicians with specific skills are sent to a site.


Furthermore, with digital process automation, experts can validate and test customers’ devices prior to conducting a visual assistance call, to determine whether the phone or tablet will be an effective communication medium.


Simpler processes for high risk or high-value industries


In another example of self-service options provided by digital process automation, warranty, and insurance claim processes can be streamlined by enabling customers to file with supporting photo or video evidence, allowing adjusters to process and close claims with both speed and accuracy.


Remove complexity from internal tasks


With DPA, complexity is removed from traditionally onerous activities with a high risk of costly error, like manual data entry. This means skilled technicians can handle more jobs remotely and work at their maximum potential, regardless of their level of experience or expertise. The company can then more effectively collect, share and deliver service knowledge across the organization. This valuable data can be subsequently stored and used for employee training and quality assurance, mitigating the potential damage caused by company experts retiring or leaving.


Digital process automation also enables companies to easily construct custom forms to guide users and collect data, with embedded instructional photos and videos.


And with the help of offline mode, all aspects of a Digital Flow can still be executed with data being stored locally until a connection is restored.

Case Study 1: DPA Transforms Maintenance and Inspection of Offshore Oil Rigs

For a global gas company, digital process automation revolutionized how technicians engaged with tasks in the field, including in remote locations with limited reception. For every repair and maintenance task, their technicians access a specific digital process on their mobile device. As techs go through the automated process, they are prompted to enter all relevant information and collect media, such as photos or videos. They can scan serial or model numbers, automatically capture display readings, perform accurate AR measurements, and document and confirm work on the spot.


With the use of SightCall Digital Flows, a continuous internet connection isn’t required to access the workflow steps, or to verify that information is correct. Technicians instead load a digital flow from any space with a connection, then head out to perform their tasks. Data collected in the field is cached and seamlessly uploaded directly into the correct case file when an internet connection is restored. Expected values are also available offline so that if a technician makes an unexpected entry, they will still receive a notification that it could be incorrect, allowing them to verify the expected value range and accuracy of their work.


For the company, following a Digital Flow ensures that its technicians employ current best practices for every task, removing the need for continuous training that previously took between one to two hours away from a technician’s productive time.

Case Study 2: Process Automation Boosts Government Services

In another example, a major insurance provider had a government contract for repair services. With a large number of contractors performing the repair work, previously without a unifying process, the insurer required a digital platform to ensure compliance with stringent quality and safety standards. Improperly performed work would produce extra site visits, rework costs, and steep penalties, and could potentially jeopardize the contract itself.


Introducing Digital Flows fully digitized the overview and work process. Safety issues can be flagged immediately to trigger supervisor or adjuster approval for moving forward. And any contractor can access the Digital Flow with their mobile device, with all resulting information and media stored consistent with strict security protocols.


For the insurance company, repair projects have been completed faster with fewer errors, safety concerns are registered right away and rapidly resolved, and all information, inspections, and videos are saved to a fully auditable system, eliminating the need for risk-prone manual entry.

Case study 3: A One-stop Shop for Field Inspection and Repair

A global third-party administrator (TPA) working closely with other insurers needed a standardized way to ensure that work was performed and inspected to exacting standards.


When kicking off a project, a digital flow guides the contractor in the field to record a video of the work site while describing the work needed. A task is generated in the customer relationship management (CRM) software, notifying the relevant party to review the case file and associated media. During the repair itself, SightCall Digital Flows can also be used to monitor the quality of the work. For instance, contractors are prompted to take videos with commentary about the work for each relevant room or area in the house. If any additional work needs are identified, they can be instantly sent directly for carrier approval.


Digitizing the entire process means all contractors within the TPA network complete repair work that complies with universal quality and safety standards.


For homeowners, who in many cases are interacting with the TPA and insurer after having faced damage from catastrophic events like fires and storms, repair projects are completed faster, with fewer errors, thereby maximizing satisfaction.

Learn how SightCall can Help Your Organization Implement Digital Process Automation

Digitization is widely seen as a solution to many of the problems faced by companies across sectors, but this is only if the right approach is used. Technicians who engage with tools and technologies that are not straightforward to use and understand are less likely to be successful at realizing better field experiences.


Process optimization, versus the overlaying of tools onto existing operations, is thus pivotal for success. And digital process automation is the vehicle for more effective and people-centered digitization.


Get in touch with us today to request a SightCall demo. Our team will be able to address any questions you may have specific to your sector and the key performance indicators that digital process automation would be best suited to improve.

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