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Preventive Maintenance Will Future-proof Your Field Service

Preventive maintenance helps consumers and businesses stave off equipment downtime. Here's how the right field service management solution sets you up for success.

A field service worker inspects equipment
Maintaining existing assets rather than replacing them reduces the pollution that accompanies production, packaging, and recycling. [Sritana/Getty Images]

More than ever, preventive maintenance — the routine maintenance of equipment and assets to prevent unexpected downtime — remains a critical cornerstone of field service management.  Keeping equipment up to date and healthy before it breaks down helps improve asset performance and reduce unplanned downtime for anything from household appliances to industrial machines. 

More proactive consumers keep tight maintenance schedules for everything from washing machines to swimming pools. Industrial manufacturers rely on preventive maintenance, as unplanned downtime costs them nearly $50 billion annually, with equipment failure responsible for a whopping 42% of sidelined machines. That’s a nightmare scenario for facility managers.

A few key trends highlight the importance of preventive maintenance, as well as a reliable field service management system to help book service calls, route technicians to the right locales, and automate maintenance schedules. 

I spoke to Gary Brandeleer and Yung Chen, who are both product management directors at Salesforce, about these trends and the importance of preventive asset maintenance during these challenging times.

The great global supply chain pain

Supply chain constraints have emerged as one of the many ripple effects of the pandemic, according to Brandeleer. 

You may have heard the stories of product procurement struggles. Perhaps you’ve even experienced one or two yourselves. 

Maybe your neighbor ordered a new washing machine only to learn that it wouldn’t arrive for three to six months, courtesy of home appliance shortfalls. Your cousin Eddie meanwhile groused that the new car he wants is on backorder because of some computer chip shortage. And why do new cars need so many computer chips anyway? 

With preventive maintenance measures, your neighbor could ensure that his current washing machine keeps washing, while Cousin Eddie can hold on to his old car a bit longer. Extending the longevity of your assets lets you bypass supply chain snafus and gives you the luxury of replacing your equipment on your own schedule. 

Soaring demand leads to inflation

Component scarcity also triggers inflation of base materials, whose costs have “exploded” amid the pandemic, Brandeleer says. This elevates overall prices, causing consumers and businesses alike to delay new product purchases.

Those appliances whose prices were routinely slashed during the holidays? Yeah, forget them. 

Gadget deals have become scarce and customers, of course, want to avoid paying full price. When there is no other option, sometimes the option is not to buy at all. 

Consuming new versions of existing products over and over like we did for generations is simply unsustainable.

Gary Brandeleer, Salesforce

Drive toward environmental sustainability 

With virtually every company yearning to “go green,” organizations are racing to reduce their carbon footprints in accordance with environmental sustainability goals. There is now more emphasis on maintaining and repairing everything from printers to forklifts instead of tossing old models into landfills.

“Consuming new versions of existing products over and over like we did for generations is simply unsustainable,” Brandeleer says.

Maintaining existing assets rather than replacing them reduces the pollution that accompanies production, packaging, and recycling.

The case for preventive maintenance

Retaining household appliances and industrial machines longer due to concerns about supply chain shortages, inflation, and environmental sustainability all lead to more calls for repair services. 

While traditional “break-fix” relationships yield good short-term margin for service providers, they impact long-term customer satisfaction, says Chen.

Nobody likes to be surprised by a breakdown that results in unexpected equipment downtime, idle workers, and unbudgeted expenses.

Yung Chen, Salesforce

“Nobody likes to be surprised by a breakdown that results in unexpected equipment downtime, idle workers, and unbudgeted expenses,” Chen says. 

And that’s where the value of preventive maintenance contracts is proven time and again, Brandeleer says.

Embracing preventive maintenance helps customers keep products longer and get more value out of their equipment, which will help them decrease costs and improve margins, Brandeleer says. Such contracts also help service providers generate recurring revenue streams while strengthening customer relationships. 

“Having this kind of contract with your customers is extremely important because it’s going to stabilize your revenue and it’s going to make sure that you get this kind of relationship with your customers where you know that they’re going to call you rather than your competitor when they need help,” Brandeleer says. 

Choose the right field service tool 

Field service management remains as robust as ever. Eighty-one percent of 7,000 decision-makers say that field service remains a key part of their strategy, according to Salesforce’s Fourth Edition “State of Service” report.

The market for field service management solutions that include preventive maintenance for critical assets is also robust, so carefully choose the tool that best serves the business.

The right field service management tool integrates with your CRM system and includes a single console that provides a holistic view of critical assets for contact center agents and dispatchers who assign and track jobs. The solution allows you to track your installed base and automatically generates a preventive maintenance schedule based on such criteria as time or usage. 

Dispatchers see schedules, track locations, assign tasks, and eliminate over-scheduling or job crossover. Dispatchers also track parts and inventory, ensuring every assigned field worker has what they need to complete the job. 

This 360-degree view enables service providers to easily create and track assets, ensuring that they can deliver the proper parts to the right customer, at the right time, and at any place of their choosing — all while generating key business insights. 

The right solution also provides self-service tools. Remote assistance raises the service quotient by guiding customers to solve problems, while appointment-tracking features help them keep tabs on the schedule on the day of service.

Whether you’re just getting started in choosing a field service management solution or looking to upgrade your current product, choose the solution that aligns with your business goals.

Clint Boulton is a writer based in Connecticut. He has spent the last 10 years writing about IT leadership topics for IDG's, as well as The Wall Street Journal's CIO Journal. Clint is a graduate of the University of Connecticut's undergraduate journalism program and Fairfield University's graduate school of education and allied professions.

More by Clint

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