Right to Repair and Shifting Customer Expectations: Are You Ready?

Field service is undergoing a major transformation. Equipment is getting more complex, the skills gap is growing and the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation like nothing before. Additionally, the “right to repair” movement is making waves across the US and EMEA, presenting another challenge for an already fluctuating industry.

What is Right to Repair?

Simply put, Right to Repair is aimed at allowing people to fix their own products or take them to whoever they choose to repair. In many cases, manufacturers control both the supply of parts and the software needed to fix their equipment and consumers risk voiding out their warranty if they don’t have their equipment – whether it’s a cellphone or a tractor – fixed by manufacturer-approved service.

As equipment grows more complex, specialized technology like computer chips, encryption, and password-protected diagnostic tools are required for diagnostics or repair. Right to Repair aims to make all of this available to consumers and independent repair engineers.

Factors such as changing consumer demands and customers’ need to feel empowered, as well as concerns for overflowing landfills and greenhouse gas emissions by manufacturers have been driving towards Right to Repair for years now.

Currently, 14 states are either currently introducing or already debating “Right to Repair” legislation, and companies can be sure that more states will follow suit.

Additionally, last month the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted unanimously to enforce laws around right to repair, ensuring that US consumers will be able to repair their own electronic and automotive devices.

There is no doubt that Right to Repair holds a lot of benefits for both the environment and consumers. However, some manufacturers oppose this notion, arguing that it will make products less secure and could expose consumers to safety risks.

What Does Right to Repair Mean for Field Service?

It’s a good question, and one that experts are still trying to figure out. What it may mean is that right to repair could increase competition with vendor and OEM service teams by accelerating demand for 3rd party service agents. Or it could be that vendors and OEMs try and expand their teams with 3rd party service agents, something many are already doing thanks to the skills gap and the pandemic.

Above all, right to repair underscores shifting customer expectations. Customers want to minimize downtime and cost from parts and labor as much as possible. They want to avoid unnecessary and inconvenient service appointments and engineer visits. And most of all, they want to be able to do basic repairs whenever possible.

This means that field service organizations must start placing customer experience at the forefront and start investing in the tools necessary to deliver on all of these demands.

How Can Organizations Prepare?

The pandemic has rapidly accelerated the digital transformation and research is showing that field service executives are committed to investing in solutions to that will bring their company up to speed. However, it’s important that they are investing their money in the right areas:

  • Self Service: Focusing on tools that will enable self-service, such as knowledge bases, FAQ’s and 3D animations will be crucial in helping organizations – and customers – adjust to right to repair with ease.
  • Efficiency: Organizations need to make sure they are supplying their field service teams, customer service representatives and 3rd party workers with the knowledge they need. Having quick access to accurate servicing and parts information will ensure fast fixes and minimize down time.
  • Cost Lowering: Return visits, unnecessary truck rolls and incorrect parts orders are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to excessive operational costs. The right mobile knowledge tools will dramatically decrease all three, increasing profit margins.

Industry experts are still trying to figure out how right to repair is going to impact the field service sector. However, there is no doubt that companies who are already dedicated to digitally-driven service and enhanced customer experiences will fare better than the laggards. By investing now in the tools needed to future-proof your organization, you will be able to minimize any negative impacts and rise above the shifting tides.