6 Essential Features For Field Service Applications
March 1, 2016
For management of field service teams, data has proven time and again that mobile software is the most efficient tool for engineers and technicians in the field. By 2018, Gartner predicts more companies will adapt to mobile with 70% of field workers using a tablet or device in the field. Also, Aberdeen Group predicts that 63% of leading service organizations will invest in mobile as a key tactic to improve field service performance.
“Think of data generated by a FSM solution as lever that can either leak cost or channel people in the right direction.” – Lisa Disselkamp, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Companies who have yet to take the leap for mobile face these challenges on a daily basis:
- lack of real-time information
- reduced productivity
- lower customer satisfaction
- reduced profitability
On the other hand, life with mobile can improve overall productivity by 30-40% and profitability by 20-25% for the service company.
According to Field Service News, at the core of every field service manager’s job is a foundational goal: “Get the right engineer to the right job with the right parts required for that job as quickly and efficiently as possible.” But how can managers accomplish these objectives?
If your company has made the decision to integrate a mobile app, it’s important to carefully consider what features will be useful to your users in the field. It is common for companies to get excited about implementing a new, cutting-edge solution and plan an app with an extensive set of features, but will lose sight of the app’s true purpose. The danger in jamming a long list of features into the first product is the risk of wasting time and budget on details you think are important, but a user may not want or need.
Gartner suggests field service applications include several specific features if they are to help field engineers provide the best customer service. These features include:
Optimized Scheduling and Geolocation
Field service technicians usually visit multiple locations on a daily basis. A survey from Advance Field Service showed that out of 123 service organizations, 63% said the ability to access work schedules and complete first-time fixes on-site are two priorities.
Field service technicians struggle to manage their time and maintain constant communication with their customers during long days spent traveling to and from appointments. However, a geolocation feature offers a method of systematizing their highly-involved work day in many ways. Geolocation provides the engineer a simple way of viewing their appointments based on distance, therefore allowing them to plan their trips accordingly and efficiently.
Gone are the days of attempting to map out routes with no regards to time and distance. Technicians can now appreciate a fool-proof configuration of their routes, saving both money and time relating to truck roll. Additionally, geolocation gives both customers and managers a way of tracking their engineer. Through GPS, managers can hold their employees accountable, and customers can monitor the movement of their technicians.
Equally as helpful with providing excellent customer service is the push notification component within the geolocation feature. Consider an Uber-type approach to notifying customers of a technician’s location. Customers are not only alerted to your technician’s estimated time of arrival, but they can engage in 2-way communication if needed. The ability to openly communicate within the application tracks correspondence between the technician and customer, eliminating the need for any phone calls or texts to be made outside of the app experience.
- Knowledge Center
No technician can be expected to have an answer to every question, so it’s extremely helpful to have resources within the app for reference. In the instance where a technician comes across a problem, having the ability to research product resources within an app-based knowledge center will save the technician time and energy. It will also keep customers happy and give them confidence that their service provider is prepared to solve their problem. Video streaming how-tos can be extremely useful, especially if the app is enhanced with augmented reality features that walk the technician through a typical repair. It’s a win-win situation.
- Inventory Management
Since technicians’ needs for different products or parts differ from location to location, having an app that stores the service information and parts needed at each customer’s location can add significant time savings to a technician’s workflow. Additionally, an app that allows technicians to scan bar codes of certain parts will help their department manager keep an organized log. The app can also show available parts at a warehouse for the technician to pick up before going to a location or inform warehouse workers what parts they should load onto a technician’s truck. An app will keep all of the information organized with images to make sure your field agent doesn’t miss any parts or show up empty handed.
With Apple Pay and Android Pay popularizing mobile payments, the inclusion of electronic invoicing within a field service app should be a no-brainer. All necessary information typically recorded on paper is conveniently organized in one digital file within the app, tracking all activity from the time the engineer starts working with a customer to the time the job is complete and the invoice paid. When a customer signs an electronic receipt, they know the billing process has immediately started instead of signing a paper receipt or writing a check and wondering when the money will clear their account.
- Customer Profile
Mobile technology can also create a competitive advantage by providing companies with the intelligent data to understand and anticipate their customers’ needs, allowing them to. act quickly and accurately. This is true whether the customer is serviced by a company employee or by a third party contractor. No matter who answers the phone or shows up at the front door, every service worker should be a brand’s best ambassador and equipped with the right tools and knowledge to make every moment successful. A mobile app that stores the customer’s profile, history, products and more will help the engineer be prepared and provide the best service, based on the customer’s preferences.
Mobile software has the ability to provide enormous amounts of efficiencies and cost-savings for companies with field service teams. Even though investing in mobile is a huge commitment, the ROI and benefits far outweigh the initial capital investment. Any managers of field service teams investing in mobile software will see improved productivity and increased profitability while enhancing overall customer satisfaction. So, what are you waiting for?