Editor's Note: This post was originally published on February 14, 2019, and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
A field service business with a solid mobile workforce is always a few steps ahead of its competitors. But even the very best field service operation encounters mishaps, without a field service solution.
Field service operations are complex, and the data that springs from them is precious in managing the entire business. But because field service data comes from numerous sources, disparate systems, and different formats, it can be as overwhelming as applicable.
We’ll have more on how to deal with “data overwhelm” later. But first, imagine yourself in the following real-life scenarios. If you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, it might be time to focus on finding a field service management (FSM) solution to help you avoid making mistakes. (Please note that they’re not ranked in order of importance because they’re ALL important!)
#1 – Field technicians are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Picture this scenario: Maxine is intelligent and excellent at what she does. Staff and customers alike praise her for her patience and enthusiasm. She usually does a solid job when processing customer requests for service, but about once a week, she gets overwhelmed and mixes up orders. For example, she sent a technician to the wrong address because she incorrectly wrote down the customer’s information – and the technician ended up 30 miles away!
Learning of her mistake upset Maxine, not to mention how it upended the technician’s day and annoyed the customer. Maxine apologized. But the technician had to travel the next day, and the customer was dissatisfied with the experience.
Are you regularly missing appointments, or do you find yourself overbooked and short of resources? If you are tired of scheduling mishaps, it is time to invest in a new FSM solution. The best field service solution comes with real-time dashboards and precise automation, making scheduling efficient.
With a robust field service solution, these mistakes do not happen. Instead, when customers call with service requests, staff pulls up the records, creates an order, plans the route, and schedules a technician. When the field technician leaves, they have what they need to successfully serve the customer the first time: the correct address, full customer details, and complete asset information.
#2 – You’re growing, but your field service solution is not increasing with you.
Congratulations on signing that important new customer! But don’t celebrate just yet. See, although this new customer is headquartered 50 miles from your main office, it’s in a different state or country– meaning systems and processes must incorporate new regulations and tax codes.
This customer has 1200 HVAC units in 400 locations that need to be maintained and repaired – immediately! But there aren’t enough field technicians to provide the service, and you’re supposed to serve the customer in two weeks. Still, you need to train new technicians. You have an old legacy system (or a paper-based system) that is hard to upsize to accommodate the customer’s needs. Then, you need to learn the new tax codes and regulations. (Did we mention you need complete specs on the equipment you’ll be servicing?)
If you have a powerful new FSM solution, you have a flexible, adaptable platform that accommodates future growth and change. For example, adding new customers is straightforward. A new system can integrate all data, new technicians can learn the system quickly, and they’ll have complete asset specs and total customer and asset history at their fingertips. Adding new regulatory guidelines, maps, and route information is also a streamlined process – all that guide technicians, front office staff, and the billing department.
#3 – New technicians learn your field service solutions for weeks
Even the most seasoned field technician faces obstacles when learning new systems and following unfamiliar processes. For example, if you’re training technicians on how to fill out the required forms and then instructing them what to do after job completion –entering the asset information and the right invoicing details– you’re spending an excessive amount of time.
Instead, technicians can be up and running in less than an hour if you’re using a powerful, streamlined FSM platform. Why spend two to four weeks training a technician when in 30 minutes, you can get him up and running? With the right platform and mobile app, dashboards are intuitive, and everything is easy to understand. Your technicians will thank you.
#4 – Your technicians never arrive on time, and your customers complain. A lot!
The first step in customer service is technicians showing up on time. Excellent customer service means that if the technician runs behind schedule, the customer is immediately alerted.
With the right field service solution, a technician has the next customer’s information, including the phone number and the job details.
FSM solutions are not just for routine planning and optimization. They allow technicians to have information at their fingertips. They also communicate urgent job-related issues. For example, when encountering problems on a job, and the technician knows they won’t be able to complete the job– also meaning they won’t make it to other jobs that day – the technician can let the back-office know with a few clicks on his mobile app.
#5 – Your technicians have to return to the same job multiple times.
Your first-time fix rates are decreasing. Is this because your team spends hours traveling to the office for the right tools or parts or looking in reference manuals? Or is it because Maxine dispatches technicians with the wrong skill set to jobs that require different skills? Whatever is causing them to return to the job multiple times should be identified and fixed – pronto!
Without a powerful mobile app, these issues happen frequently. When these situations arise, the technician must return later. It also means that the customer is annoyed, and Maxine apologizes again. Additionally, it means there’s no way to recover hours when the technician was on-site but couldn’t do the job. Your employees are mobile, and the information they need should be, too.
Imagine this scenario: The technician with the right skills is dispatched to the job, but he gets to the job site and realizes an additional piece of equipment needs repairing. With a mobile app, he can register the equipment (such as a model number), and the specifications and repair instructions are available on his mobile app. The technician can complete the original job and the additional job. The customer is pleased to have working equipment, and the back office is pleased because the invoice is on schedule.
#6 – Your service is fast, but invoicing is not.
When invoices are delayed, your cash flow suffers. Technicians are great at maintaining equipment and at repairing equipment. But are they providing all the information that billing needs?
If the answer is no, equip the technicians with a dynamic-yet-simple-to-use field service solution like Gomocha FMP360! The earlier you send an invoice; the earlier payment is received. And the earlier you send a complete and accurate invoice. As a result, the more likely customers will NOT call with questions that slow down payment. Instead, they’ll pay the invoice.
#7 – You still use paper, pencils, and spreadsheets to track activities.
Why continue to manage your schedule, orders, inventory, and techs using yesterday’s methods? Paper-based systems are often inefficient; if paperwork is damaged or lost, it’s challenging to ensure accurate and timely completion of jobs.
Printed work orders can be lost or damaged. If that happens, it requires backtracking, apologizing to customers, research, and estimating the problem – all of which can lead to lost productivity, billing errors, unhappy customers, and revenue. Avoid headaches and lost revenue by going digital.
All the above scenarios are not meant to point fingers or accuse you of being behind the times. Instead, they are meant to inspire you to think about your operations.
If you struggle to manage your information, you are not alone. Research shows that the need for solutions to help with field service data management, analysis, and reporting, ranks above other functionality. Of course, you want to run a tight ship, and FSM solutions help. But you also want a solution that enables you to harness the valuable information available and evaluate to ensure that your organization is prepared for the future.
For a free two-hour assessment of your organization and a customized demo of Gomocha’s FMP360, call 240-403-6001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.