Benefits and Challenges of Mobile Field Service
With the advancements in field service management software going hand-in-hand with the mobile evolution, the focus in service operations is quite firmly now on the field worker. The technician or engineer has long been the face of the organization and often the only direct contact a customer will have, so the customer experience they are able to deliver counts for a great deal.
To give the best experience the technician needs a mobile solution which helps them to do their job in the best possible way. The workflow to and from the back office has to be seamless as this quick and easy access to information enables better decision-making and ultimately improved resolution. Here are just some of the challenges of mobile field service.
Managing operational costs
Managing operational costs in a business that has field service workers can be a trying process. There are many variables that can affect profitability, so it’s imperative to optimize every opportunity to keep costs down. OPEX such as fluctuating fuel costs, high overhead, and low first-time fix rates, and employee churn all make it challenging to maintain control of expenses.
GetApp Lab, research division of GetApp – the leading premium business app discovery platform on the web – has provided results from a panel of more than 100 US-based small and medium-sized businesses that operate a mobile workforce to determine what the biggest challenges they faced. The number one result is that these companies struggle to keep operational costs in line (25.7%).
To compensate for variable costs, a business can move to stabilize OPEX by reducing areas of revenue leakage. For example, a company that’s managing day-to-day operations with a paper and/or whiteboard process is missing opportunities to make their operations more seamless. Implementing a field service management system provides visibility for dispatchers to verify when jobs are complete, but they’re also able to schedule calls in closer proximity to one another to reduce travel time and fuel costs. This ability addresses the second top concern for small businesses, that of scheduling and dispatching.
Back office and field communication
Another area that may be improved lies in the end-to-end, bidirectional communication between the back office and the field, which helps in the management of workflow and processes. Eliminating the need for data entry and the need to decipher the handwriting of field workers reduces errors and the amount of time spent translating paperwork.
Companies with a mobile workforce may experience high employee churn as a result of stress in the field. Multitasking behind the wheel with paperwork, low safety standards, and a low first-time fix rate all contribute to reasons for high turnover and ultimately, higher costs. Automation of the service chain through mobile technology enables the field service worker to function in a less stressful, employee-considerate environment, helping field service workers to feel more valued and less likely to leave. This environment also lends itself to being a recruiting tool for qualified new hire candidates.
The Benefits of Mobile Field Service
Access to essential job data anytime, anywhere
Nearly every time you or I call our Internet service provider about a problem, we’re told to reset the router manually. If the call is interrupted or the error happens again, we’re again told to reset the router. Customers who endure this type of experience in their personal lives expect much better in the B2B space. Not only is their financial investment more, but a failure to meet their needs could cost them their jobs and their livelihood. Smart, in-field mobility helps to resolve this challenge by enabling your engineers to prevent making your business known for having a “reset the router” reputation in your industry.
Mobility, and particularly when used with field service-based businesses, equips engineers to arrive at a customer’s site with access to work orders, customer history, and any other pertinent information needed to try to remedy a service call on the first visit. The flexibility that FieldAware provides extends this ability to locations that are even off-the-grid for a mobile connection, ensuring that engineers have the information needed to complete jobs as ordered. Once they are within range again, data can be synced up with the back office.
Real-time troubleshooting through better on-site materials
Sometimes clients misdiagnose a problem or don’t fully grasp its depth. This means a field engineer arrives and faces a very different issue. Mobility through field service management facilitates access to product manuals, repair guidance, and more, so the engineer can make the best use of their expertise with on-site educational tools related to the equipment they’re servicing.
Equipping engineers with the information needed to provide a higher level of service goes a long way to protect customer relationships with your business. Field engineers are able to appear competent, knowledgeable, and can position themselves as an extension of the business they are there to serve.
Capture Accurate Customer Job Details
The drive after visiting a customer location gives your field engineers plenty of time to forget key service details that may be helpful in assessing the customer value, identifying upsell opportunities, evaluating the equipment being serviced, and preparing the next engineer who must visit the site. And, companies that are reliant upon a paper- or email-based process suffer by wasting valuable opportunities to better communicate needed information.
Field service management through mobile devices, however, allows for the immediate input of job details, including capturing photos and videos for more accurate documentation, as well as alerting future personnel of potential safety concerns of a job site before they leave the customer’s location.
Mobile field service solutions take data capture one step further – customers can sign off on work orders when a service engineer finishes the job. This delivers another layer of communication and verification that protects both the customer’s interest and your business reputation.
Streamlined Services Through Integration
Mobility makes it possible to connect valuable customer data directly into other critical systems that help you to run your business. Through integration, this information can be fed directly into your CRM, ERP, accounting system, or other application to keep the field and the back office in sync at all times.
Such a level of data integrity positions your company to operate more efficiently and realize benefits such as shorter invoicing times resulting in lower days of sales outstanding, thereby reducing the need for greater working capital. This sets the stage for increased profitability through the streamlined flow of data from the field through mobile devices directly to the integrated systems.
Improved Visibility for Management
Customer service is about more than just the person in the field. Every step in the service chain, from the initial call to the final customer invoice, plays a role in how your customer perceives your business. You’ve seen how mobility can better track service your team provides in the field, but it can also improve your ability to manage and deliver future service.
Field service management through mobile devices facilitates an improved ability to determine key operational information such as the average time it takes for engineers to complete each type of call. In addition, it delivers insight to identify opportunities to optimize scheduling and ensure customers are being invoiced when jobs are complete.
Every organization that provides service in the field – regardless of industry, customer base, or team size – can see benefits and improvements by adopting field service automation through mobility. It provides the flexibility field engineers need to properly service customers, putting job-related data right in their hands. In addition, real-time visibility into field operations enables business leaders to better plan day-to-day operations. These help to create a system that is more responsive to customer needs and therefore, provides a higher level of customer service.
Benefits of Mobile Field Service by FieldAware
FieldAware is designed as a highly configurable and extensible to accommodate unique business and workflow requirements in a variety of industries and types of field work. Our made-for-mobile solutions are built on the newest technologies. We built our innovative field service management solution from the ground up to solve the most challenging issues in managing field service operations.
Built in the cloud and customizable to your workflows, we put reliability and flexibility at the heart of our field service solutions.
Our solutions have been designed from the ground up for service execution. Our mobile app has a refined user interface that provides mobile workers with consistent access to targeted service workflows regardless of internet connectivity. Our flexible and configurable work order process accommodates a variety of use cases and comes complete with scheduling, crew assignments, checklists, and work order debrief so you can focus on running your business, not running your systems.
For the best results in mobile field service, you need a proven all-in-one solution. FieldAware helps field service companies simplify their field service reporting to get data that will create better decision making, stronger organization, and happier customers. We are available wherever you are in the world to help.