Driving Productivity with Field Service Software

Introduction

There is one simple truth about running any business; it’s not always easy. Field service companies do not conduct business in a vacuum and are truly impacted by the environments they operate in. Whether it be economic, social, or geographic influences, you are met with the tall task of managing external pressures along with your own challenges of running a successful service business. Let’s be frank, many of these things are outside your control. This constant fluctuation makes it increasingly important to have a firm pulse on your business and maximize internal operations as best as possible.

It is estimated
that over

60 percent

of companies today prioritize their goals around increasing their revenue.

A common focal point is to drive monetary gains through geographical expansion, attraction/retention of customers, or by incorporating a new service offering into their portfolio. 1

Yet, only

33 percent

of companies have prioritized making operational improvements. 1

In reality, operational improvement is the lynchpin to increasing and sustaining profitability. Growth hinges not only on your ability to sell a service, but how effective your business is at delivering that service.

With such little emphasis on internal improvement, it is no surprise that

73 percent

of field service companies struggle to achieve profitable revenue growth. 2

Field service management software provides businesses with a missing link to help foster operational improvement. It empowers both back offices and mobile workforces to overcome challenges that are negatively impacting their productivity - and getting in the way of increasing your service revenue. Although field service software is not the only driving force in optimizing operations, it is an important lever that can help tip the scales to achieve increased profitability.

The Basics

Field services can be complex. A company’s ability to succeed extends far beyond their aptitude to physically provide a service to a customer. While the level of service a crew or technician is providing in the field will play a pivotal role in determining the overall perception of a business – it is not the only defining factor. Rather, field services are comprised of a series of interconnected functions. Each function is a moment, a touch point, and a contributing factor which plays into the overall service experience. Encapsulated in that experience are a number of internal resources and departments, which operate independently, but collectively contribute to how a business services its customers.

Field service software focuses on maximizing these internal resources. By systematically reducing friction between back office, field, and customer facing operations, field service software is reducing operational inefficiencies and breeding a more simplified way of working. Ultimately, helping companies deliver more efficient and profitable service experiences.

Operational inefficiencies cost companies between 20%-30% of their revenues each year...

Where are the productivity gaps?

68 percent

can’t manage workload & time constraints

52%

are too reliant on manual processes

43 percent

struggle w/ heavy administration tasks

38 percent

don’t have adequate management tools to help complete a job

29 percent

waste time accessing customer, account, & service info

21 percent

suffer from isolation & lack of visibility

Source: Business Efficiency for Dummies |Source: Cornerstone Productivity Killers 2014 | Source: SalesForce Best Practices for Field Service 2016

Modernizing the Back Office

Field service management starts in the back office. The customer journey begins when a conscious effort is made to gather pricing or request a service. For the customer, this experience will largely contribute to the overall perception of your business. For your company, this is the first operational benchmark that must be streamlined. It is a multifaceted approach:

  1. how your company handles inbound inquiries and stores customer information/service records, and
  2. how effectively your company can manage, utilize, and act on this data to address customer needs and book appointments.
frustrated man

Many field services companies still struggle with proper customer management, dealing with impractical or outdated systems. It’s estimated that over half of field service businesses are still reliant on manual methods of working. 3 While over 40% use email or spreadsheets as their primary system to track and store customer information. 4

These archaic ways of working, cause unnecessary steps for your back office, lengthening the time it takes to adequately assist customers, and promote human error. Having a unified field service system that stores records in an organized, clean, and retrievable format works wonders for back office operations and reduces the drain on productivity. Not only can your workforce gain complete insights into a customer and their historical information, but they will also have a quick, actionable way to assign services and build work orders.

Working in Motion

Service industries are anything but static.

It's the nature of the beast.

Jobs, customers, locations, and service offerings are constantly changing – even on a moment’s notice. A strong emphasis is always put on planning. If we can plan better, we can service better. Planning is essential and can help you avoid being caught flat footed. However, empowering your workforce with tools that exclusively help your business plan for the workday will not insulate you from the ever changing environment you operate in. It’s not uncommon to see appointments appear or disappear out of thin air, weather patterns forcibly change working schedules, or unforeseen challenges arise on job sites (turning a routine 30-minute service into an all-day event). A real barometer for success is a business’s ability to absorb these challenges and move forward. The ability to adapt, respond, and make changes on the fly can separate you from the pack – helping ensure your business stays profitable even when unexpected challenges surface. And while field service software does not offer a failproof solution to eliminate the impromptu challenges you may encounter, it does provide the framework to operate more nimbly.

devices

Field service software helps maximize workforce capacities

providing the ability to structure your crew’s workday based upon their competencies, availability, or proximity to the customer. This impacts everyone from the dispatcher who is deploying your workers, to the manager who oversees this workforce, and even the technician/field member going to the job site. Field service software provides a platform to intelligently dispatch your workforce in the most efficient manner possible, then, make scheduling changes on-the-fly. Strategically map daily workloads to reduce down time, save fuel, and minimize travel – then reroute staff at a moment’s notice to avoid traffic or capitalize on an impromptu service. This level of control instills a confidence throughout an organization, empowering your workforce to take more informed actions and provide more concrete arrival time frames as the day unfolds. Empowering your staff to have more control over their workday also creates a competitive advantage over many other providers in your market.

Maximizing Field Operations

The most effective back offices help companies place the right technicians, with the right skills, at the right job site, in a timely manner. It’s a huge undertaking and, often times, a thankless job. And it’s a pivotal building block in the service delivery process. Put plainly, back office operations should set the stage for your field crew to be the hero. From call to call, your crew is delivering services that will leave a lasting impression on the quality of your work; and (moreover) your company’s brand. How do you exceed customer expectations? Equipping field staff with the proper mobile tools is a strong start.

frustrated man

It is estimated that by 2020 over 70% of field service companies will have deployed mobile applications to help their staff better succeed in the field. 4

Mobile applications serve to help field crews be more productive in the field. They can help reduce their time to service and decrease their dependency on the back office. In fact, service companies who aren’t properly leveraging mobile technologies to increase field productivity are likely impeding on their team’s ability to achieve more first-time fix rates. And there is a direct correlation between first-time fix rates and field service success. Repeat visits require additional costs to dispatch your workforce to the site and interfere with your ability to service new customers. It can also damage customer satisfaction levels. The numbers speak for themselves.

frustrated man

On average, companies with an 80% first time fix rate experience much higher customer satisfaction and customer retention ratings than those below a 50% first time fix rate. 6

Mobile teams need access to customer information, working protocols, and service histories while on the go - even when operating in remote areas. Not only do these applications ensure workers always have the most up to date information, they also provide rich feature functionality to enhance service delivery capabilities while on-site. Field service companies have employed the use of mobile applications to directly capture information in the field, tighten cashflow processes (through accepting payments), reduce double data entry, and increase the visibility of their workforce - bridging the gap between office and field operations. Workforces are more informed than ever, having the luxury of getting real-time job updates without interrupting teams who are at customer locations. This level of connectivity alleviates many constraints for technicians, improving how they can communicate with the back office – making it possible to relay updates and track job statuses without ever picking up the phone.

Field service companies without mobile applications are experiencing:

devices

Adobe Driving Competitive Advantages With Enterprise Mobile Apps, 2016

Delighting the Customer

For many field service companies, profitability is strictly measured by assessing how much money they are making today on each service they deliver. It’s a logical blueprint to evaluate the current health of your business - but it does not provide a complete view into your long-term trajectory. Short-term profitability can quickly fade if you are delivering inadequate services or a subpar customer experience. Your business should measure success on your ability to repeatedly and consistently meet or exceed your customers’ expectations. Said differently, your ability to make money 6 days, 6 months, or 6 years down the road. One of the best indicators for sustained success is your reputation in the marketplace.

frustrated man

Today, it's estimated that over 85% of customers use online reviews and customer testimonials to drive their buying decision. 7

So, what are your customers saying about you?

It’s not rocket science. Great service makes customers happy. And happy customers become company advocates. Although field service software cannot ensure that you are always delivering 5-star service, it can help eliminate the guesswork when measuring success. Field service software can provide an avenue for you to proactively gather unbiased customer feedback on the performance of your mobile team, crew, and field technicians. Then, leverage this feedback into actionable data to assess what services are exceeding customer expectations and which service offerings are falling short. Are there specific employees that are overachieving? Or worse, which ones are falling short? Do you have a happy, loyal customer who might be willing to provide you with a testimonial or referral? Or is your business at-risk due to a poor customer experience? This 360-degree view allows you to not only assess the here and now, but spot meaningful trends and correct operational concerns that may damage your image, and by virtue, your future profits.

Seeing Positive Returns

The benefits of a employing a proper field service management system, are multifaceted. With more control of business processes, companies can remove pain points that detract from service delivery, while creating a more informed and productive workforce. Companies who utilize field service software are not only seeing operational improvements, but bottom-line growth. WorkWave Service, a best of breed solution in the field service landscape, has helped companies, large and small, double their workforce productivity and increase sales revenues by over 20%. For more information on WorkWave Service and how it could impact your business, please contact us here.

  • 1Source: Manta Business Survey 2016
  • 2Source: TSIA 2017 State of Field Service
  • 3Source: 2016 Best Practices for Connected Field Service
  • 42016 Salesforce Connected Service Study
  • 5Gartner, Magic Quadrant of Field Service Management
  • 6Aberdeen Group. Fixing First-Time Fix: Repairing Field Service Efficiency to Enhance Customer Returns. March 2013.
  • 7BrightLocal Online Reviews 2017 Survey Findings

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