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What To Look for in a Field Service Management Solution — and Why

You’re considering an upgrade to a connected field service management solution. But what, exactly, will that look like? And what can it do for you?

Construction worker onsite using field service management tools

You’re considering an upgrade from a paper-based system or a home-grown system featuring a collection of disjointed apps to a connected field service management solution. But what, exactly, will that solution look like? 

It shouldn’t be just another version of what you’re already doing on another system. This transformation is an opportunity to reduce inefficiencies from the existing process and connect your entire operation, as well as boost both mobile worker and customer safety. 

Your field service management must-haves

While there are many capabilities and add-ons available, you don’t have to implement them all at once. Simplify the transition to a new field service management system by identifying the key features you’ll need right off the bat, and those you may want to consider later. 

Align the process from end to end

Introducing a single-console system provides a complete, connected view of the field for contact center agents and dispatchers who assign, track, and cancel assignments in real time. Dispatchers see schedules, track locations, assign tasks based on skill set (algorithms suggest qualified workers), and eliminate overscheduling or job crossover. To boost efficiency further, give dispatchers the visibility to track parts and inventory, ensuring every assigned mobile worker has what they need to complete the job. 

Manage without paper

Digital work order management is crucial to raising the job completion rate. When mobile workers are dispatched with digital work orders, they are primed with the information they need on the customer, safety procedures, and details about the site. It’s a vital way to instantly track all updates about the assigned job so everyone involved can see it in real time. Digital work orders also mean no more lost or miscategorized forms, which is often a reason for delays in invoicing. 

Activate mobility in the field

Mobile workers are the face of your company, and not only in the literal sense: 89% of service decision makers say the experience a customer has with a mobile worker is a reflection of their brand. To provide the best service, implement mobile capabilities to empower mobile workers with the information they need to deliver the best customer experiences.

A connected mobile worker gets a complete view of the customer before arriving at the appointment. They have access to customer data, task details, safety guidelines, and their schedule via a dedicated field service app on their smartphone or tablet. They log updates before, during, and after the appointment, and have access to inventory details and asset management insights. While on-site in remote areas, mobile workers get this same information with offline capabilities by downloading the day’s materials before they start the day. Updates sync up once mobile workers are back in range.

Add visibility with reporting and workforce analytics

A connected field service management solution instantly adds value with reporting and analytics that allow complete visibility into operational performance across the field service organization – from how jobs are scheduled to the completion of work in the field.

Dispatchers see assigned tasks completed and tasks pending at a glance. Business users can view metrics like hours logged, hours billable, and the work order completion rate. Once it’s quantified, you can put the numbers to work to improve efficiencies, like reducing billed overtime hours.

Make your field service tools intuitive to use

When introducing a field service management system, it’s important to manage the change and allow time for employees to adjust. Companies must guide employees who may be accustomed to manual spreadsheets and whiteboards, toward a digital process. 

Choose a solution that’s user-centric and intuitive to eliminate lengthy training and onboarding. Look for  modern tools expected by digital natives that make it easier to get more work done, such as a real-time map overview of worker locations and instant job status updates. 

Another consideration with long-term mobile workers: the institutional knowledge they draw on may be on paper, or it may not be written down at all. Make a plan to transfer knowledge to digital, such as creating knowledge base articles and video tutorials in a learning management system for new employees.

Additional field service management capabilities to consider

Depending on your business’s specific needs and preferences, consider adding these features in the first phase of adoption, or keep them in mind for later.

Seamless self-service for customers

Add convenience for tech-savvy customers with online appointment booking, either with your customer-facing app, if you have one, or through a customer portal on your website. Consider issuing ongoing automated notifications like preventative maintenance reminders through your app, email, or SMS.

Provide visual remote customer assistance

Deliver service or support from anywhere without physical contact or high bandwidth connections with visual remote assistance. Agents and field service technicians can solve a customer’s problem through virtual, real-time, guided interactions. Experts can also help on-site technicians resolve issues. With access to knowledge and expertise in real time, visual remote assistance streamlines service delivery and boosts worker and customer safety.

Keep tabs on the whole fleet

A fleet management system can track all vehicles, plus traffic and weather, increasing completed jobs and  lowering fuel costs. It also gives valuable insight into hours worked and miles driven, so dispatchers can see outliers and top performers. Rely on a fleet management system for automated reminders on vehicles maintenance for longer vehicle lifespans and safer employees.

Ensure all aspects of projects are on track

Project management services can be added to your workforce solution to ensure that equipment is in the right place, and that projects come in on time and on budget, from start to finish to support the most complex operations.

Create custom training materials

Training plays a big role in the implementation and success of a new system. Work with a technology partner that can help you build a customized onboarding and training program of in-person and virtual classes, digital learning resources, and more.

Offer continuous support in the field

Elevate first-visit resolution rates by helping mobile workers to self-serve when they are unable to resolve an issue on their own. Build in compliance with automated flows to walk mobile workers through jobs, and create a digital knowledge base with articles and video tutorials. If mobile workers still can’t resolve an issue, they can connect with the contact center or a remote agent by phone, chat, or visual remote assistance.

Considerations for the future of field service management

As you continue to evolve your company’s field service operation, consider connecting sales capabilities and training your mobile workers to identify opportunities in the field. You may be able to make sales or easily begin work on another product while at the same site. You can also anticipate easier customer appointment updates, like the ability to cancel and reschedule via self-service, before the service vehicle is on its way, freeing up that mobile worker for another job.

Companies are learning to perfect the customer experience in field service delivery. As customer expectations continue to evolve for connected field service, you should choose a field service management platform that can scale as you need it, and one that is flexible enough to serve as your needs change.

Gary Brandeleer is a product senior director currently working on Web3 initiatives at Salesforce. Formerly, he worked on Salesforce Field Service, one of the fastest-growing Salesforce products, and held various positions at Johnson Controls focusing on strategic initiatives.

More by Gary

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