In a standard workplace, managers oversee crews of workers, keeping them on track, managing shifts, and ensuring that the cogs and gears of the work process are moving properly. As problems arise, those managers are able to step in and provide solutions to keep everything running smoothly.
However, this task becomes a bit more complicated when a significant portion of the workforce works in the field. Cable and Internet providers dispatch technicians to install the necessary hardware at customers’ homes. Home repair and maintenance companies send out multiple teams each day. From pizza delivery, to electricity and gas providers, there are entire industries that face the problem of how to effectively manage their workers out in the field.
A field service management system essentially does exactly what you might assume; it provides a way for companies to manage resources in the field, including workers, vehicles, tools, supplies, and more. In order to keep field teams operating smoothly, managers keep track of as many factors as possible, balancing cost, schedule, safety, and productivity while still keeping the customer’s expectations in mind.
In the past, managers needed to keep track of this information manually, using spreadsheets, bulletin boards, and other complicated methods as their tracking systems. More recently, software developers have released software solutions to automate much of this process, freeing managers up to focus on other aspects of their jobs, while at the same time granting them access to more detailed information. These software tools continue to evolve as new technologies are released.
When managing a growing fleet of field workers and technicians, efficiency becomes key. Fifteen or twenty minutes may not seem like much time, but over the course of weeks or years — particularly when dealing with several workers — that time can add up to significant costs. With a handy software solution to manage these workers, managers are able to track where each field worker is and create optimal routes and schedules. This minimizes delays and cuts down on wasted time, which not only saves time and money for the company, it makes it simpler for technicians to arrive at the work site in a timely manner, which improves the customer experience.
The joke about technicians arriving any time within a six-hour window, or even longer, has become commonplace, and many customers are particularly interested in tracking capabilities so that they can know exactly when their technician will arrive. One recent study from CSG showed 89% of customers preferring an “Uber-like” service to track technicians and provide continually updated arrival times, and 87% even said they would be willing to pay more for the convenience. The best field service management solutions brings this capability, and others, to the hands of field service industries and their customers.
Not all solutions offer the same benefits, and with the variety of options on the market today, it can be difficult to select the right solution for your company. In a 2013 study, service and work order management were the top features provided by field service software solutions, as well as the most used by customers, but that’s just a portion of what makes a management solution work. As you search for the best field service management systems for your company, there are several factors to keep in mind:
An increasing number of businesses are transitioning their technicians from keeping pen-and-paper records of their work to using mobile devices, so much that some sources predict that by 2018, 70 percent of mobile workers will use a tablet or similar device for their work. Not only does this look better to the customer, showing that the companies they have selected aren’t held back by archaic work methods, but it also provides field technicians with a suite of convenient tools they can access as they work, without needing to step away to contact the office directly.
Whether it is to save money on purchasing devices or to provide a convenient option to workers who prefer their own device, 60 percent of field service organizations allow employees to use their personal devices for work. With so many devices accessing the same information, it’s important to keep each version straight. Cloud-based field service management software is a solution that allows field techs to simplify the matter, because as soon as documents are updated, they are synced to the cloud and available anywhere, to every authorized user.
And, because the cloud servers are housed off-site, this does not require businesses to install any additional, expensive hardware. Meanwhile, the providers of the solution employ advanced security methods to keep that data secure and backed up.
It’s one thing to keep track of a few technicians out on service calls; it’s something else entirely to manage an entire fleet of trucks, drivers, technicians, and other mobile workers. Enterprises that employ an army of field workers have to be able to keep all of that information well organized, because the scale of your workforce can multiply the consequences of small errors exponentially. A robust system needs to be able to handle an array of incoming and outgoing commands without crashing the system.
It’s also vital that businesses be able to integrate the management system into existing systems and processes with minimal impact. Even small delays can lead to big losses for an enterprise company, so if enterprise managers can avoid these snags, the savings will be substantial.
For all intents and purposes, your field agents are your brand — at least as far as your customers are concerned. How they represent themselves, the quality of the work they do, their ability to keep predetermined schedules, etc., are all representations of your organizations, and will help determine whether or not customers will want to continue doing business with you.
By investing in field service management, you’ll be giving your agents the support they need to be able to represent your company well, without needing to be accompanied by a manager. By implementing a quality field service management software solution, businesses can increase communication across the board, improving efficiency and saving time and money in the process.
With field service management, your field agents can take the office with them.
The best way to see how Salesforce is revolutionizing customer service is with a guided tour of Service Cloud. With the guided tour, we can show you how Service Cloud shines in several common use cases and scenarios.
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