Transforming your service solution business needs clever and practical technology

15 October 2019 | 2556 Shares

Since the early part of this century — some commentators peg the date the first iPhone was released — there has been a considerable rise in the levels of technical “fluency” across the country. Even the most unlikely people now seem to be fully conversant with using a smartphone to order goods and services online, socialize, chat with friends, pay bills, and generally organize most aspects of their lives.

In technology circles, that’s referred to as the “consumerization” of technology, and it extends to every area of life, even those where we might not expect to find technology at all. For businesses, it’s raised the bar in terms of customer service to such an extent that we now talk about the customer experience, rather than everyday old customer satisfaction.

Field service management technology in 2019

For companies with an element of field service activity in their offerings, creating a perfect customer experience is a complicated business, because it involves numerous activities and variables.

Thankfully, there are vendors out there offering solutions that will help businesses work more efficiently and quickly, providing the magic dust to sprinkle over customer experience metrics. Those improvements come from better communications with customers, giving a better service, and being more responsive — mirroring the type of always-on, connected services that customers use every day from the huge companies that are now household names: Lyft, Uber, Netflix, Amazon and the rest.

There are a few advantages in these technology platforms for field service companies themselves, as well as their customers. The same solutions also offer features like prospect management, customer relationship management (CRM), financial book-keeping and reconciliation, route-planning, marketing orchestration, stock control, and much, much more. The effects on businesses can result in massive growth, hugely lowered costs, and happier, more efficient and engaged staff.

The advantages of FSM software

It’s still entirely possible to run field service functions using technicians equipped with a clipboard and paper. But given that there will inevitably be competitors out there on the road operating more efficiently, now might be the time to start looking at field service management software and hardware. Choosing the platform which will support you, and the way your business runs is a critical first step. There’s competition out there, too, among FSM technology vendors, so there are plenty of possibilities from which to choose.

Here at TechHQ, however, we’re concentrating on three vendors whose offerings, we feel, offer significant advantages over the mainstream platforms out there designed to run businesses.

The three featured below are specialists, with software and associated hardware designed uniquely for the sector. We suggest using a specialist, rather than a broader-use ERP (enterprise resource planner) as with the latter, there’s usually a degree of the business having to adapt its practices to the software, rather than vice versa.

The key thing here is to pick a platform that is built the way your business is. Some solutions are modular (so you can start small and adopt more facilities as you expand), while some provide everything a specialist business needs, from the outset. And if you already have some software or systems you use, choosing a new vendor whose solutions can “talk” to your previous tech investments is also a must. Features that you may require (and may not even have thought of) in this applicable platform might include:

– Equipping field technicians with handhelds that contain all the information they need for every job.

– Having those handhelds synchronize in real-time with a central point (head office, typically), but also work correctly when in areas where there’s no signal.

– Databases of customers and prospects, with full customer histories against each entry. These have multiple uses, including:

– sending reminders of service due dates;

– marketing special offers or seasonal goodies to customers;

– recording special rates for individual clients, or special requirements, and;

– co-coordinating marketing to new leads or prospects and having converted prospects details’ ‘flow’ into the primary system.

– Letting customers book appointments directly into technicians’ schedules

– Intelligent route planning to make sure truck rolls are as short and efficient as possible.

– Spreading information among the workforce, like new operating procedures, updated equipment manuals.

– Capturing timesheets, booking vacations, recording time off sick, and so on.

– Keeping live stock levels for parts and equipment, swift and easy ordering of non-standard parts.

– Automated stock replenishment.

– Taking payments in the field, online, by invoice, or via established payment plans.

– Full financial tracking, from quote to settlement.

– Capturing and processing data for insightful business intelligence.

Each of the following three vendors has its individual takes on the type of technologies that can change the way you do business, for the better. We wish you well in your searches for the platform that will make the difference.

WORKWAVE

WorkWave offers scalable SaaS solutions capable of supporting businesses as they grow from small, one or two-technician organizations to country-wide service enterprise businesses. There is full support across the full service business lifecycle, from marketing, customer relationship management, job quote booking and reconciliation, ​​Workwave’s recently introduced a​nd​ fully-PCI compliant payment​s solution.

Its solutions are suitable for many industry sectors — HVAC, lawn and landscape, pest control, and logistics functions like last-mile delivery companies. Each truck route can be planned, scheduled (and timesheet-ed by crew members), with tracking of vehicles in real-time.

Customers can get “we’re on our way”-type messages, and then even sign off on work, pay and book the next visit online all from a mobile app.

WorkWave is built to operate in the cloud and was explicitly created by service technician specialists for the particular requirements of the industry—a true software built for the needs of field service businesses by the experts in field service. You can read more on the pages of TechHQ all about WorkWave’s unique platform and options ​right here​.

JOBBER

Designed to work across a number of specific areas of those companies that (typically) visit their clients’ homes, like landscaping or cleaning, Jobber provides a cheap and highly effective way to automate and digitize. Its pricing model is nicely scaled, with features unlocking at the two higher scales, designed to be used to drive efficiencies as businesses scale.

But even the “one-man-band” tier offers a significant number of features that will revolutionize even a side gig: client portal, reporting features, work schedules, a client CRM, and much more. There’s the ubiquitous mobile app too, so operatives in the field can get updates, and feedback information into the central database.

Invoicing and payment features get joined by QuickBooks Online integration at the middle tier, plus further client portal facilities that allow live calendars, against which clients can book appointments. Even at this relatively modest price point, there are pro-level features like GPS tracking of work crews, route planning, and SMS notifications of crews’ progress.

For the business just starting out and growing to several dozen on-the-road technicians or workers, Jobber is the perfect way to digitize. Read more about Jobber here.

SIMPRO

UK-based simPRO is a cloud-based offering that’s designed from the bottom up to operate across multiple companies, making it perfect for holding companies running different service sectors, or franchise operators.

Out of the box, the feature list is impressive, featuring extensive integrations with common accounts packages, equipment, materials and stock level control and monitoring, plus over 60 baked-in reports, ready for period end or management meetings.

For larger companies, or those needing a specific fine-tuning to the apps, the company offers a Corporate plan, which comes with an assigned support team helping their customer with any bespoke requirements. That means the cloud-based solution can be fine-tuned to a specific business model — useful for scaling businesses.

There are several bolt-ons also available, like real-time GPRS tracking of vehicle fleets, plus a bespoke eForms facility, which is perfect for surveying teams that need to collate specific information: site surveys for fire damage, utility facilities, flood damage repair companies, specialist insurance businesses, and the like.

You can read more about simPRO by clicking here

*Some of the companies featured are commercial partners of TechHQ