- Field Service Management
- Customer Satisfaction
10 good reasons to use field service management software
Because you run a service company, you’ve realized that using paper to manage the activities of field service technicians is no longer enough to ensure you can provide increasingly demanding customers with responsive, efficient and effective service. In addition, as a business manager, you spend a lot of time thinking about your company’s strategy. How can you reduce costs and increase turnover? How can you retain existing customers and differentiate from the competition? And how can you keep up with the digital transformation underway in your industry? At first glance, all of these issues are critical enough to cost you at least a few nights’ sleep… But, there is a way to optimize both technicians’ activities in the field and your company’s profitability. It’s called field service management software, and it can help you solve a lot of your problems. Here are 10 good reasons to start using field service management software.
1 – Better customer satisfaction
Field service management software is designed to optimize the entire lifecycle of service activities, from the time the customer makes the request through to the final invoice. When the software includes automated planning capabilities, it can significantly reduce customer wait times by assigning service tasks to technicians who are available and have the right skill set for the job and by forecasting spare parts requirements. With this type of solution, you can put your technicians in the best possible position to successfully resolve the issue on the first visit to improve your first-time-fix rate. And make your customers happy. According to a study published by the American firm, Aberdeen, customer satisfaction increases by more than 20% when a problem is solved on the technician’s first visit. Online scheduling software for the service industry is an indispensable tool to achieve this goal.
2 – Higher turnover
There’s an intangible rule of business that says it’s easier and cheaper to keep existing customers than to win new ones. Improving customer satisfaction levels immediately strengthens customer loyalty. In addition, satisfied customers are more likely to spread the word, and good word of mouth leads to new customers. It’s a virtuous circle. With field service management software, you can centralize all of your customer data and ensure that it’s always available to technicians. When technicians have better understanding of customers and their equipment they can respond more effectively and efficiently to each customer issue. Technicians can even help to increase business by offering customers additional services. If the customer expresses interest in a particular service, the technician can immediately send the information back to the sales team so they can quickly make a proposal to the customer.
3 – Higher efficiency, lower costs
As we mentioned, field service management software lets you set up automated scheduling and provide each customer with the best technician for the job. How does it work? Well, let’s use Praxedo’s SmartScheduler software as an example. This software uses artificial intelligence to assign the right job to the right technician at the right time. To do this, it considers:
- Technician location
- Technician skills
- The parts and tools with the technician
- Estimated travel time
In a service-focused world, making optimal use of human resources is a strategic advantage. And field service management software is an indispensable tool to ensure service is provided with maximum efficiency and lower costs.
4 – Helpful new technologies
We’ve been hearing for a few years now that businesses are undergoing digital transformation. At some point, it becomes imperative that every company, including those in the service industry, join this digital revolution or risk endangering their future. In fact, continuing to work on paper when the rest of the industry is moving to digital solutions is, in the medium term, the best way to go out of business. By deploying field service management software, service companies give themselves the means to compete and to deal with customers who are demanding increasingly high quality of service. Field service management software also provides access to the technologies that are revolutionizing the way business is done:
Artificial intelligence for scheduling
Augmented reality for on-site problem solving
The Internet of Things and predictive analysis to anticipate breakdowns
Virtual reality to train technicians
In the field service industry, these technologies are no longer science fiction. The future has arrived.
5 – Happier technicians
Today, there’s a generational change happening in the field service industry. More and more young people are coming into the industry, and veterans are becoming increasingly rare. The way the job is viewed and the tools that are used are also changing. In a tight job market, it’s increasingly difficult to recruit technicians with the right skills and keep them. More and more technicians are “digital natives” who are used to using smartphones and mobile applications. They expect to do the same at work. This generation will not be content to work with pounds of paper, adhere to rigid schedules, or lose time due to poorly planned travel routes. In today’s service companies, technicians are the first ones to push management to deploy field service management software because it:
- Makes their lives considerably easier
- Reduces their margin of error
- Reduces administrative processing requirements
- Increases efficiency
- Allows them to focus on core business activities and value-added tasks
6 – Better cash flow
With field service management software, you can use pre-filled and rules-based forms to gather more reliable data from the field. For example, forms can be developed so that technicians cannot complete field 3 if field 2 is not completed. Or, the report cannot be validated if the technician did not include a photo of the completed job. The ability to collect more reliable field data and to automatically send the electronic forms directly to your alarm billing software system with a single click considerably accelerates the billing process. Companies that previously required between 3 and 5 weeks to invoice customers can now send invoices within a half day, or even an hour, of service completion. Faster invoicing means faster payments. Ultimately, that’s good for cash flow. And it’s all possible with the move to field service management software.
7 – Detailed activity monitoring
Field service management software provides dashboards that allow you to monitor the progress of key performance indicators. With a global, detailed view of technicians’ activities, you can make the best decisions at the right times. And you’re in a better position to meet contractual commitments for guaranteed service times, repair times and first-time fix rates.
8 – Increased technician safety
Field technicians are often required to work in complicated, and even dangerous, environments that require special precautions. With field service management software that includes a mobile app, technicians can review a checklist of safety rules, equipment requirements and security measures before they start a job so they can succeed in their tasks without taking undue risks.
9 – Stronger data security
In addition to technicians’ physical security during service calls, data security is also extremely important in today’s world. Service companies and their technicians often have sensitive customer information. Consider the case of companies that specialize in installing electronic security systems in banks or in nuclear power plants. It’s very important that customer data and floor plans showing system locations do not fall into the wrong hands. With field service management software, you can use secure servers and other means to protect electronic data. You can’t do this with paper, and it puts both the service company and its customers at risk. In some industries, field service providers must meet security standards that prohibit the use of paper. To win in these markets, it’s crucial to follow digital processes and be able to offer certified levels of security.
10 – Superior quality of service
Finally, deploying field service management software allows service companies to significantly improve the quality of service it offers its customers. In an increasingly competitive economic environment, this is an important capability. Teams ranging from schedulers to field technicians can gather and share deeper insight into each customer. The field service management software provides the history of every service call completed at customer sites so you can see statistical trends, metrics and other data that helps you understand what factors contribute to the success or failure of a particular type of service. Ultimately, you can provide better customer service.
Aside from economic advantages, the cloud unites the entire chain of information, from work order requests to billing. At the same time, cloud paves the way for artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The word is out about the benefits of cloud. Unlike with an on-premises software-licensing model, the company isn’t responsible for infrastructure management, server security, data back ups, or software deployment and maintenance. Instead, the software vendor, working in software-as-a-service (SaaS) mode, provides all this based on a monthly or yearly subscription.
Another up side is that cloud subscribers get the latest version of the application on all their fixed or mobile devices (e.g., laptop, tablet, and smartphones). That’s because, the cloud-based SaaS approach is all about the user instead of their workstation.
In terms of the financial situation, the cloud-based SaaS approach shifts costs from capital expenses (CapEx) to operating expenses (OpEx). This is appealing to finance departments that typically prefer to avoid investing in capital assets, such as servers, routers, and switches that depreciate.
Enhanced data protection
The last barrier to cloud adoption—security—is also crumbling. Many companies have realized that digital specialists are better at protected data. These data protection specialists have made significant investments in equipment and personnel that would be too costly for most companies. Also, the new European regulation on the protection of personal data (RGPD) further reinforces the SaaS provider’s data security obligations.
For example, the Praxedo field service management solution is hosted on dedicated servers provided by OVH. The first European cloud provider not only complies with the RGPD, but also meets the requirements of recognized security standards, including PCI-DSS and ISO/IEC 27001, SOC 1 Type II and SOC 2.
The cloud allows information to flow
Beyond the technical and economic gains, cloud solutions also offer organizational advantages. By centralizing data, a SaaS platform allows for streamlined information flow among the customer, operations center, and field personnel.
With all types of users accessing the same dataset, field service coordination is less prone to error. Using their mobile device, the technician has an up-to-date schedule and is notified when changes occur. In the same way, the customer is kept informed of the status of the job request.
Work order digitalization also improves customer satisfaction by increasing the all-important “First Time Fix Rate”. The field technician has all the relevant information—work order history, technical documentation—to make a diagnosis. If that’s not enough, the technician can consult with service center experts using chat, phone or videoconferencing. Finally, we can say goodbye to the days of paper-based records!
Reduced billing time
With digital records management of all work order records and reports, all information can be centralized. This zero paper approach eliminates double entry errors while ensuring traceability throughout the work order life cycle, from the request for assistance to completion. Also, the billing period can be reduced considerably. Once the job is closed, the information is automatically entered into the accounting system, which generates the invoice and sends it to the customer.
Artificial intelligence: Part of the digital picture
The cloud is a prerequisite for accessing new innovative services provided by artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). AI is so powerful it is expected to take work order management to a whole new level. In fact, Gartner, in its 2017 Magic Quadrant Field Service Management, predicts “by 2020, 10% of emergency field service work will be both triaged and scheduled by artificial intelligence.
Did you know that some planners are already using AI? In just seconds, the Praxedo SmartScheduler calculates the optimal route given the business constraints, traffic conditions, and emergencies. It does this using the Praxedo proprietary meta-heuristic algorithm, a form of AI.
Chatbots available 24/7
Chatbots can also improve the customer experience by complementing the usual communications channels, such as call centers, email, SMS, and live chat. Available 24/7, these agents can provide front line support by answering FAQs. Failing that, chatbots can triage requests and direct users to qualified support staff, or even schedule a work order.
In the not too distant future, this type of virtual assistant will also support field technicians. Appointment reminders, work order documentation, and assistance with diagnosing problems will be available on their mobile device. Using natural language, technicians will query powerful knowledge bases in the same way as they currently consult with experts at the service center via videoconference.
IoT to prevent breakdowns
IoT is also related to AI and cloud. The performance and health status of equipment fitted with sensors—temperature, humidity, vibration or pressure sensors—can be monitored in real time. This allows operators to extend equipment service life by improving operating conditions and preventing breakdowns.
Perform predictive maintenance
IoT also paves the way for predictive maintenance. Analysis of equipment-related data can identify and anticipate abnormal wear that is likely to cause a breakdown. This way, spare parts are only replaced when needed rather than for precautionary reasons. That’s how predictive maintenance optimizes spare parts management and reduces machine downtime.
In this way, IoT makes it possible to service equipment “just in time”. The maintenance provider triggers a work order only when needed, not too soon, not too late. This after-sales service dream will soon be a reality thanks to powerful AI, IoT and cloud technologies.
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