Whether installing, replacing, or simply completing maintenance on equipment, field service personnel rely heavily on a range of tools to complete each job. But with 45% of field technicians reporting current tools are not fast enough, and 38% saying they can’t access all the information they need, it’s a clear indication that technicians are somewhat shackled when carrying out their tasks in the field.
The global field service management market is expected to reach $5.9 billion by 2024 and with research showing that inefficiencies can cost around 20% to 30% of company revenue each year, companies seeking a piece of the pie need to take effective measures to render their operations more efficient.
A decade or so ago, it was virtually impossible to manage a field service business remotely. But in the era of smartphones and tablets, this is now a reality. Leveraging field service management (FSM) systems enable real-time monitoring of field personnel’s movements which facilitates the timely dispatch of the nearest technician to resolve an issue and empowers them with the information needed to solve the customer’s problem on the first visit.
Research further shows that 75% of service businesses using FSM tools have improved employee productivity, while the remaining 25% saw an increase in customer satisfaction rates. In this post, we will discuss the most common pain points of field service businesses and how FSM tools can empower service organizations to make informed business decisions, gain a firmer grip on field operations and deliver prompt solutions to increasingly demanding customers.
Scheduling conflicts arise when two events are scheduled in the same slot for one field representative. Frequent scheduling conflicts can put stress not only on customer satisfaction levels but also potentially threaten your business’s ability to remain competitive amid fierce competition.
There are 3 types of common conflict scheduling issues:
- Overlapping events: When two assignments are scheduled at the same time slot.
- Double-booking: When two field service representatives are booked for the same job.
- Unavailable time slot: When a field service agent is booked for a slot when the person is already scheduled for another assignment.
To avoid these scheduling pitfalls, use field service scheduling and dispatching tools that are as much about you as it is about your customers. Plannit offers the features that will enable you to take huge strides towards effective schedule management with all of your appointments, contacts, routes, and jobs are in one place.
Creating a Unified Schedule
With an FSM solution, you can create and modify jobs and visits while monitoring the status of jobs in progress. It enables you to connect your schedule to customer management, route planning, and invoicing tools, all in one single app. It further aids you in anticipating potential service requests based on the service history of your customers.
Predict Trends in Team Schedules
In most cases, managers and field technicians should be able to estimate how much time it would take to accomplish specific tasks. Tracking the rendered hours of a field worker will allow you to forecast completion times before assigning the technician to a new task.
Deploying an FSM platform means you can easily plan your days, track work crew assignments, and get real-time updates on jobs in progress. Organizing your busy days can be a matter of minutes with a system offering intuitive features like drag-and-drop daily and weekly agendas, scheduling recurring customer visits, and colour coding your appointments. You can also coordinate schedules seamlessly, assign tasks and notify your clients when a technician arrives and view job progress in real-time.
Tracking Billing and Payments
Field service professionals spend most of their days completing jobs, meaning that billing and payments can take up a lot of their time on evenings and week-ends.
FSM systems streamline the process for you. For example, you can use built-in billing and payment processing features to digitize invoicing and estimate approvals. These can also be leveraged to process credit card payments and other online payment methods.
With such a system in place, field personnel are relieved of the responsibility of dealing with the financial aspects and focus on what it is they’re paid to do. Implementing a simple, all-in-one app means you’re making quoting and billing simple—for both you and your customers. You are able to generate digital estimates and send them off to a customer instantly. With clients able to easily approve estimates online, you see the real-time response and can immediately start scheduling the job, all in the same app.
Most FSM software offers integrated payment processing that enables you to get paid faster and simplifies your collection processes. You can also sync transactions with your accounting system in real-time and easily track outstanding invoices.
In addition, you can streamline contract renewals at the start of each season. Customer notes can easily be added to your team’s work orders and you can pull up a quote or invoice anytime, anywhere, all in one easy-to-navigate app.
Managing Customer Communications
Clear communication is key to the success of any business. Without an effective means to communicate with your field team and client base, problems are inevitable and these may cost you jobs or hurt your reputation as a high-quality service provider.
To eliminate miscommunication, problems in relaying instructions, and other communication pitfalls, businesses should consider adopting the following strategies:
- Proactively monitor customer touch points. Be it through social media, email, web forms, phone calls, or text, there are many ways through which a customer will engage with you. Centralizing these touch points will allow you to monitor them more easily. As a result, you can simplify the way you qualify leads and address inquiries. This will also help you ensure that no new requests slip through the cracks.
- Create a reminder system. You wouldn’t want to arrive at your customer’s residence only to find that they are not home. So, in addition to setting an appointment with your client, you may also want to create reminder alerts that will notify them of your appointment before the day and/or on the day itself. You may also want to consider informing them when it is time for contract renewals.
- Invest in a customer-centric hub. Your customers’ time is just as important as yours. As such, it should not be a mission to access updates on their service requests. By investing in a customer-friendly hub, you open up a way for clients to communicate easily with you, and access documents related to the work they've hired you to do. This may even include giving customers the option to handle their payments digitally.
Plannit brings all of your communication channels together in one location, connecting your Facebook, email, web forms, phone, text messages, and chatbot messages in a single, easy-to-use solution. This means never missing a new opportunity and qualifying new leads faster while prioritizing new requests and follow-ups.
The key to winning new business lies in customer relations. By streamlining communication channels through one platform, you can efficiently communicate with customers and improve your customers' experience. Automated responses and intelligent phone bots and chatbots let your contacts know their message is received and acted on. Plannit handles this for you even when you’re otherwise engaged.
- Automatically let customers know you’re on the way
- Create customer surveys
- Quickly respond 24/7 to any questions they might have
- Send friendly reminders to schedule seasonal or annual service
Deploying the appropriate tools allow you to optimize the manner in which you interact with your clients, enables your team to perform at their best, and ensures overall customer satisfaction, all of which contribute to a healthy balance sheet.
Dispatch Work With One Click
In an increasingly competitive business environment and with the rapid and relentless technological rollouts transforming the modern workplace, your business must be equipped with the right tools.
Stamping out inefficiencies should be a top agenda item if your business is to survive and thrive in the digital age. Implementing the appropriate tech tools is a smart first step and need not be a complicated process. From managing service requests and schedules to processing billing and payments, Plannit’s all-in-one field service management platform will allow you to mitigate the myriad of challenges, keeping your customers satisfied and loyal and your field personnel empowered and motivated. The perfect combination to keep your business growing, your brand visible, and its reputation intact.
Request a demo today and discover firsthand how Plannit can meet your unique operational requirements, amplify your customer service levels, and propel your business towards success.
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