Technology, at its most basic level, is meant to make our lives easier in some way, shape or form. In the context of field service, the opportunity to move away from paper-based processes or repetitive tasks, is just scratching the surface of what is possible. A level deeper, is field service management process automation. Field service management process automation is the ability to take a manual field service workflow and apply automation, thereby increasing operational efficiency, reducing errors and improving the customer service experience.
So, why is now the time for field service management business process automation? The reality is, with field service operations moving at a fever pitch, and next-generation field service management automation software in the mainstream, there are no more excuses to delay adoption. Here, I break down why now is the time to automate your field service processes.
Appearing Outdated and Unable to Compete
Look around at competitors in your industry, are they innovating across any areas of their business? Are they adopting cutting edge technology to move their business forward or increase their operational efficiency?
More and more organizations adopt technology to demonstrate they are innovative. Especially in highly competitive—sometimes commoditized—industries. Along with making it easier to compete, it’s also a customer perception issue.
As an example, think about the type of cellphone you last purchased. Did you buy it for the basic utility of having a mobile phone or did you buy a smart phone? Did you want to be able to send text messages, leverage apps, get work done and browse the internet on that one device?
The process doesn’t differ greatly when organizations get serious about field service management software. Your customer perceives you as being on the cutting edge, using the latest technology to run your business operations. If you don’t move in that direction, you look outdated and out of touch with other competing businesses in your space who already made the switch. More importantly, you miss out on all the benefits gained and inefficiencies removed when leveraging field service management automation software.
Capturing Lost Revenue and Gaining New Revenue Streams
An interesting thing happens when field service organizations begin automating across their field service business processes and operations: they recover lost revenue or even capture additional revenue. One of the highly sought-after benefits of adopting field service management automation software is being able to add customers that you weren’t able to attract before, or maybe you weren’t able to handle before due to capacity restraints or a lack of visibility across assets.
In fact, the time-intensive process of invoicing is a great example. With paper-based processes, there are multiple points of wasted effort throughout this one seemingly simple process. Filling out the paper form manually, making an error calculating subtotals and subsequently the total, forgetting to include photos or a signature, and then either mailing or physically handing in the “final” invoice. Any time changes need to be made it just adds to the time lost.
Why go through all that pain when it can be automated? Here’s the step by step example of an automated field service management process:
Step 1: A digital work order or task appears on the field service mobile application on the technician’s mobile device for the day, week or month, depending on how their screen is configured.
Step 2: Through automated business logic embedded in the work order form, fields can be pre-populated with common information, including across multiple forms, to help reduce the number of fields that need to be filled out by the technician.
Step 3: With the right field service mobile application, the technician can take photos, add markup or annotations and fill in values that are automatically calculated and totaled. We have a number of customers that leverage math controls on their forms for invoicing, range validation or other instances that require calculations. After filling in the remaining fields, the technician signs the form via a signature field.
Step 4: From the same work order form, the technician emails the completed work order form to the appropriate person or people and also emails a version directly to the customer with only they data they should see.
Step 5: The field operations manager is notified the work order is complete and the technician is already on their way to the next job.
We have many customers who need to relay information to their customers and even their customers customers as soon as possible. Automating this process makes the information available in real-time with their customers, who then can provide information to their customers faster. The best part? Where large customers maintain their own large customer bases, this is a flexible process that can scale based on demand of the field service work being performed. Coordinated scheduling, digital work orders and asset management, real-time alerts and, at the end, a professional package back to the customer, with concise reporting that fully documents the field service performed is the beauty of business process automation of field service operations.
With automation, we know customers that have been able to expand their business into new areas, reaping far greater revenue sources than they thought possible.
Communicating and Collaborating with Customers, Operations Managers and Field Crews in Real-Time
The customer service experience and real-time collaboration are also two major factors in the move to field service management business process automation. Today, field service organizations must make the experience as seamless as can be, including communications via real-time alerts, communications and collaboration.
A simple text message with the status of a technician’s arrival is an easy way to keep customers happy. Everyone has experienced the need for a technician come to their home or business to complete a job during a specified time-window, only to have the technician be a no-show. That is no longer acceptable for any business today and customers know it. They’ll simply find a new place to take their business. Real-time communications and collaboration help level-up the experience, improving field service organizations across any industry.
Ultimately, there are a million reasons to automate your field service business processes. The point is, start somewhere and start now, or miss out on the many opportunities to move your business forward.
Image Source: Unsplash by Joshua Sortino