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Managing Your Business While in the Field

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Field service managers are confronted with a range of challenges when dealing with multiple levels of coordination to get the job done and on time. It takes serious effort to process requests for services, schedule site visits, coordinate field assignments, plot the most efficient routes, and prepare the billing requirements. All this while handling more incoming requests.

Then there’s the customer service aspect. A big part of the customer expectation package is to stay in the loop about their service calls. If your technician is running late, you have to cancel, or if you have come back on a different day to complete the job, it helps to have a mechanism in place that relays these messages to the customer in good time.

In addition to the mechanical and administrative aspects of field service management, companies need effective strategies to meet customer expectations, balance the workforce and workflow while staying profitable. In the digital age, this inevitably means adopting new technology – digital tools in the form of a Field Services Management (FSM) platform.

Sudden changes in schedule or delays in travel time can aggravate a lot of customers. Providing instant feedback can help lessen the impact.

Effectively Tracking Each Field Service Job

Field staff and technicians try to stick to their assigned schedules. For managers, it’s critical to know your technicians’ real-time location and performance. They should also have visibility on the status of assigned jobs. Tracking your workforce while they are in the field also enables you to allocate work orders faster and dispatch jobs efficiently.

In situations that require adjustments in service schedules, communication plays a key role in maintaining trust with the client. Communication that entails a real-time update of the status of the field service personnel en route to the job site. For that to happen, you need to know exactly where your service team is located at any given time.

An FSM system must feature a robust tracking system that can pinpoint the location of every service team in a particular area. It should be capable of determining the proximity of an assigned team to its next service stop and allow the customer service team to provide clients with accurate ETAs.

Not only will the customer service team have the necessary information to keep waiting customers apprised, but the team can also determine which teams are ideally positioned to service an urgent nearby call-out. To put it in perspective, a 2021 Verizon Connect survey reported that half of the fleet managers surveyed say that the ability to reroute field crews for emergency jobs is the most important success factor for an operator.

Best Practices for Managing Your Home Service Business

Maintaining communications with field personnel can give them enough headway whenever there are sudden changes to the schedule or the route.

While it’s important to look for new ways to succeed, there are simple, yet extremely effective field service management practices that endure and that every operation should incorporate into their business. The following 5 best practices will help you streamline processes, raise employee performance, and grow revenue.

1. Be Proactive in Identifying Problems

The standout home service organizations are proactive in identifying training gaps, operational inefficiencies, and customer service issues. Staying ahead of these problems allows you to be more effective and efficient during each interaction with the customer.

Managers need to have their finger on the pulse of their service teams. They must be involved in the conversations happening among field service teams and regularly ask for open and honest feedback. Field service staff work closest to the customer and often have the most valuable insights, so leverage these.

2. Empower Your Workforce

Your workforce is your company's most valuable asset, especially staff in the field who are working and engaging with customers daily. Empowering them with relevant training and appropriate technology, such as a Field Service Management solution, will enable them to excel on the job position your company to grow.

An effective Customer Communication Management platform brings all of your communication channels together in one easy-to-use hub, making it simple for workers at different locations to access critical information and collaborate, minimizing the risk of missing important messages and miscommunication. An integrated platform further grants employees access to live customer data that they might not otherwise have had before.

A good field service management solution will get a technician to the right door and on time, but what happens when they encounter a never-before-seen problem at the customer site? Where do they turn? Do they wait on hold for 30 minutes to talk to a support agent, or send an email and hang around for an answer? These are the most common channels for field communication but are ineffective in the modern era. With the proliferation of mobile devices into 95% of Americans’ hands, there is no excuse not to leverage a modern way of getting answers out to the field.

With a Plannit solution, your field service staff are empowered with real-time answers and information. Field service techs can almost effortlessly reach out to the office for assistance or engage a colleague who can help troubleshoot an issue without being on location. Through cloud storage integrations, workers can access a client’s service history, or other important information to perform their tasks better.

With a field service management solution, filed staff can easily create an invoice template with standard parts and labor costs set as defaults, automatically generating invoices at regular intervals when a job is completed.

3. Listen, Listen, Listen

It's crucial to listen carefully to customer feedback if you want to ensure your clients remain loyal and happy and for your business remains competitive. We live in an era of unprecedented communication; so don't just rely on one-sided conversations with employees or leadership within the company. Listen carefully to outside perspectives, and who better than from customers themselves. This will generate useful insights about what really works well (or not) when you interact meaningfully with them.

When business processes are viewed through the lenses of employees, customers, and leadership, you get a holistic view which can then inform critical business decisions going forward.

4. Build Trust and Loyalty

It is easy to get caught up in the hype of acquiring new customers, but in an era of seemingly endless choices, nurturing your existing customer base must remain a strong focus area. Not only are happy customers your most trusted company ambassadors – they directly impact your bottom line in a few ways.

Loyal customers:

  • Can refer new business
  • Already understand and appreciate your value and thus cost less to service
  • Spread your company gospel on your behalf
  • Represent an opportunity for cross-selling

Implement customer success programs that ensure loyal customers aren’t taken for granted and left to wander to the competition. Favoured service agreements and pricing policies is one way to ensure the right customers receive the right level of attention and service.

Integrate Field Service Management With Existing Systems

Long-term, it pays to apply an integrated approach when deploying field service resources. Implementing a centralized field service management solution can help paint the bigger picture and opens up more efficient pathways to field service success.

Standalone software applications can be used to support business processes, but the real benefits become clear when multiple systems are talking to each other. By integrating field service management software with existing systems, you can automate mundane tasks and render your field technicians’ workflows even more streamlined. When already under pressure techs have to bounce in and out of different 5 applications to get the information they need for a job, valuable time is wasted and spawns frustrated technicians.

With Plannit, for example, field staff is able to view the history of a work order and discuss it with coworkers without having to leave the app, as well as view files, and share photos of what they are seeing. This streamlined experience spurs better, faster, and smarter teams to help your company reach its goals and thrive in an ever-increasingly competitive climate.

Managing your home service business through an efficient FSM platform can further yield the following benefits:

Higher Productivity

An effective field service management platform can help plot a more efficient service schedule that maximizes each team’s time in the field. Regardless of the level of involvement of each team member in a project, it’s essential to have excellent communication about job status. Streamlined communication between staff will enable your company to provide better customer service, and, crucially, help ensure that everyone on your team is accountable.

Efficient Data Collection and Reporting

Using modern analytics and tools, modern field service management can collect data before, during, and after field service calls. It can then analyze the data to show which areas need intervention and which are performing optimally. Modern FSM software can produce reports on time worked, job tracking, expenses, and customer feedback.

Implementing Efficient Field Operations

Automating processes like issuing work orders, securing customer signatures, generating billing statements, and tracking team locations allows field service staff to focus on their primary task: to service customers on site.

Using Fully-Featured FSM Software

Keeping your customers coming back again and again in the modern business era entails deploying an FSM platform that can enhance communications with your clients while running an automated system that manages service calls from dispatch to billing to payment. An all-in-one system can handle incoming client inquiries, schedule field visits, track team movement, generate work orders and billings, and collect data to be analyzed.

Plannit’s all-in-one web app goes beyond your typical home service management software. It helps you plan your days and the mobile app allows your crews to get the work done while in the field. In both instances, customer service is at the heart of the operation.

  • Unparalleled convenience when booking and billing field service requests via a cloud-based, paperless system accessible over mobile devices. No matter how the customer connects (email, phone, chat, social), the messages will always get there.
  • Centralized communication portal for inbound customer inquiries and service feedback that eliminates or minimizes dropped calls, lost messages and miscommunication.
  • Field service tracking and reporting that can provide real-time updates on where service teams are in relation to a scheduled service call.
  • Complete business and customer management through digital documentation, e-signature systems, and paperless billing.
  • Analytics and reporting to provide insights and information that can improve the service.

Plannit’s all-in-one customer-centric field service management platform is designed for home service pros who put a premium on customer service. Customer communications is thus at the heart of its operations, with real-time insights to ensure bookings are processed instantly and concerns addressed properly and promptly.

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