Field service operations have always been complex and messy. With operations carried out client premises, control and productivity rest on several factors not under the control of the enterprise. Mobile-based field service management suites (FSM) have attracted the interest of field service enterprises for its ability to bring control to operations and improve productivity. Here is how FSM suites deliver better control and improve the productivity of field agents.
1. Improved Data Processing
Field agents drown in data. Undertaking service or repair is just one part of their job. Collecting data from the field and filing reports takes as much time as the actual work.
Mobile apps make it easy for field agents to collect data, enter information to forms and reports, and update the status of work orders in real-time. It spares field agents from entering data manually, or jotting down data and entering it to the CRM at the end of the day. Advanced FSM suites offer transcript generation, text to speech, and social media integration.
The mobile app automates data capture wherever possible. It collects vital information such as the GPS coordinates, client details on the input of an identifier. An FSM app for HVAC repairs uses the smartphone sensors to record temperatures, or QR scan to collect data from a device. An FSM app for lawn maintenance services detects atmospheric conditions such as moisture and humidity.
Mobile field inspection forms and checklists auto-populates entries using automatically-collected data wherever possible. It integrates videos and images and allows capturing signatures. The app timestamps entries, ensuring form integrity. When there is no workaround to manual data entry, the app offers cues such as auto-suggestions and range validations.
The suite prompts field agents to download the correct forms and inspection checklists. It transmits the completed document to the relevant stakeholders.
The net result is faster processing, with improved accuracy. Field workers get to spend more time on the field, doing their jobs than waste time on paperwork.
2. Better Insights
Information is power in the world of field service.
An FSM suite enables information visibility. It centralizes information, allowing easy retrieval.
Field agents may refer to the knowledge repository for information on how best to conduct their service. The how-to guides and manuals allow technicians to resolve cases without follow-up visits.
A list of various chemicals and usage instructions facilitates cleaning teams. Field agents save valuable time referring to such to-the-point and curated content than engage in a wide search.
Different zones have different regulations on safety equipment for workers engaging in hazardous tasks, mandatory insurance, regulations on the disposal of different types of waste, and more. Field agents gather up-to-date information on local laws and regulations.
The field agent may use the FSM suite to dig into client history, to understand preferences and history of services. The FSM suite offers field agents access to client and work information. Today’s customers prefer customized service. They appreciate field agents who are aware of their engagement history with the company.
The FSM suite integrates with the CRM and other company systems. Such systems often contain rich information on the customer, useful for field agents. It may contain a chat of the previous service request, where an agent has probed and identified the root cause of the issue. Access to chat prevents an avoidable repeat of the exercise.
Field agents using mobile FSM suite may keep track of equipment usage, service contracts, warranties, and other vital information. Timely reminders allow field agents to reach their worksite aware and equipped to do the job.
3. Improved Communication
Mobile-based FSM suite streamlines field communications.
Often, communication from the field is chaotic. Unclear communications cause delays and missed opportunities.
A communication module within the FSM allows the field agent to contact their supervisor fast and effortlessly. They do not have to waste time searching for contact information or exit the app to make a chat or call.
Seamless communication eases processes. The field agent may, for instance, connect with a remote expert and resolve an issue above his pay grade. Advanced FSM allows augmented reality. Hands-free communication allows technicians to work on machinery while receiving real-time instructions from remote technicians. The AR solution may annotate machinery parts, further easing the process for the technician.
4. Track the Technician’s Whereabouts
Most mobile-based FSM suites come with GPS and live-tracking features. The ability to track the field agent’s whereabouts delivers many benefits for all stakeholders.
Supervisors track the field agent’s movement, and make timely interventions, as appropriate. Live tracking reduces slack and offers prompt resolutions to trouble spots. For example, a property maintenance company creates a geofence to record the attendance of its field workers.
FSM with automated scheduling applies machine-learning algorithms. These suites factor in a host of factors such as leaves, overtime, and other considerations, to generate optimal work schedules. The push notifications on upcoming schedules and other updates keep field agents organized.
The supervisors, with a bird’s eye view, are in a better position to direct the technician through the best route and reach the customer faster. They may divert the nearest plumber to attend to a pipe burst, or the nearest qualified technician to attend a failed air-conditioning.
Managers and analysts monitoring field agent movements over time unearth potential work issues. When a particular work takes longer than estimated, it necessitates a review and or changes in billing.
Tracking the technician’s movement generates analytical data. Analysts develop productivity metrics and KPIs that guide decision-making.
As a spin-off benefit, clients tracking the field agent due to arrive at their place get assurance. They make far lesser follow-up calls, reliving the load on customer support.
5. Manage Inventory
The productivity of field agents depends not just on his skills or ability, but also their surroundings and work conditions. Optimal productivity requires the availability of inventory. The FSM suite allows the field agent to check on the inventory levels, and place timely requisitions. A cleaning team leaves for a job equipped with the right tools and chemicals. An HVAC repair team proceeds to a worksite with the correct spare parts. Such real-time insights and updates to inventory, made possible by mobile field FSM, preempts delays and revisits.
Digital tools improve field worker productivity by 73% when applied in the right way. The FSM suite makes work seamless and improves productivity manifold. Improved productivity reduces the stress-level of employees and better work-life balance. This, in turn, generates an upward spiral of excellence.