Changing Technology in the Field Service Industry
How Updated Technology Can Save Your Field Service Company Big
Within the field service industry, there are many moving parts. Technicians are out on calls, customers need quotes and invoices, and management has to keep track of it all. Paper methods of handling these pieces are becoming more and more outdated with new technological advances like AI and the Internet of Things, and industry leaders are taking advantage of some of the benefits.
Benefits extend beyond tracking moving pieces, covering such topics as risk management, sustainability, and customer self-service.
Sustainability is often confused with eco-friendly. While most sustainability solutions do help the planet, sustainability is defined as meeting our own societal needs while not comprising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Several factors go into sustainability, but some can be used by the field service industry.
Kindness for the Climate
Using such programs as route tracking can reduce the emissions from cars by cutting down driving time. This, in turn, reduces CO2 emissions and promotes a cleaner environment. Not only does route tracking reduce CO2, but it also reduces fuel consumption. This creates a smaller carbon footprint and improves the health of the environment as a whole.
The popularity of using online forms has skyrocketed with the use of tablets and smartphones. Gone are the days of using a punch card system to track hours for employees, thanks to software such as FieldAccess.
Customer invoices and orders are easily sent via email. Signatures for services are obtained on the spot and immediately uploaded to the appropriate server, and work orders are sent to and received by technicians with ease. All of these processes happen in minutes and are virtually hassle-free. Some services can even be performed offline, eliminating the worry of potentially unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
Less Asset Waste
With the development of the Internet of Things (more on that later!), predictive maintenance is becoming more and more common. In predictive maintenance, objects are equipped with smart sensors that recognize when they need maintenance. This leads to fewer trips by technicians into the field (incidentally also protecting the climate) and less waste from broken and non-repairable objects.
Instead of using a desktop that has a hard drive filled with files and a high energy bill, organizations are taking advantage of the Cloud, a wireless network where files can be stored and shared. This contributes to a paper-free environment, with forms and work orders able to be shared and sent by technicians right from the field. Techs can also access various work orders and send work records via the Cloud right to their superiors.
81% of Americans own some sort of smartphone.
The portability of these devices is part of their broad appeal, and industry leaders are capitalizing on it by using software like FieldGateway to send assignments to technicians—instead of having the techs come all the way back to the office for the details. Everything, including the address, services required, and quickest route to the call, is sent right to the technician’s phone or tablet.
Being in the field has its own risks, especially in more recent months during the spread of COVID-19. Trying to keep track of where technicians have been and who they have been in contact with is nearly impossible without the aid of technology. Not only can the pandemic be tracked, but technicians can also be warned ahead of time if they are heading into high-risk areas.
A huge part of risk management is prevention. Software companies will often offer a three-tier risk system (red, amber, and green), and using either basic or advanced assessment tools they will assign a color based on the level of danger in an area.
With a basic risk program, areas are only given a color rating. With a more advanced system, areas can be measured with various tools and given a more detailed safety rating.
Many companies offer COVID-19 tracking. Technicians’ whereabouts are monitored, and if they fall sick, their superiors have a record of who they have been in contact with. This helps keep technicians out and working instead of stuck in quarantine.
Technicians can also see “hotspots”—areas where COVID has been more active—and prepare accordingly. Hotspots can be updated frequently in accordance with the numbers from the CDC.
Reporting injuries once required phone call after phone call, making sure your information was reported to the right person. Thanks to mobile apps, workers can almost immediately report when they’ve been hurt on a job site.
The birth of telemedicine also ushered in a whole new era of treatment and prevention. Being able to get on-site help from a nurse without needing to go to an in-person clinic is a great advantage, particularly for those constantly on the go in the field.
Your Bottom Line
The bottom line is the lifeblood of any company. Smart business leaders look for solutions to increase their bottom line and keep it there, but they don’t sacrifice customer or employee satisfaction. Technology is helping to keep everyone happy and coming back for business and work.
Through the use of mobile applications developed specially for an organization, employees are able to access the tools and information they need for a job. Research has shown that 45% of field technicians say that their tools are just too slow, and 38% complain that they can’t access the right information. With the proper applications, devices, and software like FieldDirect, technicians have everything they might need right at their fingertips.
Fully Utilized Schedules (and More Jobs)
Mapping out the best routes to take to service calls not only helps the environment, but also the company’s profit. Thanks once again to mobile software, technicians can fill their days with jobs, leaving less themselves with less time in transit or sitting and waiting at an office.
Device tracking can also be used to find and notify technicians of nearby jobs, maximizing the tech’s workload while minimizing drive time. Less drive time means fewer repairs and lower fuel costs for company vehicles.
Communication is not only important between leaders and technicians, but also between organizations and customers. Using mobile software enables customers to see where their technician is, what services will be performed, and even a quote for the repairs or maintenance.
Some software programs allow customers to leave reviews or ratings for their technicians, boosting a company’s reputation and earning them possible new customers.
What Can We Learn from This?
While there are countless working pieces in a field service organization, advancing technologies have made it so much easier to track, predict, and solve issues within industries. Using the Cloud, going paperless, utilizing digital tools, and boosting sustainability is just the beginning of the advantages of using the newest technology.
Check out FieldConnect’s wide array of mobile software and help bring your industry to the future.