The world—and your customers—are going digital. Is your field service business keeping up with them? No one can deny that digital business processes are simply faster (way faster) than manual ones, once you get over the learning curve and make digital a habit for the sake of your business productivity.
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In an era when customers are used to signing contracts on devices, getting updates on SMS, and receiving receipts via email, messy paper documents and inefficient business practices can make your company look behind the times.
But you’re too busy actually, you know, running your business to sift through the huge, ever-changing array of apps and programs that can bring that business up with the times. Then you wonder why your business productivity is taking a dip.
The ability to do more things in real time, and at a high level, basically improves your overall business operations and the productivity of your field service team.
This means that you might be working hard but are you working smart? Do you really want to increase your business productivity? Then the answer is clear. You have to look into some digital solutions. But this is easier said than done so we’ve put together a quick guide on how to improve productivity using digital solutions:
1. Know why you’re going digital.
We’ve established that, in general, it’s beneficial for businesses to go digital if they want to increase productivity. But you know your company best so it’s up to you to pinpoint the exact areas that you want to digitalize.
Do a quick mental business audit and write down just off the top of your head the biggest frustrations that your employees have and the areas where you feel like your company could be a lot more productive.
Is it your office managers being overwhelmed with scheduling tasks? Maybe invoicing is your nemesis. There is simply no one that enjoys chasing debtors.
2. Pinpoint your business productivity pain points.
If you want to start tackling the leaks in your business, you need to have a clear picture in your head. These are some of the most common field service pain points:
Paperwork disappears into the void.
When’s the last time you lost an important piece of paperwork? If you’re like many field service business owners, the answer is, ‘What time is it now?’ ‘Paper is not easy to manage and track, and that information doesn’t get shared very easily across the different users and departments that need it’, says Garrett.
Your office staff has to do double data entry
In a non-digital organization, data needs to be entered multiple times. Your technicians enter the information onto a paper form, then your office staff has to re-enter that exact same data into the CRM system, and maybe even again into the billing system. What a monumental waste of time—and money, since you’re paying your employees for all the time they spend duplicating their work.
The paperwork your technicians fill out is incomplete
On paper there’s no such thing as a ‘required field’, so if your technician doesn’t have the information they need right there and then, they may simply leave that part of the form blank. The incomplete form later goes to the office staff, and ultimately leads to time wasted digging up the information you need to send purchase orders, order the right parts for the job, invoice customers, and generally get jobs done correctly and on time.
It’s difficult to provide customer satisfaction
Many field service businesses have to spend time digging up information customers need, answering their questions, and fielding customer complaints about late (or missing) technicians, jobs that are behind schedule, and more. “Providing a high-level customer experience is a challenge for many field service businesses,” adds Neil Garrett.
Getting jobs is always a challenge
Customers are what your business is all about. Seriously: Without customers you simply don’t have a business. And yet, often the task of finding new customers and encouraging repeat ones falls through the cracks as business owners struggle with completing the jobs they already have, plus the accompanying paperwork.
Taking payment and invoicing is much harder than it should be
Not to mention the customers that are late in paying or downright refuse to do it. Nobody ever enjoys debt chasing.
3. Get the right digital tools!
You wouldn’t go about fixing a leaky pipe with a fire extinguisher, now would you? You would bring the right tools for the task at hand. It’s the same when it comes to your dwindling productivity rate. Since we listed all the pain points above, here are the remedies:
Fix all your paperwork woes by building a database.
And the way to build a database is by using a real-time tool like Google Docs. Not only is it free, but it allows you to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations that anyone in your team can see and edit in real-time, depending on the sharing options you selected. No need for double data entry since everyone will be working on the same files.
Make your forms digital. Yes, even the custom ones.
There’s no such thing as a required field in real life? Then create it! Pretty much all technicians these days carry around phones and tablets. Make the most out of these resources by using a tool like naturalForms to create your own personalized digital forms. Share them with your on-field technicians then watch how much smoother your operations are.
Techs don’t get a choice anymore on whether to fill a field or not, illegible writing is not an issue anymore, and customers are left impressed that they can sign for invoices on the spot. No need to worry, digital signatures are considered just as binding as the real thing!
Blow you customer expectations out of the water
Imagine two scenarios. In Scenario #1, the customer waits impatiently for your technician to arrive. Once the technician finally arrives, they hand the customer a messy pile of papers with cost estimates and contracts, and ask the customer to sign the work order with a leaky pen. Then the technician takes a look at the boiler and realizes they’ll need a part they don’t have—so they hand the customer yet more paper and head out the door.
In Scenario #2, the customer tracks the technician’s trip to their house with a GPS app, so they know exactly when the technician will arrive. The technician has the customer sign the work order digitally and automatically emails them a copy.
The technician then takes a look at the boiler and realizes they’ll need a part they don’t have—so they order the part on their mobile device and let the customer know when it’s scheduled to arrive. A new appointment is scheduled, and the customer receives a confirmation text the day before.
Notice how much more streamlined the process was in Scenario #2? So not only was the customer happier but the technicians managed to finish the job in half the time. This is what a high productivity rate is all about.
Let the jobs come to you.
Find software and apps that help you attract and retain customers. For example, Commusoft lets you send automated service reminders so customers come back when it’s time for regular maintenance, and also gives you the option to send follow-up messages to customers to make sure they’re happy with their service and to request reviews. Also, you can use email marketing services like MailChimp (which integrates with Commusoft, by the way) to send newsletters, helpful information, and special offers to your customers and prospects.
Automate your payments and invoices
Instead of using a traditional fixed-line traditional terminal, this technology works using your smartphone as the base. All your engineers or office staff need to do is to enter the cardholder’s details into the app and the debit or credit card payment is processed. As long as the cardholder has sufficient funds their card issuer will release the money, just like a conventional payment terminal.
The takeaway on field service business productivity
All these features come together into a powerful field service management software like Commusoft. But if you want to track your business productivity metrics, click below to download your free KPI spreadsheet and take your business to the next level!
Hi! I'm Cristina Maria
And I want to bring next-level strategies to the field service industry. When I'm not working on the best tips to grow your business, I'm on the lookout for a sci-fi novel to beat The Foundation.