When many people stayed home on work furlough or a new remote-work model during the pandemic, essential field service workers could not. Businesses and residences still needed services such as HVAC maintenance, plumbing repairs, cleaning and landscaping services – and the demand for last-mile delivery services skyrocketed. Field techs needed effective ways to do their jobs, provide excellent customer service – and stay healthy.
The primary need these businesses have from ISVs is a mobile solution. Tim Campbell, Sales Director with First American Payment Systems, says field services businesses rely on mobile for functionality, including dispatching and communications. “About 40 to 60 percent of businesses had solutions along those lines when the pandemic began,” says Campbell. “Now, they’re table stakes. ISVs that didn’t have a mobile solution have had to ratchet up their efforts. We’ve seen a big uptick in ISVs adding mobility to their stacks.”
New Processes, New Technology
Campbell points out that, like businesses in other verticals, field services teams have had to adapt their processes to continue to provide the services their customers need while keeping their techs and customers safe during the pandemic. Field service operations are looking for ISVs who can offer solutions that support distanced, touchless experiences, including:
- Scheduling: When the pandemic hit, consumers’ disposable income shifted from things like entertainment and travel to other activities, such as home improvements. Some field services businesses experienced an overwhelming demand for their services. However, level-headed managers realized the boom could be temporary, so they chose not to hire, only to have to lay off those new employees later. Optimizing schedules was vital to provide a higher volume of quality service with existing staff.
- Route planning: Field services organizations want to ensure their techs are following the most efficient route and reaching the maximum number of customers each day.
- Data collection in the field: Solutions that enable technicians to collect or enter all necessary information when onsite can help companies operate more efficiently and support social distancing for employees.
- QR code or text payments: Technicians can present a QR code for a customer to scan with their smartphone camera or send a link directing the customer to an online payments page, similar to processes e-commerce customers follow to pay for their orders.
Are Field Techs Still Carrying Payment Devices?
Campbell says ISVs should be aware that there is some debate in the industry over whether it’s necessary for field services companies to invest in payment devices. “If you’re a large field services company with a fleet of 100 trucks, do you want to purchase 100 devices, especially when the likelihood is high that some will be lost or broken?” Campbell asks.
On the other side of the argument, however, companies know if they drive all payments back to their online payment pages with text links or QR codes, they need to consider whether they’ll be charged higher interchange rates. “But ISVs are in tune with this issue,” Campbell comments. “Many of them adopt a fixed rate pricing model – it’s simpler math for their customer and easier to figure out what costs will be than with interchange plus.”
“ISVs want to provide the best possible experiences for their clients, and, by combining the right payment option with their Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, they can deploy them quickly and easily,” he says.
The Most Important Trend: Forming a True Partnership with Your Users
Campbell, who routinely communicates with ISVs, says one of the most important trends they need to be aware of in the field services space is that other developers vying for market share are competing on customer experience.
“In field services, many businesses are multigenerational, and they want to be treated like family,” Campbell points out. “Software developers are working to provide the best possible customer experience and create a one-stop-shop, including payments.” He says that ISVs are even taking advantage of white label payments programs to keep their brands front and center with their clients.
Campbell also reminds ISVs that “field services” isn’t a single vertical with all businesses operating in a similar fashion. For example, a handyman may need to enable one-time, in-person or online payments, but a lawn care service may need the option to set up recurring payments. “Understand the differences and nuances of each of your customers to provide the best experiences and build longer, stickier customer relationships,” Campbell says.