Mobile technology is one important way to help improve field service operations and keep technicians satisfied and more efficient. Any type of field service industry – from general contracting and maintenance to pest management, retail warehouse and distribution, oil and gas, and utilities – can benefit from mobile technology that workers can use in the field or in their vehicles.
Although many field services enterprises have relied on long-standing manual processes as a part of their workflows, internet commerce, and ridesharing companies are showing us that minimizing buying friction is not only possible – it’s raising the bar on customer expectations. I’m not suggesting ISVs replicate those models, just understand there are lessons to be learned.
We are seeing mobile technology begin to revolutionize field service in three ways:
1. A Complete Office on Wheels
Mobile technology gives field workers access to business applications virtually any time and anywhere, so they can access the information they need and update records in real time.
Although online workflows can be seamlessly digital, field workers often need to print documents for their customers, such as full-page insurance estimates, HVAC service and installation instructions, compliance documentation, or maintenance and repair reports. Depending on the application, they may also need to print smaller format delivery tickets, labels, invoices, and receipts.
By shifting this part of the workflow to the field with mobile technology, field workers have little need to return to the office to generate documentation or labels and update records.
By forming smart integration partnerships, your ISV can provide your field service clients the capability for end-to-end workflows in the field.
2. Familiar Operating Systems
There is a trend toward enterprises choosing familiar and easy-to-use consumer mobile operating systems for field mobility. For example, pest control enterprise Rollins Inc. embarked on a program to equip its more than 5,000 field workers with an Apple iPhone, Brother PocketJet full-page mobile printer, battery case and printer caddy. Technicians who have transitioned can now easily access the information they need, pair the printer with the iPhone, and print documentation explaining the types of chemicals used, service type, and disclaimers — which can exceed 30 pages for large customers. The solution is helping to streamline workflows and improve efficiencies in the field.
When you are developing software applications for field service, consider giving your clients the option to run them on consumer devices for quick adoption, ease of use, and improved productivity.
3. Better Customer Experiences
Field workers with easy-to-use mobile technology and full capabilities to complete workflows in the field also help to provide better customer experiences. In his interview with CIO Applications, which named Brother Mobile Solutions (BMS) as one of the Top 25 Field Service Solutions Providers of 2018, BMS president Dave Crist says, “With the ability to print important documents, labels, and receipts immediate and on-site, field service crews can more rapidly resolve problems and move on to the next job — helping increase the overall productivity.” Crist adds that mobile print technology can dramatically minimize unnecessary delays from handwriting mistakes and transcription errors.
As an ISV, you may create a custom solution for a field service client. In addition to providing an application that enables efficient internal workflows, it’s vital that you give them the ability to deliver seamless customer experiences. Field organizations compete on customer-centric capabilities such as fast, efficient service and convenience. Your success will depend on how well your application supports those objectives.
It All Saves Time
Each of these advantages of using field service mobility solutions can also add up to significant time savings. Field workers can shave hours from their current schedules by not having to return to the office to print documentation or update records, by working more quickly supported by an easy-to-use system, by minimizing errors, and keeping customers happy with fast, efficient service. Workers can make the most of their time — and, depending on the operation, maximize commissions — allowing them to be more successful at their jobs.
The time is not so far in the future when all field workers will use mobile technology for their virtual office on the go, to stay connected and to enhance their job performance. Is your ISV taking advantage of this opportunity?