While field service operations are critical to business success, it’s often seen as an area to cut costs, not something to invest in. So how can you avoid the red pen of the CFO at budget time? The secret is smarter field service management. It’s in finding low-cost ways to improve field service productivity. By doing so, you can provide better customer service, improve technician experiences, and reduce field service costs more easily — all of which give you the standing you need to justify your budget and secure more investment.
In five steps, learn how to increase field service productivity.
Here’s the challenge: too many organizations deal with inefficient processes and inflexible field service management software, making it nearly impossible to improve operations at a reasonable cost. The more manual your processes, the more likely you are to experience scheduling conflicts, miscommunication about what jobs require, and missing information.
As a result, technicians may need to make several trips to the same location, hampering productivity and frustrating both customers and technicians in the process. This can lead customers to choose other solutions, and your technicians to choose other employers — in other words, competitors that better leverage technology to improve their customer and employee experiences.
5 Tips to Improving Field Service Productivity
Giving your field agents the tools and support they require to meet the needs of your customers and deliver first-time-fixes is essential to your organization’s success. Here are five ways you can affordably modernize your field service operations for higher productivity:
- Measure the essentials. You can’t fix what you can’t measure. Even worse, you can’t prove that you’ve fixed it to your stakeholders, which undermines your case for continued investment.
Take a look to make sure that you are measuring every key aspect of your field service operations, from time to completion to customer satisfaction. Start small, with the things you can easily measure. Evaluate your metrics for their accuracy and value, and update/improve them over time as you generate more insights.
- Get more digital. How much of your information and processes have you digitized? The more that you can digitize, the easier it will be to incorporate automation and make data-driven decisions. In addition, it will allow you to integrate and leverage your existing digital applications, improving your company’s ROI.
- Automate, automate, automate. Not only can you increase productivity by automating repetitive, lower-value business tasks, such as data entry, but you can minimize technician frustration over duplicating work. Analyze your business processes to see what you can automate. If needed, redesign those processes from the ground up to make them match your business today. Examples may include automated scheduling and dispatch, inventory ordering, and vehicle tracking.
Keep in mind that many of your business processes were likely established when your business was smaller; what was easy to do manually with ten people can be difficult with 100. This can even impact staff back at the office; for example, does the CFO still need to approve every transaction, or can automated spending thresholds be implemented to save time?
- Look at the tools you already have. Improving your field service operation doesn’t always mean rolling out expensive new hardware or software. Often, you can use cost-effective solutions to extend the value of the field service management software and hardware you already have.
For example, almost every employee already has their own smartphone, while many businesses have also deployed tablets to their field staff. However, these devices are often used only for basic communications and note-taking. Employees are likely leveraging only a fraction of the capabilities these devices offer.
A high-performance low-code platform like OutSystems can make it easy to quickly create rich, custom applications for your business that run on your employees’ smartphones and tablets and help them do more. It can also allow you to connect siloed data from across your business — such as schematics and inventory, which technicians can use to optimize their work — and integrate with your existing field service management software.
- Look at the tools you don’t have (but others do). There are thousands of applications, solutions, and technologies available to improve your field service operations. They range in price, and many today come packaged in more affordable SaaS-based or consumption-based licensing. This makes it easier to try them out, prove their value, and use the savings you generate to pay for increased usage.
A good strategy is to use these new tools for smaller, cost-effective improvements that you can make in a matter of days or weeks. This can immediately improve how your technicians work, buying you time to roll out larger initiatives. Some areas to consider include implementing electronic forms and checklists, deploying self-service chatbots, or upgrading your mobile field service applications.
A modern application development platform can help you integrate data and applications from across your business to put everything your field staff needs to accomplish their work efficiently in the palms of their hands, no matter where they are. It can help you overcome the challenges associated with inefficient processes and inflexible field service management software. You can improve your field service operations at a reasonable cost and drive higher productivity, better customer service, and improved technician experiences.
With OutSystems, you can leverage a cost-effective approach to quickly deliver multichannel applications that will delight your customers, your field service technicians, and your CFO.