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From manual field service tracking to FSM software

Aug. 5, 2015
Unfortunately, the field service industry is infamous for customer complaints. What are the most common grievances? Poor first-time resolution or total inability to resolve the issue The wait to receive an appointment Tardy technicians
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Customer satisfaction is the lifeblood of every business. Your organization’s top priority is to ensure customers are so happy with your products and services, that they’d recommend you to everyone they know.

Unfortunately, the field service industry is infamous for customer complaints.What are the most common grievances?

  • Poor first-time resolution or total inability to resolve the issue

  • The wait to receive an appointment

  • Tardy technicians

The good news?

Every complaint is an opportunity for you to improve your field service management!

Benefits of FSM software

Field service providers often suffer from disjointed communications, over-scheduled resources, and under-skilled technicians. This trinity stems from outdated practices and the inability to scale manual processes. To overcome these challenges, field service providers need dedicated resources to support and grow their efforts.

That’s where field service management software comes in.

When used properly, modern FSM software addresses all of these issues. For many companies, upgrading to FSM software can feel overwhelming at first. But once implemented, it’s a great way to eliminate spreadsheets and manual tracking, streamline your processes and successfully mobilize your business.

Follow the guidelines below in order to make the transition from manual field service tracking to FSM software as painless as possible.

Map current process

Every business follows a specific workflow — whether it’s official or unintentional. This process details responsibilities, communication methods and provides a way to estimate task length. A formalized process is important because it can be repeated to obtain consistent results. To ensure successful adoption and long-term ROI of FSM software, businesses must create an efficient workflow.

To optimize your field service process, you must first map your current workflow. Start from the beginning and identify every phase of the process and the responsibilities for each person involved, including:

  • What triggers a work order?

  • How does it transition to the next person?

  • Who approves it?

  • How do you track inventory and warranty information?

  • How are follow-ups managed?

Make sure to walk through the process several times to ensure you have an accurate map. 

Analyze, redesign your workflow

Once you have a map of your field service workflow, it’s time to pinpoint problems, challenges and opportunities to improve. Look for any duplicated tasks, undefined responsibilities, sources of delay, or redundant steps.

Analyzing your field service workflow is not optional. Each bottleneck or inefficient process that you identify ultimately helps determine which field service management software best fits the needs of your business.

If this crucial step is skipped, your FSM implementation could create even more issues. Why? Because you can’t use technology to fix an inherently flawed process. Successful implementation comes from creating an efficient field service process, then using FSM software to enhance it.

When looking for ways to improve, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are your technicians filling out forms by hand then manually entering that information into a system at the end of the day? This duplicate entry wastes time and can be streamlined with mobile FSM software.

  • Do customers complain because your technicians don’t have access to their bill? Remedy this with a cloud based system that gives service workers access to customer data and billing info.

  • Is your technician arrival time an open window? Customers want to know when to expect a worker. With modern FSM software, you can schedule technicians based on skills and proximity to the customer, then track their location and job progress.

  • Do you lose revenue over warranty confusion? If your contracts and SLAs are in different systems or spreadsheets, it’s easy to accidentally charge for a job or vice versa. FSM systems can ensure that accurate billing information is applied to all jobs.

Choose the software

Once you’ve identified areas to improve, you can pinpoint which software features will help you do so. Functionality will vary from vendor to vendor, but a good FSM system will have the following:

  • Customer appointments, trouble ticketing and order management.

  • Complex scheduling and routing optimization.

  • Worker activity management (driver logs, time tracking, job status updates).

  • Integration with inventory, accounting, and other back-office systems.

Next, create a list of preliminary vendors that match your criteria and take them for a test drive. Once you decide which one fits your business the best, it’s time to implement your optimized workflow and enforce the process with software.

Begin implementation with a beta group to help you work out the kinks, identify additional features you may have missed, or features you don’t actually need. Once you have success with one team, increase adoption across the entire organization.

Remember, every mishap is an opportunity. Use employee and customer feedback, as well as analytics to continuously improve your field service management. Follow these steps, and you’ll have no problem transitioning to FSM software.

Jenna Puckett is an associate technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice. She covers topics related to project management, marketing automation, employee performance, and other emerging tech trends. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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