Achieving more from your resources in 2021

Over recent years, field service businesses have benefitted from some impressive advancements in technology, with specialist software now able to integrate applications and streamline many of what were previously manual processes.

According to one report, almost half of businesses surveyed found that automation led to an increase in revenue, enabling service reps to be more efficient, to work more productively, as well as providing access to key customer information and inventory data.

The impact of Covid-19 has been devastating for a number of industries, with many fighting smaller profit margins while still seeking to offer the best possible service - and the field service industry is no different. Automated systems can help your team work smarter, providing instant access to key customer information, scheduling tools, complete work history and inventory data, ensuring they arrive at every job fully prepared for the task in hand.

In fact, one study conducted across APAC, EMEA and North America during the height of the pandemic, found that 56 per cent of companies see acquiring digital competencies and establishing a service culture as a critical success factor to thrive in the upcoming disruption. While 83 per cent see opportunities today to increase efficiency of service delivery, to improve margins.

It’s rare that a technician's day will run exactly to plan and being able to proactively manage your team can help generate significant savings over the course of a year. If, for example, you employ fifty operatives, who all spend around an hour per day collecting additional parts from your warehouse, or needlessly clocking up additional mileage, the annual cost can soon begin to spiral.

With a fully integrated system you can send push notifications directly to your employees’ handheld devices, ensuring that they are notified of any changes or issues whilst on the move. Not only will this allow you to better allocate jobs and ensure staff time is always put to good use, it can also help improve staff retention levels. By minimising the number of needless miles driven and the hours of wasted time, motivation and enthusiasm levels should remain much higher, also allowing your team to focus on value-add activity for the bulk of their working day.

Equipping your team with mobile applications, accessible from smartphones or tablets, can help better coordinate your service centre processes, also ensuring efficient use of resources. If, for example, an employee finishes a service call quicker than planned, they can notify the control room or other team members. Rather than driving all the way back to base, they can easily be redeployed to another job with the full customer service history sent directly to their device.

Without these systems in place, you might find yourself having to employ additional staff to ensure customer service remains at a high standard or having to deal with customer complaints if field operatives are arriving at jobs unprepared, without the required parts or later than anticipated. The understandable frustrations caused by both repeat visits or late arrivals, from the customer and operatives point of view might also result in reputational and financial damage in the longer term.

Without automated systems, your team might also spend a significant proportion of their working day trying to locate information, either searching through paper records or manual spreadsheets. Increasingly, customers are expecting a higher standard of service, especially if they’re re-considering their commercial partnerships. By arriving on time, fully prepared with the latest technology at their fingertips, you can maintain the competitive advantage and, hopefully, secure new business.

By embracing automation, field service businesses can achieve increased productivity without having to invest additional revenue, improve fix-time rates, and focus on adding more service-led revenue streams - all of which are vital for businesses who are looking to thrive in 2021.