The speed at which the field service management (FSM) landscape is evolving is alarming for many service providers, especially those wondering if they’re doing enough to future-proof their business and guarantee long-term growth.
From new tools and technology to a changing workforce, trying to stay ahead of the curve can be overwhelming. Don’t worry, though. We’ve put together a list of five ways you can prepare your service-centric business for the future:
1. Be mindful of demographic changes
The workplace is getting younger and younger with the rise of millennials and Generation Z. Have you considered what a younger workforce means for your business? Digital-savvy generations value mobile and online experiences, convenience, and self-service. They also expect increasingly personalized experiences from the brands and businesses they deal with, whether that’s personal recommendations on Netflix or Amazon or email communications tailored to their interests.
There are ways you can appeal to millennials and Generation Z, even in the field service industry. Today, more than 90 percent of consumers expect brands or organizations to have an online customer self-service offering.1 Consider leveraging self-service tools like a customized web portal to empower customers to manage their account, pay invoices, and log service calls. Reducing the steps required to place a service call and providing a clear, transparent process can go a long way in building a positive customer experience with all customers and particularly younger ones.
2. Optimize your business processes
Manual, time-consuming business processes are no way to get ahead in an increasingly competitive field service landscape. You want to complete calls and work orders quickly and effectively without sacrificing customer experience. The good news is you don’t have to with the right technology.
Technology enables you to streamline your operations so you can get more done with fewer resources. You don’t have to increase your overhead to win more business with a field service solution or integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP). These solutions connect all your critical business functions—accounting, service, inventory, purchasing, sales—and automate manual processes so you spend less time on admin work and data entry, and more time on what you do best.
3. Leverage mobile technology
We’re living in a mobile-first world, so it follows that your team should be empowered with mobile tools to help drive productivity and improve communication. Mobile enabling field service technicians is a critical opportunity for service organizations today. Field service represents a significantly larger risk than its more low-cost cousin, remote helpdesk.
It’s crucial that organizations find ways to make field service a profit center, not a profit drain, and mobile service management apps are the answer. A native mobile app helps technicians manage their service activities, gives dispatchers complete visibility into their service operation, and streamlines communication between dispatchers, technicians, and customers.
4. Focus on customer service
At the end of the day, your business is built on maintenance and service contracts, and your ability to deliver against those agreements. In the field service business, a good customer experience is critical. 97% of consumers say that customer service is very or somewhat important in their choice of, or loyalty to, a brand or business.2 Customers expect more and more from businesses, so look for ways to rise to the challenge.
Ask for feedback from customers and make positive changes in how you do business. Leverage tools like customer relationship management (CRM) to track the entire customer journey, in particular the post-customer history. Dig into their needs and search for ways you can deliver additional value, so you don’t have to worry about competing on price. Making customer service a key differentiator will help set you apart from the competition and position you as a leader in your industry.
5. Have the right field service software
Investing in a field service solution is investing in the future of your business, which is why it’s important to choose one that meets your needs today, tomorrow, and five years down the line. During the selection process, be sure to ask vendors about how they invest in their software, what training they offer, and how they deliver ongoing value to customers. If your field service software can’t scale with your business, it won’t set you up for long-term success.
Consider your existing business management tools. Are you experiencing growing pains? Some common symptoms are manual processes, searching for workarounds due to feature limitations, and difficulty getting the reports or insights you need. Out of-the-box tools like Excel and basic accounting packages like QuickBooks® help you get your business off the ground, but they don’t provide the industry-specific features a field service business requires, like inventory management or service dispatch.
Take our ERP Readiness Quiz to find out whether it might be time make the switch to a purpose-built ERP for field service businesses like yours.
1 Microsoft, “Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report”
2 Microsoft, “Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report”