Providing an exceptional customer experience is one of the most important aspects of running a successful field service business. Technologies such as cell phones, web-based parts ordering platforms, and other systems that allow for fast dispatching and parts ordering can play an important role in improving your customer’s experience. However, simply having access to technology doesn’t always ensure efficient use after you factor in the high-touch aspect of field service calls. At the end of the day, using several disparate tools can cause confusion and result in various inefficiencies. Many companies that deploy field service technicians often find themselves manually juggling this complex blend of staff and technology, and are at risk of having something important fall through the cracks.
Field service management software was designed to help streamline these processes in order to help businesses deliver the best possible customer experience.
In this guide, we’ll help you understand how field service management software can help streamline your business, and discuss important considerations to keep in mind when deciding which field service management software system is best suited to your needs.
What does field service management software do?
Field service management software (FSM) automates various mobile applications used to serve client needs in the field. Traditionally, service teams have used various mobile and computer-based applications to track individual aspects of service. Because teams rely on a conglomeration of systems to perform individual tasks, this can lead to underutilized resources, creation of idle time, and miscommunication between clients and technicians. Field service management software helps automate and coordinate these disparate tools in order to enable field service teams to work more efficiently.
Key features in field service management software
At a high level, field service management software fulfills a few important goals:
- Improve communication between customers and field service workers
- Improve utilization of resources
- Streamline overall customer experience
- Facilitate communication between field workers and headquarters
- Reduce paper and data entry by maintaining all data in one central location
FSM software accomplishes these goals in a few different ways, which we’ll outline below.
High labor costs for the skill sets of qualified field service technicians pose a significant cost to your business. Having a technician arrive too early before the arrival of an anticipated part, or too late, long after the part has arrived, can create idle time for the field worker, and result in a dissatisfied client. For these reasons, it’s important to coordinate every step of the appointment, including the tasks of ensuring that the necessary parts arrive at the right time, and that the technician and client arrive on site at the agreed upon time. A strong FSM system integrates dispatch and parts tracking to confirm that the technician will have the relevant equipment for the customer’s appointment. Some systems also include route optimization, which can be a significant time saver for your business, and can result in a substantial reduction in cost, especially when it comes to fuel.
Field service management software also enables users to update and manage their schedules on the go. If someone in the office makes a change to an employee’s schedule, they’ll be notified about the change, and their schedule will be updated accordingly. This real-time syncing capability is important for reducing any confusion that can arise from cancelled or moved appointments.
Since unexpected issues will inevitably arise, and result in field service workers showing up late, it’s important that updates are frequently communicated to customers to prevent them from being in the dark. Field service management software can help in this regard, by streamlining communications with customers.
Well-coordinated field service visits facilitated by an FSM can have a technician in and out of a client facility quickly. And in the event of that a part arrives later than expected, an FSM can accurately and quickly explain the revised time to the client with confidence. This can go a long way in soothing an irate client who must wait a bit longer than expected.
In addition, FSM software can help streamline communication between the office and field technicians. Last-minute requests for additional services can be relayed quickly to a team that has already been deployed, which can help eliminate the need for additional return trips. The same is true for in-the-field part requirements, as team members can order and track parts from mobile apps, rather than relying on a chain of messages that results in a longer waiting time.
Electronic payment & forms
Field service management software can help reduce your paper usage by enabling customers to sign forms electronically, and pay for services. This helps reduce the likelihood of lost paperwork, and ensures that you get paid more quickly. In addition, it removes the need for manual data entry. Many systems also integrate with Quickbooks, which further reduces the need for data entry.
Accurate inventory forecasting
Nothing throws a service team off schedule more than a late arriving part. It is also common for purchasing departments to order a second part for expedited delivery to accommodate and soothe the client, rather than wait on the original part to arrive. This adds extra cost and ties up cash in the form of excess inventory, as well as the additional cost of labor for a rescheduled visit.
FSM software can help optimize each field service visit by creating an integrated view of purchasing and tracking of shipments, and pushing updates to the technician’s mobile phone to assure that the right part is in place. It also allows technicians to place orders at the client site, where the part number is fresh and readily accessible, rather than resorting to error-prone methods, like waiting until they return to the shop to manually enter a written note or trying to recall a part number from memory.
Field Service Management systems include data and reporting capabilities that enable you to analyze trends within your field service functions. For example, FSM software can help you analyze unused inventory. Companies with service branches often hold extra inventory on certain parts due to lead time or expense. Companies can use an FSM to analyze the data and develop usage reports tied to inventory, and use this information to reduce excess inventory and optimize costs.
How much does field service management software cost?
Many systems offer different pricing tiers based on varying levels of functionality, and according to the number of users who will be using the system. RazorSync and Jobber are two popular field service management systems that follow this pricing structure. RazorSync’s most popular package costs $249/month for up to 15 users, whereas Jobber charges $129/month for up to 10 users, and $240/month for an unlimited number of users.
On the other hand, some systems have larger upfront costs, but charge one-time license fees rather than recurring monthly fees. Wintac is a popular system that follows this pricing structure. Wintac charges a one-time fee of $2,695, plus an extra $1,245 for each additional user. Though this is a higher upfront cost, it can ultimately be cheaper in the long run when compared to other systems that have a recurring monthly charge.
Your field service team is often the most common client-facing element of your company. Using field service management software can be one of the best ways to improve your customer’s experience, and streamline your team’s processes. Though this software can cost thousands of dollars per year, it’s a worthwhile investment for field service businesses that have a substantial customer base.