Much of the discussion about field service software hovers around why companies should initially invest in it. Companies usually emphasize how field service software speeds and simplifies daily field service tasks and allows you to automate processes you once had to do manually, such as schedule technicians, clock tech hours, and complete paper forms.
The reason companies usually invest in field service software in the beginning is to automate their everyday tasks. They want to collect the data they’ve always collected, but do it faster, more efficiently, and more cost effective with a new automated system.
Improving the efficiency of the data you’ve always collected is a great first step for companies to cut costs and improve efficiency, but field service software can serve you in other ways. This post takes you through phase 1 of field service data collection and introduces you to new ways you can use data in the field through new, phase 2, data collection methods.
Phase 1: Using Field Service Software to Collect the Data You Need
In this context, “phase 1” refers to the initial reason you invested in field service software: to automate your daily processes and save your company time and money over the long run. Phase 1 is how you use field service software to automate what used to be manual tasks in your company, including data collection that you used to take manually, but which you can now automate digitally.
For example, your company has always needed to track inventory and collect data to inform you when new parts were needed and what parts were being used in the field. Before field service management software, you had to figure out what parts were needed for each job and then prepare the necessary parts for each technician. Field service software, in phase 1, allows you to collect this data with the touch of a button on a mobile device to determine which parts are being used and what’s left in inventory. The automated process drastically cuts the time it takes to collect inventory data and increases accuracy of parts put into the field, in effect, increasing first-time fix rates and customer satisfaction.
Field service software simplifies your processes and makes collecting data you’ve always collected easier and more efficient. But its capabilities exceed even what many companies already investing in it know. Read on to see how you can start collecting data you didn’t even know you could collect and improve your business in innovative and proactive ways.
Phase 2: Using Field Service Software to Collect the Data You Want
The reasons for initially adopting an automated field service solution are good ones: collect data necessary to replace paper forms in the field, decrease time spent on data collection, and increase efficiency in the field.
But, what if you’ve already implemented an automated solution for the data you need to collect? Companies already using field service software don’t need to be reminded how great it is for their everyday processes because they’ve already replaced their manual data collection methods with automated strategies that cut the use of paper and eliminate unnecessary time spent collecting data manually.
If this sounds like you, you’re ready for phase 2 of data collection. Phase 2 means going beyond improving current data collection methods by collecting data you’ve never collected before; collecting data you want to have. When you think outside the box of normal data and use the full capabilities of your field service software, your company can raise its business intelligence, improving decision making and producing a more proactive organization.
How to move ahead to Phase 2
Knowing what data you’re going to collect and what you’ll do with the data are as important as collecting it in the first place. Often, companies don’t even know they’re having problems until they see the data, which is why it can be so valuable. Data provides actionable information which allows businesses to identify trends, opportunities, and threats that force them to reexamine their assumptions.
It’s important to have a plan in place for turning your company into a data-driven field service operation. The following three steps outline how you can begin using phase 2 data collection to improve efficiency and, ultimately, increase profitability:
1. Plan—make a plan for what you wish you knew about your organization and map steps that would make that knowledge visible.
2. Measure—use your field service software to measure the data you set out in your plan.
3. Analyze—once you’ve collected the data, analyze it. Figure out what you could be doing better to improve the results of the data.
After going through the steps above and making necessary adjustments to fix the situation, service executives can then point to specific business outcomes that could be improved based on the results of the data, such as:
- Customer satisfaction
- Reduced cost of service
- Increased revenues from service
Phase 2 Examples
1. Customer satisfaction surveys
If you’re looking to boost your customer satisfaction rating, what better way than to get feedback directly from your customers? With your field service automation system, you can create a survey on your technicians’ mobile devices for customers to fill out after service is complete. The answers from the surveys could be stored and integrated with the larger system. Soon you will begin to accumulate data and percentages directly from customer feedback. You can categorize and analyze this data to determine your strengths in the field and where you are lacking in meeting customer demands. Having this data will put you ahead of other companies who take their customer satisfaction for granted. You can be proactive by interpreting the data and making improvements where necessary. After some time, you will be able to track whether your adjustments are working and improving customer satisfaction in that area. With tools like automated customer satisfaction surveys you can easily collect data to help you not only run your business effectively, but proactively predict how to run your business better.
2. Competitive information
When your technicians walk into a room full of equipment, it would be useful for them to note where most of that equipment is from. For example, if you’re servicing a hospital generator from your company, but you notice there are several other brands of equipment there, it would be useful to track where that other equipment is from and why the hospital went with those brands instead of yours. If each of your technicians documented and took pictures of all competitor equipment they come across, you could determine the most popular brands and try to figure out how to market your brand to beat them out. Use a task tracking feature on the mobile device to analyze why businesses are choosing other equipment over yours. You can then use that information to determine how to meet customer demands and market and develop your equipment to meet those demands.
3. SWOT Analysis
Because of the high volume of work, and the thousands of field visits per month, service industries lend themselves to being data-driven. Small adjustments multiplied across an entire fleet of technicians can make major improvements. Performing a SWOT analysis—using data to measure your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats—can be a great way to break down your current performance and determine small changes that will lead to large improvements. This sort of data-driven analysis breaks down barriers of information access by providing visibility into how well the company is actually performing and leading to more confident business decisions backed by data.
4. Growth plans
With the use of mobile technology, technicians can gauge the growth potential of the company they are servicing and then predict whether that company’s need for their service will change over time. For example, if a technician is servicing equipment at Home Depot, he can collect information about Home Depot’s status, input that information into the mobile system, and later use the data collected to determine growth plans for their future business relationship with Home Depot. This strategy will make field service companies more proactive by allowing them to predict where they’ll be getting future business and whether their current contracts will grow or shrink.
5. Customers recommend additional prospects
This may seem like a simple step, but if technicians are reminded on their mobile device to ask customers to recommend prospects that would benefit from their services, they can record those prospects in the device and refer to it later when the sales team is looking to engage new prospects. If all technicians in the company are asking for recommendations, the system can keep a tally of what companies are mentioned and be able to approach potential customers, which this data shows, will already know would be a good fit. Keeping track of compatible potential customers makes the process of selling services easier and more customer centric. If you can figure out who would most benefit from your services and why, you can approach those companies with the confidence that you are the best fit for them according to other companies in the industry in which you are servicing.
Benefits of Employing Phase 2 Data Collection
By employing the power of the field workforce for data collection, field service companies can get real-time feedback concerning projects and equipment they are currently working on. This real-time feedback produces relevant and actionable information that can be used to make the company more proactive.
By using data to drive optimization strategies, your operational efficiency will begin to rise in relation to your peers. Once you’ve established what sort of performance you expect, you can use data to determine whether you’re meeting those expectations; and, if you’re not, prescribe remedies that will enable you to meet them in the future. By using data to benchmark yourself in the field, you can easily translate findings into action.
It’s more important than ever for field service organizations to have strategies in place to measure their operational efficiency, and becoming data driven is the best way to make those measurements clear and actionable. Once you begin to make data a bigger part of your business decisions, you’ll want even more of it. You’ll see that the information gained by collecting Phase 2 data will boost your company to the top of its industry, improving your customer ratings, and eventually, increasing profits.
7 Best Practices for Choosing New field Service Software
There are plenty of reasons that service organizations review, purchase and implement new field service management software. Regardless of what situations force your service organization to that tipping point, there are several tried and true methods you can use to organize the buying process, eliminate the unexpected and significantly increase your chances of success with your new software.
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