"Field services" is a buzzword that simply means the delivery of services to customers that happens outside your office - services out on the road. That's why managing a successful field service business can sometimes feel like competing in the Formula 1, driving blindfolded at high speed. It might seem like you're in the race and getting somewhere fast, but are you ahead of the competition? Are you heading for another win? Or are you about to get thrown off by a chicane you didn't see coming?
When you're in the hot seat, managing a service business is full on. Bookings are flying in and customers are wanting things done now. But when you're using spreadsheets and manual processes, you don't have visibility of your field staff, whether they're on their way to the next job or how much more bandwidth they have. As those bookings keep racing in, your business can struggle to meet the demand. Sound familiar?
Here are the biggest 5 roadblocks that service businesses are seeing - and some tips on how technology can help burst through them.
1. Communication issues can get out of hand
Every business struggles with communication at some point but for companies with teams out on the road, it can be an extra spanner in the works. For every job, there's the chance for your staff to mishear an address as they're jotting it down on a post-it, and for both staff and customers to miss a call or to be late for the appointment.
Making communications clear can be easier than you might think. Social apps like Slack and Whatsapp have set the standard for easy-to-use, real-time digital comms. But these kind of apps aren't really designed for business and need your customers to download those third-party apps.
Using Facebook Messenger can be a quick win - simply because so many people already use the app. It can cut through that roadblock of needing customers to install yet another app and help keep communications digital. The "share my location" feature can also be pretty handy.
You can always take your communications one step further with a completely web-based mobile platform that doesn't even require an app - but also manages all booking details, communications and updates in the one place. Find out what it is at the end of this article!
"Using Facebook Messenger can be a quick win - simply because so many people already use the app. It can cut through that roadblock of needing customers to install yet another app and help keep communications digital."
2. Lack of quality checks
Good quality is good for business. If your work is good enough to keep your customers coming back, it will boost your ongoing revenue and cash flow. Word of mouth referrals from customers who've had quality work can also earn you a lot of new business. Your bottom line also gets an upgrade because you don't need to redo shoddy jobs or waste time re-checking work.
No matter how good your field service team is, it can be just about impossible to keep track of work quality standards, to make sure all customers are getting the same level of service, and know the overall impression customers have of your business.
Some easy technologies are available to help your field staff record how good their work is. They can take photos of work before and after completion and upload them to business cloud systems like Dropbox or Google Drive to keep a record. They can also use apps like Microsoft OneNote or Google Keep to take notes about a customer's feedback and review it with you when they're back in the office. This can be a good way to uncover opportunities to improve the customer experience and know what future training they could benefit from to get a better balance between quality and speed of work.
The benefits of sophisticated quality management systems are many but be careful to get the balance right between cost and benefit.
3. Onsite changes are hard to manage
So, you've taken a booking online or over the phone, sent someone out to do the job, and everything seems pretty well organised. Then, your service person gets on site and things take a turn like they're in that Fomula 1 car, blindfolded again. There are items missing from the original scope of works that the customer needs, there are important details from the customer that haven't been captured, or some extra parts are required.
Your service guy doesn't know whether he should call someone or just do his best and get on with the job.
Not having the flexibility you need to handle changes quickly can waste your company's time and your customer's time. It can also hurt your bottom line by increasing job costs and creating a bad customer experience - which also leads to negative word of mouth getting out there.
Look to give your team the tools to roll with the punches, make decisions on the fly and quickly turn it into "job done" so they can move onto the next appointment. Think about getting systems in place that give access to your full parts list and make it quick and easy to communicate between supervisors, staff and customers. Most of all, look for systems that help make your customers happy by meeting their needs and being able to sort out changes as quickly as possible. Riyo is a mobile-first solution that does exactly this.
"Not having the flexibility you need to handle changes quickly can waste your company's time and your customer's time. It can also hurt your bottom line by increasing job costs and creating a bad customer experience - which also leads to negative word of mouth getting out there."
4. Manual business process slow you down
Every field service business needs to take bookings, schedule jobs, route workers and invoice customers. But it can end up creating a lot of paperwork. All those tasks can mean increased staff training requirements, bringing on more staff, and slowing down operations, and your company growth, as your team gets bogged down with the repetitive, manual workload.
You know who loves repetitive, manual tasks though? Software that's focused on automation - like Riyo. Automating the boring back-office workload can give you improved labour efficiency, increased profitability as you free up your resources for more revenue-generating activities, and save everyone a whole lot of time and effort.
5. The software solutions you've thought about don't support mobile
So, you've either realised it before even reading this article, or maybe by the end of it. You need to start using technology solutions to scale your business and be even more successful. The problem is, a lot of the software that's out there for field service businesses was made for desktop computers. Some of them have mobile functionality but it's limited. Having a limited feature-set on mobile means that your field staff will be limited.
Let's face it; in 2019 technology should be just like your field service business - all about being mobile. There are software solutions out there that are built from the ground up as a mobile-first platform. Riyo is one such field service management solution. It's made for mobile and can do a tonne of things including:
- Make your business scalable and quickly respond to changes in demand - whether that's seasonal, industry or unexpected changes
- Streamline communications, handling everything through the web-based platform that opens in a mobile browser
- Help you increase revenue through on-site upsells during service jobs
- Deliver complete visibility of jobs and resources in real-time
- Give your team a powerful but simple platform to turn service jobs into "job done"
"Let's face it, in 2019, technology should be just like your field service business - all about being mobile. There are software solutions out there that are built from the ground up as a mobile-first platform."
Stop putting up with roadblocks
Field service businesses can be tough to manage and even tougher to scale but - if you don't have the right tools for the job. The technology is available right now that can help you take the blindfold off and get complete visibility. It can help deliver an awesome customer experience with all communications handled by the one, mobile-first platform. It can make on-site job changes a cinch and automate those repetitive, manual tasks that are slowing your business down. It can remove the roadblocks to scaling your business and letting you see the business success you want. It's here now and it's called Riyo.
Ready to see how Riyo can remove the roadblocks to your business success?
See the 90-second overview video or simply get in touch with a Riyo solution specialist on 1800 528 783 (AU) or +65 6233 5620 (SG). The team of service management experts works across the entire APAC region.