Today, everyone wants field service technicians to be more things. No longer are they simply workers who come to a customer, install or fix the equipment on the work order and then leave.
Now field techs are customer experience agents, sales reps, troubleshooting experts—even the face of the brand—in addition to their technical roles. Customers ask them how the upgrade they’re getting will affect their monthly bill, and “I don’t know, but you can call our customer support line” is no longer an acceptable answer.
Customers expect techs to deliver better and broader service. Accommodating those expectations requires businesses to equip their techs to handle a widening scope of functions, quickly and easily. At the same time, businesses need to know the mean time to repair (MTTR) and first-time fix rate (FTFR), among other key metrics.
That’s why a versatile field service mobile app is critical to field service operations. For businesses with a smaller fleet, or those just launching field service ops, a good mobile platform (rather than an FSM scheduling and routing solution) might even be their starting point. But every business, from cable/telco to warranty service, needs a platform that sets their mobile workers up for success.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD FIELD SERVICE MOBILE APP IN TODAY’S ENVIRONMENT?
What capabilities does the platform need to offer mobile workers? CSG has been providing field service management (FSM) solutions for more than 20 years, and we support more than 100,000 field service users every day. We also see where customer demands are heading in this area, and we believe these are the must-have capabilities in an FSM mobile platform:
1. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Mobile knowledge management tools have become a priority for almost every field service operation. According to a recent WBR survey, 59 percent of respondents are using them, and 27 percent plan to in the next 12 months—and for good reason.
The report goes on to explain that, as experienced techs are aging out of the workforce, new techs and contractors need to step up and operate like veterans. With mobile knowledge management platforms can give novice techs the resources to learn on the job while making certain fixes for the first time.
- Updates for techs about trending issues in equipment they service
- Quick access to equipment history and site details for each job (e.g., list of equipment customer has, or recently had installed or removed)
- Collaboration channels (e.g., chat) with other techs or dispatchers
2. CUSTOMER COMMUNICATIONS
When a customer’s service appointment gets pushed back an hour, it’s less upsetting when they learn about it ASAP. But instead of tasking techs with calling and texting customers with these updates, their mobile platform should be sending them—often by integrating with your organization’s customer-facing digital communication tools.
- Automated ETA updates to the customer
- Automated post-appointment messaging (e.g., customer satisfaction surveys and information about newly-installed equipment)
- Remote visual support enabling techs to troubleshoot using real-time video and augmented reality (AR)
3. STREAMLINED DOCUMENTATION
Entering time, task, parts and expenses is a foundational function of an FSM solution, and your time-strapped techs need a mobile platform that makes this documentation as frictionless as possible.
- Minimized manual work in time, task, parts and expense entry
- Integrated photo taking and video recording (such as to record the before/after of a job or the worksite)
4. GPS NAVIGATION & TELEMATICS
You need to rest assured that every tech is getting to each job using the best possible route. That’s why GPS navigation is a must-have for any field service mobile app, especially when it automatically updates according to schedule changes and real-time traffic analysis.
- Real-time traffic and route optimization
- Real-time driver location sharing (both for the organization to monitor the fleet and for customers to see how far away their incoming tech is)
How tightly can the mobile application integrate to your organization’s internal and external systems? The extensibility of the app can determine how much efficiency your field service operations ultimately gain from it, not to mention the timeline required to implement it.
- Updating data in downstream applications (not just reading data from them)
The ideal mobile platform for your organization should have the capabilities mentioned above, plus some value-adding features below. Bear in mind, in a few years these features will likely go from being “nice-to-haves” to essentials as they become more widely used.
INTUITIVE USER INTERFACE
So far this list has been about functionality, but unless your field service mobile app has a modern look and feel, it will be a tough sell to your workers who need to use it every day.
When techs have questions in the field, an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled virtual assistant can supply answers (through voice or chat) without them having to wait for an available senior tech or dispatcher. Techs can also use a virtual assistant to quickly handle other functions like parts ordering.
PURCHASING AND POS
An app that enables your field techs to accept payment can open up a revenue stream for your business. A point-of-sale (POS) system allows them to quote and sell new equipment installs or upgrades while they’re having that valuable face-to-face interaction with customers.
As your organization makes changes in field operations workflow, the mobile app needs to reflect those changes, and you don’t want to wait months for those updates. Look for a platform that lets your in-house teams easily configure and adjust complex workflows with new fields, processes or functionality without you having to request a third party to do it. This is especially helpful if you need to quickly adapt to changing regulations or statutes.
DO YOUR MOBILE WORKERS HAVE THE TOOLS THEY NEED?
Here’s something to think about as you assess the capabilities of your field service mobile app (or a potential replacement for it): a good platform doesn’t just help you compete for customers. It helps you compete for talent.
Thirty-eight percent of trade, transportation and utility workers said they were at least “somewhat likely” to quit their jobs in the next 3-6 months, according to a McKinsey survey. The “Great Resignation,” combined with the looming skills gap in the field service industry, makes it as pressing as ever for organizations to retain talent. While these are broad issues, anything you can do to improve the employee experience—including equipping them with mobile tools that set them up for success—will be high priority this year.
Want to know how far along other field service organizations are with using emerging technology? Check out this free report from WBR on future-proofing your field service business model.