Are you looking for ways to save money and improve the efficiency of your field service business? If so, field service automation is a fantastic solution.
Here’s an intro to field service automation and its many advantages. You’ll learn how it improves employee workflow and boosts customer satisfaction. And you’ll get tips for selecting field service automation systems and software.
Intro to Field Service Automation
Field service automation uses technology to reduce repetitive tasks and streamline field operations. It simplifies processes and replaces tedious and time-consuming manual jobs.
Many places in your business’s operation may be ripe for field service automation. It’s like using software programs to do your tax returns and accounting.
Do you use automatic bank payments to take care of recurring charges? Field service automation functions in the same way. But it does so across a much wider range of operational tasks.
Almost every field service industry can use field service management automation. These include:
- Handyman services
- Plumbing and electrical
- Appliance repair
- Landscaping and gardening
- Cleaning and maintenance
- Solar energy consulting
- Garage door installation
Field service automation use: Case No. 1
Let’s look at an example of a field service automation solution. Imagine you run an HVAC company. You have three branches and 50 employees.
Employees perform specific actions every time they finish a furnace or AC repair. They might return to a branch. Or they might call a receptionist for their next dispatch. This wastes fuel and puts unnecessary wear on vehicles. It also reduces the number of clients technicians can see in a day.
Service automation can offer solutions such as mapping a tech’s schedule in advance. Techs can then follow a daily calendar that directs them from one client to the next.
Or they can check in with a customized app to see where to head next after each appointment. This allows for emergency calls or last-minute service requests.
Field service automation use: Case No. 2
Here’s another hypothetical case. Let’s say you run a television and entertainment system installation business. You help clients set up new TVs, sound systems, and gaming components.
You’ve found a cause of wasted resources. You’re sending technicians on calls they could be handling over the phone. Instead of handling 200 customers daily, you only see about 75. That’s a lot of lost revenue!
The right field service automation program could flag unnecessary calls at the start. Each service request gets assigned diagnostic tags. These diagnostic tags then trigger automatic responses. Certain tags alert your techs to schedule a remote service call first.
Your techs may be able to handle most of these issues over the phone or with a video service call. This speeds up and streamlines assisting clients with simple problems, such as:
- Questions about how to use a remote control.
- Reaching a desired screen on their television.
- Integrating streaming platforms or gaming devices into their setup.
Handling these client issues from the office makes the process quick and efficient. It also eliminates costly truck rolls (see more below). And it can double or triple your service call volume for more revenue.
Efficient issue handling also makes customers happy. Resolving their issues over a call removes the hassle associated with home visits. Satisfied customers mean better reviews and more referrals.
You can read more about this in the next section.
What Are the Advantages of Field Service Automation?
Field service companies find many benefits to automating field service. The examples given above show how it makes everyday work schedules more efficient.
Workflow efficiency has a domino effect on other areas of the business. With the right vehicles, equipment, and locations, techs can provide better customer service. This, in turn, increases customer satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction leads to:
- More repeat business. This is low-hanging fruit and more cost-effective than seeking out new customers.
- Increased word-of-mouth referrals. This brings in new clients without increasing your advertising or marketing budget.
- Better online reviews. This lets you stay competitive in your industry and bring in new customers.
- Fewer returns, complaints, and claims. This, in turn, means fewer headaches and less paperwork for staff to fill out.
- Fewer problems with warranties on parts, appliances, devices, and more. This reduces a major concern for field service businesses.
Employees tend to be happier too. This results in improved employee retention and recruitment. You invest a lot to find, hire and train employees, so keeping them is a cost-saving strategy.
As a business owner, you reap the financial benefits of field service automation. Smoother work processes and efficient operation save money.
You cut wasted trips, and the downstream effect is:
- Lower fuel use and costs
- Reduced vehicle wear and tear
- Fewer vehicle accidents
- More appointments during the day
All that helps grow your revenue bit by bit. When you add up the costs saved and extra billable hours, it’s significant.
Still not convinced? Check out these statistics from a recent survey on truck rolls:
- Almost all respondents thought the average truck roll wastes between 5% and 30% of a tech’s time.
- Wasted labor translates to $125-270 per truck roll.
- Up to 75% of emergency truck rolls are avoidable with diagnosis before dispatch.
- Having to return for correct parts was the number two reason for wasted time on a truck roll.
Why You Should Use Field Service Management Software
Field service software is what enables the best field service automation. It reduces human error. Mistakes cost money and result in unhappy customers, sometimes even lawsuits.
Say you operate many business branches. Field service management simplifies this by using software to coordinate and run everything.
Service automation makes organization easier for staff at the office. It also simplifies service delivery by techs. And it assists with things like inventory management, logistics, and notifications for stocking.
Field service management software also enables tech assistance. It enables customer self-service. You can also leverage it to create tickets for staff support. It may also help with remote appointments, eliminating the need for truck rolls.
Many consumers today use the Internet of Things (IoT) appliances and devices. This allows you to perform remote repairs and troubleshooting. Field service software allows you to harness such capabilities.
Are you interested in scaling your business? Field service software programs are ideal for analytics and report production. You can make decisions and predict challenges based on data rather than guesswork.
Some field service automation software uses artificial intelligence to continue optimizing processes. This means your software helps your workflow keep up as your company grows and changes.
What to Look for in a Field Service Automation Solution
What should field service organizations seek in automation solutions, like software? Here are some top suggestions you can use to create a checklist:
This reduces the need for on-site installation. It also improves accessibility from anywhere for techs and management. It makes backup more secure. Cloud computing also means updates are a breeze.
Look for a system that works for your business now as well as in the future. Does your field service automation software meet your present needs? And can it grow with you?
Integrations with current systems
Your automation should make a seamless connection to other programs you’re using. This includes billing, payroll, inventory, outage management, and customer relationship management systems.
Ease of use
Field service automation should be easy for office staff, techs, and managers to use. It should not need coding for updates. An app makes things even more convenient for technicians. Look for solutions that are intuitive to use, with simple navigation.
You don’t have to use field service automation for every aspect of your business right away. Your company can roll it out in phases if that’s easier.
Features for your business model
Choose components that best serve your operation. These might include:
- Asset management for your vehicles and equipment.
- Route optimization for the greatest efficiency when techs are on the road.
- Smart forms, job pricing, and work order management to help with project administration.
- Timecards and mobile workforce tracking for time management.
- Messaging, in-app calls, and video conferencing are helpful.
- Customer notifications and feedback components that improve service and satisfaction.