3 Tech Trends Shaping Field Services

Here’s what specialty contractors can do to accelerate teams and exceed customer expectations.

By Don Lewis, Verizon Connect
Equipping your field service business for success
Specialty contractors providing field services to customers face new challenges on a daily basis. Expectations and the growing influence of online reviews, increased technical complexity, and competition for customers can pressure even the best-run companies—large and small.
The good news is that powerful digital tools to help address these issues are getting smarter, more easily integrated, and easier to use than ever. Specialty contractors that embrace these developments can seize new opportunities to streamline and grow their businesses and give their customers the five-star experiences they expect.
In this article, we explore three technology trends influencing the field service landscape—automation, data-based decision making and system integration—and explain the benefits field service businesses can realize by capitalizing on the tools and systems that make these trends work for them.

Common field service management challenges

Field service teams are always on the go. Scheduling, communication and delivering great customer service can be difficult enough when all employees and work are located in the same building. Spread them out over a wide service area, and these tasks take on new levels of complexity. Unexpected changes such as customer cancellations, worker sick days, vehicle maintenance issues and accidents can wreak havoc  on an otherwise orderly day.

Mobile businesses can struggle with a number of operational challenges in the field, on the road and in the back office:

  • Scheduling – For many companies, daily scheduling is still done via paper or whiteboard, which can be inefficient and unadaptable when changes inevitably occur.
  • Dispatch – Without multiple phone calls, it can be challenging to plan work assignments based on where technicians are located and confirm customer appointments to avoid workers arriving to a no-show.
  • Communication – It can be difficult to facilitate real-time communication with workers who are spread over a wide service area and focused on their jobs. It’s likewise difficult to confirm that changes to work orders have been seen by all parties—technicians, back-office workers, dispatch and customers.
  • Customer Service – Today’s customers expect simplicity and transparency. Scheduling, dispatch and communication challenges can result in poor customer experiences, and poor experiences can lead to bad online reviews.

Trend 1:  Automation

Today’s customers want their interactions with companies to be digital and easy. For field service companies, a truly digital experience is in growing demand. Customers are used to doing just about anything online, and many field service customers want to receive communications, updates and ETAs by text.

In reality, scheduling can be time-consuming and inefficient, often conducted on whiteboards or shared online calendars that are not built for the specific needs of field service companies. When a change occurs, whiteboards and phone tag with field techs are far from ideal. Techs in the field, with limited visibility, often can’t keep up with scheduling changes. Missed messages can mean missed appointments. And that’s bad news for customers, businesses and employees.

Today this process can be streamlined by integrating automated scheduling and dispatch software with cloud-based fleet management. This approach provides a central scheduling and communications hub, where on-the-fly scheduling decisions can be made based on near real-time location of technician vehicles. When a change is made to the schedule, techs can be notified automatically and acknowledge the change with a tap on their mobile device.

 Trend 2: Data-based decision making

New digital tools, such as fleet tracking and field service management software, give field service organizations access to data that can help improve their decision making. Businesses that use the data available to them can open up new possibilities for efficiency, savings and improved customer service.

Enhanced visibility into your business in real time and over time is a primary benefit of cloud-based monitoring and management systems. Integrated fleet tracking and field service management software provides near real-time tools and intuitive reports that can help:

This data can provide reliable insight into how resources are being utilized, what demand currently looks like and how long it will take for jobs to be completed. Actionable data can help businesses respond more quickly to trends, improve productivity and deliver a higher level of service to customers.

Trend 3: Software and system integration

Learning new software and switching back and forth between systems are frustrations that sometimes deter field service companies from fully embracing the technologies that can help them improve their business. Today, software is becoming more integrated, intuitive and easy to use.

On their own, cloud-based systems, such as fleet tracking and field service management software, provide powerful tools that can help improve efficiency, productivity, cost savings, and even technician safety and customer satisfaction. Integrated into a single platform, these tools can provide even greater benefits by centralizing management of all mobile workforce-related functions and resources: vehicle, job assignments and technicians.

Integrating these technologies  creates a world where vehicle location data can trigger job-delay notifications to dispatchers if a worker is still at a job or stuck in traffic. And dispatchers can toggle between the live map and scheduler to react more quickly to emergency jobs, customer cancellations and other last-minute changes. The result of these integrations can be:

 

Introducing Field Service Dispatch for Reveal

Field Service Dispatch for Reveal is an intelligent, easy-to-use scheduling and dispatch solution that allows dispatchers to manage their entire fleet and technician jobs all in one place. It seamlessly integrates with the Verizon Connect Reveal fleet tracking platform to centralize management of all mobile workforce-related functions and resources, including vehicles, job assignments and technicians.

With Field Service Dispatch for Reveal, you can schedule and manage jobs, dispatch them to techs in the field, and provide better ETAs to customers.

Streamline your field service operation.

Field service dispatch technology sets up your field service fleet for success by improving productivity and efficiency. The latest tools help service fleets streamline resource allocation to better serve customers. To find out how Field Service Dispatch from Verizon Connect can support your field service needs, contact Don Lewis, Field Marketing Manager at donald.lewis@verizonconnect.com, call 858.465.7986 or visit www.verizonconnect.com.

1“A State of Service Briefing: Workforce and Fleet Management in Field Service,” Aberdeen, October 2018

²https://www.salesforce.com/au/blog/2019/04/state-of-service–2019-s-changing-customer-service-trends.html

³How Today’s Investments Shape Tomorrow’s Field Service Landscape,” Aberdeen, Nov. 2017

4How Today’s Investments Shape Tomorrow’s Field Service Landscape,” Aberdeen, Nov. 2017