The field service landscape is changing as quickly as the technology that powers it. The field service workforce is a mix of full-time employees, part-time employees, and contractors working independent schedules, and managers rightfully expect the software they use to accommodate this complexity. As the technology evolves, field service management (FSM), already a $1.78 billion category of software, is expected to grow to more than $3.5 billion by 2021.
Companies that want to compete in the new field service landscape need to find new ways to keep employees connected. They need tools that allow them to connect seamlessly with other employees, the back office, and other data collection systems.
As with other industries, field service providers are finding that the marketplace is more competitive than at any time in the past. There’s less room for error than ever before—including no-shows, late arrivals, double bookings, or “estimated service windows” that leave customers waiting around for hours on end. Consumers know it doesn’t have to be that way. They know what reliable, on-demand, on-time service looks like, and they don’t see why they should accept anything less.
Basic metrics like employee utilization and windshield time were a main focus for field service providers in the past, but no more. Field service providers need to track data that show:
- How employees are meeting customer expectations and needs in the field
- How operations staff is handling scheduling and administrative tasks
- How overhead expenses are affecting revenue
- How performance, expenses, and efficiency are trending over time
- How processes align with business goals and priorities
However, collecting this kind of data—and putting it into practice for your workforce—requires the right FSM tool to tie everything together.
The Evolution of Field Service Management (FSM)
This field service revolution is driven by larger changes in how, where, and when we work. Today’s field service industry includes more than just technicians and service repair workers: it encompasses a much larger umbrella of deskless workers who deliver services in healthcare, education, and more.”
The U.S. mobile workforce is projected to grow from 96.2 million to 105.4 million from 2015 to 2020—accounting for nearly 75% of the total U.S. workforce.
This upward surge is driven by cost, technology, and competition:
- Cost is always a factor, and improving field service efficiency can offer enormous savings. Companies have started to invest in mobile workforce management tools, which offer the data collection, analysis, and insights needed to cut costs.
- Technology advancements mean more real-time communication through smartphones, mobile apps, GPS devices, and more. Field technicians can now get updated schedules, urgent notifications, and important data wherever they are, resulting in a more interconnected workforce with real-time communications that was almost unthinkable just a few years ago.
- Competition has gotten stiffer, and field service providers find themselves competing not only with others offering similar services, but every other brand the customer interacts with. These days, the customer’s “last best experience”—not their “next best alternative” dictates their expectations for you and your service. Customers expect more from the companies they do business with, which means the bar is higher for everyone.
FSM software itself is growing and expanding in new ways. Modern field service management touches multiple industries—perhaps some that you wouldn’t even expect. As the analysts at Gartner point out, FSM is shaking up healthcare, non-profit, solar energy, and plenty of other fields in the move toward a more mobile workforce.
The Problem with Traditional Field Service Tools
Organizations look to field service management for certain benefits: increased efficiency, less reliance on paper-based systems, more visibility into day-to-day operations, and more time spent servicing customers.
Traditional field service tools help with some pain points. However, they tend to bring up some pain points of their own. Here are a few common problems with traditional FSM tools:
Too many tools are built for the operations team, not for the field technician. Mobile workers have to jump through hoops, log onto special systems, or use a specialized device to communicate with other employees or management. The back office may see increased efficiency from the system, but your mobile workforce is not getting a tool to support them in their work. In fact, it may simply further complicate matters.
Some FSM systems still require paperwork, manual check-ins, updates in spreadsheets, or other redundant tasks. Sometimes these manual tasks are part of the system itself, and sometimes manual tasks are added to the company’s process to make up for gaps in the FSM system. When follow-up visits, invoicing, or other next steps depend on manual data entry, job details get lost and customer service suffers. Modern FSM requires simple, automated data collection for all your business tasks—not just some. Whether it’s a customer signature, a feedback form, or an expense report, your system should automatically collect and store the information needed for those tasks so you can get on with your business.
A field service system that doesn’t share real-time data is too slow for today’s business environment. Information should be shared back and forth as it happens—including signatures, photos, employee locations, and more—so your business loses no time due to communications delays. This type of instant data transfer is crucial for seamless customer service; for example, if an appointment is cancelled, management needs a quick way to reassign the job, contact everyone involved, and distribute up-to-date schedules so other customers don’t suffer.
Too Focused on Filling Timeslots
Too many FSM systems have scheduling engines that focus exclusively on filling open time slots for field techs. This is a consequence of the fact that improving utilization has long been the top priority of field service providers. As the competitive environment has shifted, sophisticated companies are realizing they cannot grow by only scheduling for utilization to the detriment of other business goals. Scheduling for customer preferences, improved onboarding, or for multiple teams working complex, overlapping projects are objectives that most FSM systems simply cannot accommodate. A modern system should be able to pivot to other priorities—and change scheduling and dispatching needs accordingly—when business needs change.
Not Precise Enough
Every FSM system can match an available employee to an unfilled job, but can it account for sophisticated needs like level of experience, qualifications, travel time, language preference, and past interactions with the customer? If not, the system doesn’t have the precision you need to stay competitive. Customers aren’t interested in repeating their problem, needs, and expectations over and over again to the customer service agent on the phone, then the person who shows up at their door, and again when scheduling a follow up appointment. Invest in a system that gives everyone in the process access to the appropriate customer data and can schedule specific appointment times around the customer’s needs. These types of personalized experiences are what make the difference to customers in today’s marketplace.
Your FSM solution can’t exist in a vacuum; in order to be effective, it must integrate with the other systems and tools your business relies on. When a mobile field service management system doesn’t work with your CRM or other existing systems, it results in redundancies and errors. According to Gartner, more than 40% of field service work will be performed by contract technicians by 2020, making it imperative to have one system that can handle employees and contractors—or at the very least, a system that integrates seamlessly with your contractor management system.
First-Time Fix Failures
Unprepared employees are a huge issue for customer satisfaction: up to 57% of field service organizations report that most customer complaints come from poor first-time resolution or an inability to resolve issues. More often than not, being unprepared is a result of not having all the necessary background info about a job—and more often than not, this lack of context comes from a lack of data from the FSM system. Make sure your field service tools make it easy for mobile workers to get the information they need on the customer’s needs, customer history, and necessary equipment or supplies.
Focused on Equipment, Not Customers
FSM systems have for years been focused on optimizing the upkeep of goods or equipment that a business sells or owns. FSM systems were purpose-built for businesses whose primary business drivers are their physical products, like manufacturing, utilities, telecommunications, and infrastructure. Unfortunately, this meant that the customer’s needs and preferences took a backseat to marginal improvements in utilization and reductions in windshield time. With the new, customer-centric marketplace and imperative to meet customers’ needs first to stay competitive, an FSM system that treats the customer as a secondary, or even tertiary, concern will not support business growth.
The Skedulo Approach to Field Service Management
With so many field service issues to tackle, finding a comprehensive, user-friendly solution is a tall order—but Skedulo is up to the challenge.
The Skedulo platform delivers an all-in-one field service solution for truly modern field service operations. Our system manages your mobile workforce, customer preferences, scheduling, dispatching, and communication needs, all in one streamlined system.
The Skedulo approach to FSM delivers the critical value of traditional field service systems while putting the people that make your business possible–customers and mobile workers–at the front of decision making.
Alignment With Key Business Goals
Efficient field service management means knowing what’s going on with your team throughout the day, then using that data to drive toward key business goals. Skedulo makes it easy to collect data from the field and automatically integrate it with your CRM or system of choice.
Once you have this data in one simple platform, you can use it to focus on specific business priorities, such as:
- Reducing expenses and overhead costs
- Improving customer satisfaction
- Improving employee satisfaction and retention
- Growing your customer base
With the Skedulo platform, you can collect data on everything from field service productivity to customer satisfaction. This offers insights into trends that may otherwise go unnoticed.
For example, say you are reviewing job completion rates and average time spent at the job site. One employee seems to take 50% longer to complete an standard job than their colleagues, but their job completion rate is in line with the average. After investigating the issue, you learn the mobile worker has been taking some unnecessary steps that are dragging out the appointment process.
If your priority is cost reduction, sit down with the worker and explain the quicker, more efficient way of handling the appointment. This allows the worker to get back on the road and see more customers, increasing the number of appointments per day.
If your priority is customer satisfaction, dig deeper to see if this longer appointment process results in higher customer satisfaction. If so, consider adding elements of this customer-centric process to other mobile workers’ workflow.
If your priority is employee satisfaction and retention, dig deeper to see how these longer customer interactions affect employee satisfaction. Is the employee spending longer with customers because it results in a better all-around experience? Or are they frustrated by taking too long at certain appointments? Depending on their answer, prioritize what will make employees the most satisfied with their work.
Collects and Simplifies the Data You Need
In today’s competitive environment, the field service organizations that embrace their data will survive. Skedulo is designed to simplify and streamline data collection so you can:
- Track mobile workers in real-time
- Automatically collect reimbursables like mileage and expenses
- Simplify (and automate) invoicing and sales processes
- Automatically collect signatures, photos, paperwork, and other field notes
- Easily choose the best person or team for the job based on your business goals
- Reduce manual work to improve administrative efficiency
- Analyze field service productivity
- Predict future staffing needs and trends
- Produce intelligent reports
Skedulo integrates seamlessly with Salesforce and ServiceNow, and our independent platform can connect to any system of record, giving you the connectivity and data integrity you need for your field service operation.
Driven by a Powerful Scheduling Engine
The Skedulo platform is designed to identify, schedule, and dispatch the ideal worker to the job. Our scheduling engine can account for a wide range of variables, including:
- Travel costs
- Customer preferences
- Past experience
Skedulo gives you the tools to set precise appointment times, not “estimated service windows” that keep customers waiting around. The scheduling engine automatically factors in travel requirements and other constraints to ensure that appointment times are precise and accurate.
Skedulo is an adaptable platform with advanced scheduling features that meet the needs of your business: push job offers to multiple available workers, drag-and-drop appointments into the right time slot, or organize them into Gantt charts for more visibility.
Once your appointment time is set, Skedulo helps you distribute updated schedules at the touch of a button. Update everyone instantly—whether they’re in the office or out in the field—to reduce downtime and prevent miscommunication.
With more precise scheduling and more insight into how your mobile workers are providing service, you can schedule more jobs in a day and move between appointments more quickly. This maximizes the time your workers spend with customers, where you deliver the true value of your service.
Designed with Customers in Mind
The customer experience can make or break your business, especially when your service is delivered in customers’ homes and offices. According to PWC:
- 43% of consumers will pay more for greater convenience.
- 42% of consumers will pay more for a friendly experience.
- 65% of U.S. customers say a positive brand experience is more influential than great advertising.
The power of a great customer experience is undeniable, and Skedulo is distinctive from other solutions because it is designed with your customers in mind. The tools in Skedulo, such as scheduling by customer preference or relationship history, and highlighting contextual customer data at the moment it is most useful, tangibly enhances the customer experience. The result is fewer unprepared employees, fewer customers left waiting around, fewer unnecessary follow-up visits, and fewer misunderstandings about who is supposed to be where.
Skedulo sets your employees up for success with:
- Precise appointment times
- Seamless connection to customer data systems
- Simple, intuitive mobile data collection
- Sophisticated job matching criteria
When customers are greeted by friendly, prepared workers who have everything they need to complete the job the first time, customer satisfaction improves—and so does your brand reputation.
Manages Contractors and Employees Side-by-Side
Far too many field service groups depend on disconnected systems to manage the unique needs of independent contractors and employees, which contributes to confusion and rework across the organization. This disconnect will only worsen as contractors make up a larger share of the field service workforce. According to analyst firm Gartner, by 2020, more than 40% of field service work will be performed by technicians who are not employed by the organization that has direct contact with the customer.
The Skedulo platform manages employees AND contractors in one simple system, no add-ons required. With Skedulo, you can handle employees contractors, and agencies the same way—using the same platform—with the same instructions, tools, guidance, and more. Skedulo keeps customer data in a secure, HIPAA-compliant location, while also providing the appropriate access to field workers who need customer information.
With Skedulo, contractors and employees alike can capture field notes, get the data they need, and communicate back and forth in real-time for uninterrupted customer service.
Seamless Integrations and Interoperability
The Lens API brings the power of Skedulo to your most important systems. Skedulo integrates seamlessly with other systems, including payroll, human resources, electronic health records (EHR), and more, so you can stop working from disparate tools.
With the Lens framework of APIs and SDKs, Skedulo’s scheduling tools can integrate into any record system so your data flows across users and systems. Our platform can even be built into custom apps!
Try the Skedulo Field Service Platform for Yourself
Companies in healthcare, nonprofit, and other industries with mobile employees have seen tremendous improvements in capacity, efficiency, and workplace visibility from using Skedulo. Book a demo to try it out for yourself!