The Australian field service industry has had many ups and downs throughout 2021. Obstacles like the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to furlough their staff or even shut down operations for good. However, these circumstances also gave organisations the opportunity to innovate and adapt their field service management strategies. Here are six trends driving field service management businesses today:
Customer experiences become more critical to success
Providing rich customer experiences is vital to beating the competition and establishing a trustworthy brand. In field services, this means technicians should be experienced, punctual and capable of fixing an issue the first time. Improving customer experiences also involves simplifying appointment scheduling and generating accurate invoices on-site once the job is completed.
The most effective way for field service businesses to meet these expectations is to incorporate various technologies. They need HR systems to find qualified technicians and project management software to make sure jobs are done right. Modern businesses also need communication software, scheduling tools, and accounting apps to make client-facing processes as seamless as possible.
Widespread use of field service management software
The days of using disjointed, paper-based systems to manage field workers are long gone. Instead, many companies now rely on integrated, cloud-based field service management software to handle all aspects of their operations. Digital processes are infinitely more efficient because there are no physical documents to manage and there’s less manual data entry involved. In fact, going paperless leads to fewer mistakes, faster service turnaround times, and of course, reduced paper waste.
Leading platforms like WorkBuddy also offer a host of game-changing features:
- Work order management – When companies receive a service request, the field service software automatically processes the requirements and creates a work order ready to be assigned. Teams can then monitor job progress on operational dashboards.
- Automated scheduling – Dispatch managers can instantly get a shortlist of technicians for a service request based on their skill set, location, and availability. Field service management also decreases a technician’s time on the road by planning the quickest route to the job site.
- Accounting integrations – Businesses can sync their financial data with accounting software to accurately quote jobs, invoice clients, and manage cash flow.
- Safety and compliance – Companies can use job forms and checklists to make sure technicians fulfil their jobs per contractual and safety standards.
- Business analytics – All data collected by the company is stored in a central database where managers can review field service KPIs to make smarter business decisions.
Self-service client portals
Clients expect to have visibility over their work orders and service requests. They want instant access to appointment calendars, technician ETAs, and job progress to make sure everything is running smoothly. In the past, field service businesses would provide these updates via email or phone call, but this was highly inefficient.
Today, top companies meet their client’s expectations through self-service client portals. With self-service portals, clients can make service requests and communicate with technicians. They get job updates displayed on an intuitive dashboard and can even track their technician’s location in real-time. Client portals also provide FAQs, service information, and direct invoicing channels. By being fully transparent with clients, businesses can establish strong relationships built on trust. Plus, self-service portals save customer service reps from handling simple queries so they can focus on answering more complex calls.
Fully remote operations
During the COVID-19 lockdowns, Australian field service companies had to adapt by operating remotely. Processes like job planning, scheduling, financial management, and other administrative tasks were done over mobile devices thanks to cloud technology. This meant that field managers and technicians could do their work in safe, isolated environments instead of crowded workspaces.
Even as coronavirus restrictions ease, it’s clear that remote work will continue to be the norm for field service organisations. When remote technicians have access to work schedules at their fingertips, they don’t have to pick up work orders from the dispatch desk. They can even communicate with contractors, route their destinations, and access to-do lists, all from their mobile device. Having this much flexibility also means technicians aren’t confined to do admin in the office, increasing their productivity and lowering the risk of burnout.
Shift to predictive maintenance
Rather than reacting to breakdowns as they occur, field service companies are adopting a predictive approach to minimise outages. Predictive maintenance entails using internet-connected sensors on equipment to detect and alert field service companies when there’s a potential issue.
Critical infrastructure and utility organisations benefit the most from field service companies that offer predictive maintenance. For example, embedding sensors on drainage systems allows maintenance teams to monitor assets in real-time and predict faults. If there are potential signs of breakage, such as leaks or cracked pipes, that information can be automatically transmitted as a maintenance work order to the most qualified technician. Essentially, predictive maintenance enables field services to anticipate client needs and reduce outages.
Greater focus on risk management
Safety risks are par for the course in field service work. On any given day, field technicians can suffer serious injuries from overexertion, slipping hazards, dangerous chemicals, sun exposure, and more. Companies that fail to address these risks can receive penalties for noncompliance with safety regulations and expensive claims for workers’ compensation. Productivity levels also plummet due to injuries and technicians may leave companies if they don’t feel safe. What’s more, poor risk management can damage business relationships with partners and clients.
That’s why it’s more important than ever for field service organizations to ensure workplace health and safety. The best way to achieve this is to promote safe habits using job forms and checklists. Job forms can be used to guide technicians through site inspections and risk assessments throughout the job. Meanwhile, checklists modelled after safe work method statements can help technicians meet their safety obligations. These obligations may include wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, having the right certifications to operate heavy machinery, and even practising proper lifting form.
If you want your field service business to stay ahead of the curve, implementing WorkBuddy is the key to your success. Book a demo today to see how our solution improves customer experiences, reduces risk, and increases efficiency.