Mobile in the Enterprise

How To Use Mobile To Connect and Manage Your Field Service Team

February 21, 2013

  • Aric Roush

Just about everyone has had it happen to them before.  Your furnace has broken.  Naturally, it is the middle of winter during the coldest stretch in the last three years.  You, being a caring spouse and parent reach out to Bob’s HVAC Co., your friendly neighborhood heating and air conditioning repair company, and request an emergency service appointment to have someone come by to diagnose and fix the problem.  “No problem!” the customer service representative tells you, “we can have someone stop by the day after tomorrow between noon and 6pm.”  That timing just won’t do; you have a family to worry about, so what do you do?  If you are anything like I am, you thanked them for checking and then took your business elsewhere; to someplace that might be able to get your house warmed up before the pipes freeze!

How can mobile help Bob’s HVAC Co.?

By putting mobile into the hands of his field personnel Bob can exert a new level of control over their schedule, work flow, costs and time to resolution.  Bob could be better positioned to handle emergency dispatches like yours; which creates better brand loyalty:

Mobile can optimize scheduling.

By putting a mobile device in the hands of your field service team, you can smartly create routes to their service calls allowing for more calls per day to be completed due to minimizing the amount of travel in between service calls.  With the integration of GPS technology into an application, you can mange your field service teams to the point of knowing how long each service call took to complete.  You will have gathered a great deal of business intelligence just by knowing when the technician arrived and when they left the site.  In conjunction with the information from the service call itself, you may be able to streamline the amount of time that is being spent on categories of repairs.  Chances are, you already have a feel for how long certain types of service calls should take.  Now, you can have empirical data to back that up.   Bottom line is that with more service calls per day you are generating more revenue.

Mobile can optimize workflows.

By putting an application that codifies the processes by which your business operates in the hands of your service technicians, you can lessen the burden of data entry. Record the work performed, the parts used and the outcome is recorded on-scene in front of the customer; right after the repairs are made.  Gone is the need to phone in a credit card.  With credit card peripherals easily integrated into the application; the technician can create the invoice, charge the credit card and create a receipt that can be emailed to the customer at the time of the completion of the job.   The application can normalize and automate many of the data entry points, reducing errors and eliminating the need for transcribing information from handwritten notes.

 Mobile can help with cost control.

By optimizing the workflow and scheduling with a mobile app in the hands of your field crew, you can reduce costs.  Your technicians are spending more time with customers fixing issues, or installing new equipment and spending less time “sitting in the van” filling out paperwork.   Using iPad’s face time, or another VOIP program, or a program like Appcast.it the technician can transmit video to the back office, where an expert could assist the technician real time with the problem; possibly saving the cost of another visit and improve the time to resolution.   With technicians updating their systems immediately, your managers can pull real-time reports of activity and get simple dashboard views into work load.   Managers can more easily see where some flexibility is available to assist with emergency calls as they arise.

Mobile can help with time to resolution.

As with the example above, using a screen sharing library in your app, or another way to share your screen can greatly increase your time to resolution.  It can also reduce the training costs, where you don’t necessarily have to have the deepest of knowledge bases all the way out on the front line, where they can be very expensive.   With a well written application, you can streamline your workflows and have access to your company’s knowledge base.  If an odd problem is found and solved by a technician, that solution can be easily documented and indexed instantly, so that the rest of your workforce can access it immediately.  Additionally, access to complete customer history can be very beneficial.  Bob’s HVAC Co. has dozens of technicians, and a second call at a location may not get the same technician the next time.  It would be very beneficial for the technician to have the history of that location’s work performance.

The above are just a few examples of how your company can use mobile technology to greatly increase your field teams’ performance, productivity and increase your management awareness.