How to Elevate Your Mobile Workforce Management with Field Service Tools

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Whether providing gas, plumbing, security, HVAC, or electrical support, a mobile workforce is expected to be consistently successful in their delivery of services. But, without the use of cloud-based tools and mobile technology, the performance and management of a mobile workforce can suffer. Much like the 52% of field service providers who still use manual methods such as spreadsheets and whiteboards.

Through poor service delivery, a business’s customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) and customer retention levels can decline. And, it’s because of this, that field managers need efficient field service management tools to enhance the management of their mobile workforce.

Why Having a Good Mobile Workforce is Essential

A mobile workforce consists of a group of employees, typically managed by a service manager or field operator, that aren’t bound to a physical location.

Whereas mobile teams were typically only found in larger organizations such as utilities and healthcare, it’s increasingly common for multiple field workers to be associated with smaller operations. This includes SMBs such as plumbing, landscaping, pest control, and window cleaning.

The rise in mobile operators can be largely attributed to the availability and advancement of mobile technology. Such as smartphones and cloud-based Field Service Management Software.

These tools are also the driving factor behind the growth of global mobile workforces, which are expected to reach 1.87 billion workers by 2022.

Mobile service teams are put in place for a number of reasons. One reason could be to cut back on a business’s real estate costs by choosing in-field workers as opposed to office-based staff. Another reason could be to increase a business’s customer service experience and offer 24/7 support. Either way, service providers expect a return on investment from their mobile workforce management that includes:

  • Exceptional customer management
  • Improved CSAT scores
  • High first-time fix rates
  • Improved customer retention levels

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Common Challenges of Managing a Mobile Workforce

Whereas office-based workers are on-site and accounted for, managing and tracking workers in the field requires a different approach.

Businesses need to know where their technicians are, what jobs they’re qualified to perform, how many hours they have worked, and what level of customer service they are providing.

By manually managing a team of mobile workers, service managers are responsible for performing a number of tasks. These include logging work orders in spreadsheets, managing customer requests via a shared email inbox, waiting on invoice payments, and filling in employee timesheets.

Challenges of Managing a Mobile Workforce

But, when deploying a manual approach to managing a mobile workforce, field managers are faced with a number of challenges. Two challenges that are common in mobile teams is a lack of communication and limited access to real-time data.

Lack of Communication

A key factor for a team to successfully working together is communication. Without good communication, cracks start to appear and the delivery of services can suffer. This is an issue facing all field service managers that do not have the use of management tools.

Without constant communication or an overview of job management, problems can arise. Including:

  • Jobs being double-booked
  • Wrong technicians being sent to locations
  • Work orders not being updated
  • Jobs and tasks being delayed

No Access to Real-Time Data

A key benefit of enabling a mobile workforce with cloud-based tools is the ability to track and manage field workers in real-time. This helps managers to know what jobs their team have been to and how well they performed. As well as receiving live updates of work orders and being able to track company vehicles.

Field workers can also feel the pinch when it comes to having no real-time data to work from. For instance, they’ll have no access to inventory management, which can prove vital for ensuring first-time fixes. In fact, a 2019 study found that 45% of mobile workers were wasting significant time due to outdated and inaccurate information.

4 Tools Needed to Boost the Efficiency of Field Service Staff

Although 48% of field service organizations are using some form of management software, it’s important that both service managers and mobile workers have access to the right tools. By doing so, businesses can start to increase the efficiency and productivity of their field service delivery. Resulting in higher customer retention rates and, most importantly, improved revenue.

Deploying a field service management system with the right capabilities can vary depending on a business’s requirements. But, there are four key tools that are essential for any business wanting to improve its mobile workforce processes.

  1. Vehicle Tracking

    Through the use of GPS trackers, businesses have the ability to track a fleet of field service workers and their vehicles. With 52% of FSM companies integrating a fleet management solution in the workplace, real-time vehicle tracking has been proven to provide many benefits for service managers.

    One advantage of vehicle tracking is enabling office-based staff to assign technicians who are closest to a job. This is performed by highlighting the address of a customer who has opened a support ticket and then identifying which technician is nearest to that address. Overall, this helps to eliminate customer wait times and reduce the 50% of service hours lost due to travel time.

    Vehicle tracking tools can also provide further data analysis of a mobile workforce by relaying driver behaviour data, vehicle idle times, and fuel optimization reports.

  2. Scheduling and Dispatch Management

    Coupled with the ability to track an engineer’s location in real-time, having an efficient scheduling system can help businesses to cut costs and increase customer satisfaction levels.

    By working from a centralized dashboard, field managers are able to view their entire mobile workforce in one place. This allows them to assign qualified technicians to the right jobs, track open work orders, and see what engineers are available.

    Ultimately, a field service manager will use a scheduling tool to assign a technician who has the best chance of providing a first-time fix. Ultimately guaranteeing a good customer service experience.

    The importance of a Mobile Workforce's first-time fix rate

  3. Offline Access

    To ensure a field technician is equipped with the right knowledge for a specific job, they need access to all available data. That includes:

    • Manuals and information packs
    • Spare parts inventory
    • Knowledge bases
    • Contact details

    When accessing data on a mobile device, field workers require a network connection. But, depending on their location, this isn’t always available to them. That’s where having offline access to a business’s data repository can help.

    Having offline access to data when in the field is particularly key to improving a mobile workforce’s first-time fix rate. Instead of going back to the office to gather job information or check spare parts inventory, they can access that data instantly on their mobile device. Without offline access, first-time fix rates can suffer, leading to an average wait time of 14 days for customers.

  4. Digital Invoicing and Payments

    Another tool that is key for a mobile workforce is being able to invoice a customer and receive payment whilst still at a job’s location. Digitally creating an invoice and being able to receive a digital customer signature can then help to reduce the time-consuming process of chasing payments.

    Being able to instantly take payment from a customer is particularly handy for smaller field service operations. With 52% of small businesses worrying about unpaid invoices.

Using Field Service Management Software to Manage a Mobile Workforce

With 70% of field service organizations citing customer satisfaction as the primary reason for choosing a management tool, it’s essential that businesses adopt the right Field Service Management Software that fits their requirements.

Essentially, the key to improving a business’s delivery of service is to provide service managers with the tools to manage their mobile workforce with greater efficiency. These tools could be job scheduling programs, work order management, fleet tracking, or digitized payment gateways.

By doing so, businesses hope to improve their service delivery and meet key performance indicators such as customer satisfaction scores. Keeping in my mind that service providers with a 90% and higher CSAT score are able to increase total revenue margins by 30%.

Businesses must also supply in-field staff with the tools needed to improve productivity in their service processes. These include mobile devices, offline access, and simple invoicing tools. After all, a mobile workforce holds the keys to delivering the very best customer service in the form of first-time fixes and reducing job delays.