Don’t Treat Your Field Service Teams like Drones

The work your field service teams do isn’t easy. Consider the time pressure to complete a job.  Not to mention the logistics of getting from one customer to the next, which brings more challenges one has little control over. 

Working alone in the field is not for everyone. You need to be self-sufficient and focused on fixing problems. When new issues come up, working alone makes this even harder, especially when servicing a demanding customer who may become irate if not resolved. A technician needs all the help they can get to complete the task and move on to the next.  

The need for a virtual “support team”

When an install or fix becomes complex and can’t be solved, the virtual “support team” must be readily available and moreover, knowledgeable.  Having a team of experts immediately available to answer questions and collaborate with is the recipe for success. 

But what happens when you can’t get hold of the right person with that specific expertise? You might have to wait on hold or kill time waiting for an email response. Frustration mounts and it can quickly escalate to the point where you need to contact a supervisor or regional manager.  

Fumbling with different apps on the smartphone wastes time and furthermore impacts work quality and completion rates.  Meantime, the customer starts asking about job status and if too much time goes by, the visit gets rescheduled for another day.  Outcome – higher cost to the business and even more dangerous, the customer may turn to the competition, which translates to lost revenue.

Let’s look at specific situations that field service techs encounter on a daily basis.  Getting instant answers, immediate access to the right information, notifications, and alerts on changes come to the top of the list.  In fact, simply knowing that there’s a full support team that has their back is half the battle. The next big question is how are field service operations addressing this from a technology perspective.

What your field service teams need on the job

INFORMATION Access:  

As products are updated and new offerings introduced, field teams must be trained and enabled to cover any possible event.  Installing is just one part of the equation. There’s ongoing maintenance and fix that must be covered too. Training in a classroom is quite different to completing jobs in the field.  Immediate access to install guides or even videos and pictures to better understand how to proceed is critical. If a tech has to spend time digging around for the relevant info, it’s wasted effort and job completion rates become impacted. Over time the frustrated employee turns over and that adds more cost.

Information must be at the fingertips of all who need to know.  Push notifications alert teams on each tech’s mobile device about updates or changes which enables teams to get jobs done.

GET ANSWERS to Specific Questions:

Questions arise all the time in the field.  Let’s say you are a crew-member working on maintaining an electrical substation.  You encounter a leak but you’re not sure if you should call a specialist team or try to resolve it on your own with other techs on the shift.  A quick chat, video or phone call to the supervisor would get to the heart of the matter and hopefully fast-forward a decision as to the best path forward.  With safety being number one, multiple other factors come into play which includes avoiding a disaster or perhaps outage that might affect an entire region.

Real-time questions and answers are critical in field situations such as this.  Having one single app that everyone uses is the only way to achieve it.

ALERTS or Notifications

Think about all the external factors encountered in a technician’s daily life.  Inclement weather, trees down, power outages or severe traffic that all impact the tech’s ability to do the job in the most efficient way.  It could even be something as simple as a scheduling system outage for a few hours which alone can have a domino effect. Being able to send timely notifications and alerts to the right people is key. Not only because teams need to figure out workarounds but also because teams need the reassurance that someone has their back and are doing everything to help.  

Directly sent to each team member’s mobile device, an amber-style alert pops up that you simply can’t miss.  Everyone is alerted in a timely way to ensure safety and support.

Being part of an engaged team:  

Field techs lead busy, stressful lives and knowing they are connected with like-minded team-mates, in addition to an entire support network of colleagues, helps drive efficiency and success.  That means everyone from the regional supervisor to the scheduling or dispatch team, as well as across management, feel part of an entire organization pointing towards the same goals and mission.

Field technicians should never be treated like “drones”.  They not only need the entire support system and team behind them, but also the right technology in their pocket to deliver the best possible service to customers.  In fact, the business depends on it.