Field Service Mobility: Unleashing the Full Potential of the Remote Workforce
Field service mobility provides comprehensive solutions that cover all business operations.
Field service mobility provides comprehensive solutions that cover all business operations.
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Mobility has always been a big deal for field service providers.
Across the board, field orgs rely on their remote workforce to generate value for the business and its customers, as well as differentiate themselves from competitors. Historically, that meant competing on expertise, price, or turnaround times. But, in 2023, that’s not enough.
These days, providers live and die by their ability to dispatch techs to fix problems ASAP, while simultaneously, working to ensure that all customers receive the best possible experience — during every single interaction.
If competitors offer better service experiences, why should customers stick with a provider that can’t manage to arrive on-time, meet SLA terms, or simply keep them in the loop re: critical services?
While “mobility” remains as central to FS operations as ever, field orgs need to update their stack for a new digital age.
This article looks at the impact of mobile technology on the field service sector — and what that means for providers moving forward.
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Field service mobility is an expansive concept used to describe the dynamic, real-time management of all field operations — from any location or device. While tech plays a central role, mobility is more about helping techs succeed in the field than it is about any specific technologies.
According to a recent Salesforce report, providing remote teams with quick, easy access to key info like work orders, customer records, schedules, and real-time job updates is crucial.
As Velosio Consulting Manager Bill McGibony explains, “mobility is critical because, by definition, field service involves sending technicians into the field, where, often, they don’t have access to a computer, WiFi, or even reliable cell service.”
As such, Bill says, “field service solutions must always empower technicians first. FSM software has to be easy and efficient for techs to update customer data on their own, otherwise, you’ll miss out on critical insights.”
Additionally, he says, “usually, it’s the techs that have the most accurate info. They’re the ones working the front lines, interacting with customers and troubleshooting issues. If you make it easy for them to update and share information from their phones, tablets, whatever, they’re more likely to do so.”
Broadly speaking, field service mobility improves customer service, collaboration, and coordination between all stakeholders — whether they’re in the field, the office, at home, wherever. However – it takes an entire ecosystem to unlock those high-level gains.
All that in mind, here are some of the core technologies you might include in your “mobility stack:”
Cloud ERP. The qualities that make FS mobility such a big deal — seamless data syncing & sharing, cross-functional communication & collaboration — hinge on having a unified digital platform and a rock-solid data management strategy in place. It’s that foundation that enables the real-time flow of information between field techs, support agents, customers, and leadership. And — allows you to eliminate redundant processes, optimize operations, and start leveraging predictive insights to lock down high-impact wins.
Mobile App. Any “mobile app” your techs use should be an extension of your core ERP platform. This is important because technicians need real-time access to that central hub to view work orders and schedules, update customer & asset records, change the status of each job, add notes, order parts, or get in touch with more experienced colleagues on-demand.
So, if you’re using Dynamics 365 Field Service (a CRM app that connects to your ERP), techs can use the mobile app to document their work. They can also update records while they’re performing the service.
According to Senior Consultant Nina Bowers, “technicians can use pre-configured service descriptions to document their work, then edit those reports from their phones. This not only makes their jobs easier, it also ensures that customers receive a detailed summary of each work order and what they’re paying for.”
Additionally, it’s crucial that your mobile app provides offline support, as connectivity can be unpredictable, at best.
Real-Time Reporting. It’s critically important that mobile FSM solutions provide real-time data re: work orders, customers, and asset performance. Ideally, IoT insights, CRM data, etc. connect seamlessly to mobile apps. That way, techs can understand each situation in full context and quickly respond with the right actions/solutions.
You’ll also want to ensure insights and self-service analytics tools align with technician needs. It sounds obvious, but tiny decisions re: workflow design and how info is presented and delivered make a big difference. See, while field techs might rely on many of the same insights and resources as their desk bound counterparts, that information may need to be presented in a completely different way.
Mixed Reality. Mixed reality applications further enhance mobile capabilities. For example, you
might use solutions like D365 Guides, HoloLens2, and Power Apps to better support front-line techs on the job with step-by-step, holographic guidance and visual collaboration tools. Augmented reality apps can also be used for training purposes, as well as remote monitoring and diagnostics.
It sounds really simple, but “convenient” capabilities go a long way in ensuring equipment data stays up-to-date, reports are submitted on-time, and techs get more done in fewer hours.
According to Nina, “just the fact that techs can make changes to contact records or submit notes while on-site, and those updates instantly sync back to the main system makes a big difference. Just from a productivity standpoint, this is huge.”
Velosio’s Erica Ellis says, “orgs can build guided workflows that ensure techs and support staff capture the right data from customers during interactions. Additionally, a lot of FS software now comes with geocoding capabilities that make it easy to verify addresses and track technicians in the field for more accurate ETAs.”
Nina adds, “even something like maintaining equipment lists manually is a tedious job. Apps that allow the tech to take a picture or scan a barcode make input and tracking much easier. If there’s new equipment, technicians can deactivate the old asset and activate the new one— all within a few scans and taps.”
The flip side of these benefits is that better mobile technology is making it harder for field providers to stay competitive.
A lot of companies are currently doubling down on remote-friendly IT investments. Whether they’ve staffed global teams with real-deal digital nomads, gone all-in on hybrid, or view mobility as part of a last-resort continuity plan, IT leaders know investing in real-time, “anywhere” access pays — in spades.
But, most of those orgs are focused primarily on making it easier for employees to work from home or collaborate with clients, colleagues, and partners across the globe. This group is responding to changing conditions, but likely isn’t redefining core business models.
However, other companies see video conferencing and remote collaboration as stepping stones toward bigger, better transformations. The same technologies enabling digital nomads, WHF die-hards, and global collaborations are also creating opportunities for companies to break into the field services space.
Home healthcare providers, delivery drivers, non-profit volunteers, regional sales teams, and more have now entered the mix.
Manufacturers, distributors, and professional services firms are also adding field services to their menu of offerings.
But, perhaps most crucially, new entrants are leveraging their tech-savviness (and access to capital) to “disrupt” FS by providing something better — promising customers more transparency, convenience, and speed than traditional providers.
Field service mobility is part of a holistic strategy that spans the entire business. Investing in apps, add-ons, and AR headsets in a vacuum won’t get you very far.
Yes, FSM stacks should center on the needs of the field team and the customer. Still, you can’t empower either group without also empowering finance, sales, project management, customer service, HR, etc. in the process.
Mobility starts with a connected field service experience that brings field ops, contact centers, and customers together in one platform.
Velosio’s field service experts can help you build the kind of stack that strikes that perfect balance. Our FS pros have years of experience both working in the field themselves and helping field service clients transform business operations at every level.
What’s more, our services extend beyond field service. Instead, we provide comprehensive solutions that cover all business operations.