Equipping Your Mobile Workforce with the Right Field Service Technology

Written by Abby Nieten on January 31, 2019

Posted in Mobile Forms, Workflow Automation

The rise of mobile computing has undoubtedly revolutionized the way many businesses function—including those in the field service industry. Today, service delivery methods are heavily influenced by customer expectations for convenience and efficiency. And that means service companies are employing mobile technologies at a rapid pace to deliver superior customer experiences.

It’s well-documented that customer satisfaction is a key brand differentiator across most industries, and online reviews play a big role. If a field service technician lacks the proper technology to have a smooth, effective transaction with a customer, the company’s reputation will suffer. More and more field service businesses are looking for technology that makes their technicians’ jobs easier and creates optimal customer experiences.

Field service automation has gained ground in recent years, but companies looking to become more automated are still faced with several technology challenges. Here’s what you need to consider as you work to equip your mobile workforce with the right field service technology:

Hardware Challenges

The goal for most field service businesses is to give technicians the tools they need to embrace mobile data collection—or, in other words, to enable every technician to record important data via a mobile device while on-site at an appointment. While this is a great goal, equipping your staff with mobile-ready tools is a little more involved than it may initially appear.

First, you must decide what type of hardware is best for your business. Will your technicians benefit most from notebooks, tablets, smartphones, or another type of handheld device? Do they need any other hardware while in the field, such as a mobile printer?

Second, you must consider how durable the device needs to be. For example, construction contractors may need a more durable device than technicians who install home security systems.

Third, you need to think about how often you will want to replace your field service hardware to ensure it stays up-to-date. Is every five years sufficient, or will your team need new devices sooner than that?

Software Challenges

Much of the success of your mobile workforce hinges on the software you adopt. You might have the best mobile devices on the market, but if the installed software doesn’t support seamless mobile data collection, your business will suffer.

When in the field, technicians need dependable tools that allow them to do the most important parts of their job under any conditions. This could include:

  • Collecting data (including customer signatures) without a stable Wi-Fi connection
  • Creating an automated field service report
  • Sending data to back-end systems, like a CRM
  • Booking follow-up appointments

Enabling field service technicians to provide an exceptional customer experience can be a challenge, but it’s possible with cloud software that provides offline forms, document generation tools, and seamless third-party integrations. This type of software saves your technicians time and eliminates the burden of paper documentation, allowing them to stay on track with each day’s appointments. It also allows your entire team to gather same-day service insights that can improve customer satisfaction.

Related: Manage data more efficiently with field service automation. 

Purchase Considerations

If you’re ready to improve your field service business with the latest technology, you’ve taken an important first step. Now, you’ll need to consider your purchase options.

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a purchase model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis. This type of model has been around for years and is now fairly common. Most SaaS solutions offer tiered pricing, so you’ll want to pay close attention to the features and number of users available at each level.

Hardware as a Service (HaaS) is similar to SaaS in that it allows companies to lease hardware for a monthly (or annual) fee. This model helps businesses avoid shelling out large chunks of cash up front for mobile devices that may only have a life expectancy of a couple years. Things to consider include warranties, upgrade options, and end-of-life services (such as data wiping). Panasonic recently announced this type of model with it’s UK-based TOUGHBOOK-as-a-Service.   

Are you struggling to equip your mobile workforce with the right tools? Formstack has solutions for your technology challenges. Learn more about Formstack Go and Offline Forms, which can serve as a powerful field service mobile app for your team.