When running a landscaping business with field servicing involved, field service management will be a big factor in the business’ operations and, therefore, success.
Thankfully, there are many advances in the technology side of operating fieldwork. The most vital of all tech applications for the field is running field service management (FSM) software. In fact, 48% of organizations use some form of FSM tool to run their field operations.
There are dozens of tools to help with field service management, and they all follow certain trends. So when using FSM software, managers and operators need to know what trends will affect this part of business operations in the foreseeable future.
Here are some field service trends to keep an eye on this 2021 and beyond.
1. Joining the Mobile Revolution
Field service industry statistics show that service agents are 86% more likely to collaborate with management when a mobile-ready system is in place. Field service management apps allow for real-time updates, instructions, and communications from an operations base more easily.
With low-cost smartphones and tablets now available in the market, companies can deploy field service agents with smartphones and mobile gadgets with ready field service management tools either in-app or a mobile-friendly web browser format. Sending field agents with laptops will be a thing of the past as FSM tools now deploy a mobile version for their software and needs.
2. Remote Time-Tracking
Time tracking can be a concern for field staff. Let’s say a cleaning company sends out an employee to service a client’s home at 4:00 PM. Traditional time-keeping practices will compel that staff member to finish up earlier than 5:00 PM to make it back to headquarters on time to clock out, which can add unnecessary stress to an employee causing a drop in quality due to the rushed time requirement.
This kind of scenario most likely adds extra cost as the team will have to drive back just to punch out. With online time-tracking software, a service employee can clock out right after service is rendered without having to face the hassle of driving back to another location just to check out. As these digital web-based systems roll out, they will drastically improve human resource practices in the foreseeable future.
3. Increase in Online Customer Service
Field service management tools can solve online customer service needs. By leveraging the power of intelligent field service management software, companies can digitize, automate, and even optimize the customer delighting process. Many FSM tools have chat support capabilities or integrate seamlessly with a service like Zendesk to allow customers and clients to chat with representatives about their concerns. Enabling support agents to directly create a field service job from a support ticket offers a seamless sync and saves them time on double data entry.
Customer service automation allows for chatbots to answer common queries and questions. This capability leads to the next trend that’s taking over digital field service management.
4. Automation and Artificial Intelligence
As digital services continue to deploy artificial intelligence capabilities, companies can now automate multiple processes. This advancement helps lessen human errors by automating activities like documenting customer requirements, communicating requirements to field staff, and other tedious and repetitive tasks.
By integrating field service management software with automation, service companies and departments can now perform real-time scheduling and rerouting for better logistics. Artificial intelligence and automation will foreseeably start taking over other tasks like creating work orders, case management, inventory management, and others.
5. Tapping the Gig Economy Workforce
Another rising global trend is the gig economy, a concept of contract-based work with freelance workers. Hiring in-house field service staff uses a lot of company time and resources. With people turning towards more entrepreneurial paths in life, some people opt to work as contractors, providing their services on a contract or per work basis.
Many internet service providers and telcos have started employing contractors in addition to the regular staff to help lessen fixed monthly costs. Having a field service management system helps you manage contract field workers. For instance, when demand is high, your FSM can locate the contractor nearest to the job site so you can quickly dispatch them to fill in the gaps. It empowers you to go paperless in tracking contractors’ work time, activities, hours, and inventory in real-time.
6. The Application of Cloud-based Technology
Cloud computing has made collaboration and document management easier. It enables real-time syncing and data sharing, which eliminates manually syncing field service apps every time. Additionally, it empowers field service teams to stay on top of scheduling systems, dispatch the right person at the right time to the right location, and ensure transparency and flexibility.
Field service management software tends to use cloud computing for varying functions. Take time to research the best field service management software for you based on how they use cloud-computing and space and file-sharing requirements your company might contextually need.
7. Digital Task Management
Field service scheduling and collaboration will also continue to move towards digital applications in the foreseeable future. With virtual task management capabilities, service centers can provide real-time instructions to service staff on the ground and change them on the fly as the scenario sees fit.
Moreover, field service staff can also provide managers with real-time updates on finished tasks and job orders. This digital back and forth makes for more productive teams and helps simplify the task management process. Functionalities like a contextual checklist ensure the quality of the service is high. You can configure your work order process with a drag-and-drop capability and personalize it with your own terminologies.
8. Fleet and Transportation Tracking
A few decades ago, global positioning satellite or GPS systems were expensive and exclusive features provided to a select few. Nowadays, map technologies like Google Maps, Apple Maps, and other third-party GPS providers make GPS tracking a common practice in field service management. Now companies can track their field service teams’ movements and provide them with navigation capabilities as well.
32% of fleet tracking software users reported a positive return on investment six months after implementation. So it makes sense that companies will start demanding more fleet and transportation tracking capabilities in the future. There is still room to improve this evolving system, and innovative companies are starting to make navigation and location tracking more accurate. Meanwhile, customer expectations are just as high. In an Uber era, customers like being able to track real-time locations, ETA of technicians without reaching out to customer care support, and browse, select, and book independently.
Growing, Growing, Growing
The field service management market size continues to grow as companies start to realize the benefits that automation and digitization offer to field workers. So as the demand grows, it’s likely that FSM tool rollout will continue to propagate through various industries.