11 Tips to Select the Best Field Service Management Software
When you order something on e-commerce sites like Amazon or order food online, tracking your delivery is very seamless. It shows they have a field service management software in place, enabling you to track everything within your app. Reaching out to field service technicians like electricians and plumbers also involves managing and planning field service.
A field service management (FSM) software can help your customers reach out friction-free through a mobile app–while your company can manage requests, monitor availability of field technicians, prioritize tasks, and boost the overall efficiency and productivity of your field service team.
So if your business requires you to provide on-site customer support, then you need to zero-in on the best field service management software for your company. You need to evaluate your business needs and consider the essential functionalities that an FSM tool has to offer–and get the bang for your buck. But don’t sweat it, we’re about to make it easy for you.
Ensure organizational readiness for FSM software
Before you adopt an FSM software, you need to clarify what your business needs are and revisit requirements at the team-level (helpdesk and in-house technicians OR delivery and supply chain partners) to chart out the next course of action – software functionalities to look into.
#1 Understand your business needs
It is easy to get lost in lofty, jargon-filled claims of field service management software. The best way to understand your actual business needs is to talk to the field service executives, helpdesk agents, delivery, and supply chain partners. Because these are teams that will be communicating with each other through disparate systems that don’t get along well. Involving them in your decision-making will clear the air on features required, gaps that need to be filled, and identifying bottlenecks.
While the needs of delivery executives could be reasonably simple, field service technicians have a wide range of requirements. For instance, a common problem that field technicians face is the attribution of tasks. Imagine you’re running a service company that offers domestic repair services like plumbing, carpentry, and electronics service. The professional expertise and skillsets vastly differ among plumbers, electricians, telecom technicians, and carpenters. So, your company will need a field service management tool that routes the right service task to the right technician, which means the right service task needs to be routed to the right technician.
The ability to further such nuances with different skill-levels under each expertise and personalization are vital in adopting a field service management software that is ideal for your business.
#2 Decide whether your FSM is going to be SaaS or On-Premise
How are you going to roll out your FSM adoption? An on-premise delivery model is more suited for companies that cater to specific verticals, with complex workflows. They are tailor-made to accommodate the highly unique needs of specific industries or to companies that are big enough to go in-house. An ideal example would be the e-commerce giant Amazon, which no longer requires the ability to scale, but needs custom programming for their unique workflows.
The downsides of using an on-premise FSM solution would be high maintenance and lack of flexibility. Plus, on-premise FSM may not have the ability to seamlessly integrate with external systems like CRM or chatbot, as everything is built internally.
But if you’re running a startup or a growing business, SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) is the better option for field service management. Here are some advantages of SaaS over on-premise:
- It offers heightened scalability as field service workflows are streamlined and easily customizable. Maintaining the cloud is not a worry as it is hosted by a vendor.
- Since field service management involves a lot of functions working together, it is wiser to go with SaaS, to ensure your helpdesk software and other essential tools can easily be integrated.
- A unified field service management software with helpdesk and self-service options is a more significant value add–compared to a standalone FSM tool–as helpdesk agents and field service executives can communicate with complete context about customers, service tasks, and schedule.
Look out for FSM functionalities that add business value
Now, it comes down to the features and functionalities of an FSM software that you need to use as benchmarks in selecting the right field service management software.
#3 Organize field teams and service groups
If your business offers different services, make sure the field service management software that you choose lets you create service groups based on the technicalities and the expertise of your technicians. For instance, ‘replacing machine parts’ can be a separate group of field technicians, while ‘routine service’ can also be a group of its own.
This functionality will help you create well-defined roles, allocate the right resources to relevant field tasks, and manage your workforce better.
#4 Get a 360 view of the customer with omnichannel support
Field service management requires customer service agents and field service executives to work together. In conventional systems, collaborating is a huge hassle since it is difficult to pass information between agents and technicians. However, a modern field service management software provides complete context about a customer’s conversations across different channels from a single view. Customer service agents, as well as field service technicians, no longer have to shuttle between multiple tools or windows to collaborate.
Field service executives can directly look at the customer’s conversation and their prior interactions on the go, without requiring helpdesk agents to pass them on.
#5 Add and track service tasks for field visits
During field visits, the servicing would be more streamlined if technicians are able to update the status of their work. If replacing the compressor of a car air conditioner is the purpose of the field visit, the service tasks to be updated during the course of fixing it could be:
- Drained the refrigerant.
- Removed compressor switch and replaced with the new one.
- Removed condensation with ac gauge.
- Added new refrigerant with unused fluid.
So, the field service agent would be logging in these 4 statuses through the course of his/her field visit. Apart from setting up a standardized approach to field visits, service tasks would also make it easier to pinpoint the stage where resolutions fall short during a field visit.
#6 One-tap scheduling and appointments based on agent availability
The ideal field service management software would provide a transparent field agent calendar to assign tasks diligently without clashes in appointments. Apart from automatic routing, helpdesk agents should also have the ability to override tasks and assign them to the best available agent in terms of expertise and location. It should be as simple as dragging and dropping tasks into the agents’ calendar. SLAs can be set for different types of field visits.
#7 Ease of adopting integrations and APIs
The field service management software you select must be able to integrate with your CRM, billing software, delivery and service tracking APIs, etc. Before pledging their loyalty to your brand, customers look for a unified and no-frills experience across all touchpoints–which makes ease of integration a priority. APIs are just as important as they finesse the experience with invaluable plug-ins such as delivery status, return status, geolocation, and customer signatures.
#8 Efficient automation and forecasting
Automation of repetitive tasks such as ticket routing, assignment of service tasks, and resolution management speeds up the resolution to common service requests. Look out for time and event-based automations, automations for missed appointments, automations based on agent performance, and so on.
An field service management software with forecasting abilities can help you optimize delivery/service times, predict recurring issues, pinpoint which service tasks need better resolutions, and improve managing schedules and appointments.
#9 Enhanced field service and customer experience through self-service
Self-service is now an integral part of any customer support strategy. Not only does it empower customers to find answers to their queries by themselves, but it also reduces the volume of tickets that your helpdesk agents need to handle–and give them more time to coordinate with field agents. Especially for those companies that want, or need, to keep their customer support lean, self-service is a great way to reduce overhead costs and still delight customers to the fullest.
Self-service features can be adopted in the form of FAQs, knowledge base, solution articles, customer communities, and chatbots. So, when you select an FSM software, make sure that it offers an in-built self-service portal, should you decide to add it to your field service optimization efforts.
#10 Returns management
When a new customer opts for a product return or replacement, Amazon puts him or her through reassuring messaging of how simple the process is. They can, because it is true how simple the process really is, with timely updates about the status. But the process that runs behind the scenes is a complex one.
If you are in the retail business, it is critical that your FSM software should possess a definitive framework for returns management and reverse logistics. There are multiple stakeholders involved here: supply chain units (internal or vendor), delivery partners, and helpdesk agents. Double-check if the FSM software you are considering offers inter-team collaboration and standardized workflows for returns/replacement requests. Because in this digital era, brands are often judged by the way they handle their returns and requests.
#11 A mobile field service app with comprehensive features
To maximize the potential of your field agents, you need to make sure they are always connected to the helpdesk during their field visits. It’s a no brainer that field service agents will make the most out of a comprehensive, feature-rich field service app.
Features to look for in a mobile field service app include the ability to:
- Locate and navigate to customer destinations.
- Add service notes for future reference, click and attach service pictures.
- Service checklist for personal and tracking purposes.
- Log in expenses. For instance, in case of a washing machine repair, agents can add details about product parts replaced (option to choose parts for customers).
- Clock in and out of appointments to log in field service times and obtain customer signatures when the task is completed.
FSM software is a cornerstone for both employees and customers
In addition to the features mentioned above – the security of a cloud-hosted software, access to centralized information, smart scheduling capabilities, and robust reporting and analytics not only make agents’ jobs easier–it also alleviates the overall digital experience that customers receive. The right field service management software can be a direct contributor to business success. You can improve your field service agents’ mobility, optimize operations, and eliminate the tedious paperwork generated by volumes of orders by selecting the right solution.