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The Expert’s Guide to Field Service Management 

Field service technician working in the field

Customers are expecting more from the businesses they frequent. In fact, 70% of business leaders say that customer demands have intensified in the wake of the pandemic. 

Whether you’re a utility company or you offer service in customers’ businesses or homes, you need proper field service management to take care of the people you serve. But it’s difficult to do field service well in this environment. It’s especially challenging as your business grows and you add more moving parts into the equation. 

Every field service operator needs some kind of process in place—and the right tech stack to make those processes work. Without proper field service management, you risk low customer satisfaction, a crumbling infrastructure, and an ineffective workforce. 

Most field service operators already use some form of field service management out of necessity. But if your organization hasn’t already, it’s good to clarify and organize your processes for better ROI. 

Learn how field service management looks in the modern day, why it’s so critical, and the best practices for executing modern field service management to perfection:

What is Field Service Management? 

With field service, an organization either serves people in their homes or tends to infrastructure for utilities and services like sewers, electrical systems, or cable. Regardless of your exact business model, any work employees complete away from the company property is considered field service. 

Field service management, then, is an organization’s approach to field service. It’s a holistic process of tracking, organizing, and monitoring the people, equipment, and infrastructure outside of corporate headquarters. 

This includes: 

  • Managing employees
  • Managing equipment
  • Tracking assets
  • Operations
  • Scheduling employees
  • Client appointments
  • Dispatching 
  • Work orders and invoices
  • Inventory
  • Contracts 

Proper field service management optimizes every field resource, making the most of assets outside your office. It’s such a valuable piece of the puzzle that the field service management industry will be worth $5.9 billion by 2024

Types of Field Service Management

Cable repairman field service technician

Field service isn’t one-size-fits-all, either. There are so many types of field service management, including: 

The point of field service is to send employees away from corporate headquarters so you get boots on the ground. That might look like: 

  • An electrician repairing power lines after a storm
  • Mobile sales professionals giving quotes to the businesses you serve
  • Home health nurses treating their patients
  • Construction workers visiting different construction sites
  • Amazon drivers delivering packages
  • Property management companies repairing apartment A/C units

Field Service Management Challenges

But it isn’t all sunshine and roses. Even the most seasoned field service managers struggle with challenges like: 

  • Labor shortages: The field service industry has a shortage of two million workers. It’s hard to find certified tradespeople, like electricians and plumbers, as well as qualified professionals who want to work in the field.
  • High costs: There are many costs involved in running a field service operation, from fuel to vehicle maintenance, labor, technology, communications, supplies, and more. In the current landscape, inflation and increasing labor costs are two factors that make it difficult for field service operators to maintain their margins. 
  • Customer expectations: Trust in institutions is at an all-time low. This means field service workers have to work even harder to earn customers’ trust and exceed their expectations, which can be a tough nut to crack in this economy.
  • Security: When you move the management of your field service work into the cloud, it’s a boon for productivity, but it does open you up to cybersecurity issues. 

5 Benefits of Effective Field Service Management

Field service technician working on solar panels

Although field service management isn’t perfect, it has so many benefits that organizations clearly need to have structured processes in place. If you’re on the fence about field service management, consider the five major benefits it brings to the table.

1. Greater Agility

Field service management equips you with the tools to solve issues ASAP instead of letting them linger. That means you’re able to do more in a day. 

With proper management, you can see where everyone is in real-time. Track your team’s movements, see their completed jobs, and check up on invoices. Instead of waiting around for directions or parts, your team will have the ability to continue moving forward—that’s key for not only employee autonomy but also for overall agility. 

Plus, if you want to be able to increase revenue by taking on rush or emergency jobs, field service management allows you to do that more easily. You can often dispatch someone to the location within an hour with proper management. That gives customers a better experience while enabling you to take on more work that grows your bottom line. 

2. Save Money

Companies live and die by their margins. Fortunately, effective field service management makes it possible to reduce your costs and boost margins, all while doing more work in less time. 

With field service management, you utilize your labor and equipment more efficiently. You can also save money by: 

  • Using your techs to their full capacity so no one is waiting around for information
  • Directing techs to take the most fuel-efficient route to the job site 
  • Reducing the need for time-consuming manual documentation thanks to digitization

For example, a field service operation that has implemented a comprehensive asset tracking system can scan an asset tag or barcode label to ensure they’re working on or performing maintenance on the correct piece of equipment. When integrated into a robust field service management or asset management software solution, asset tracking also puts a complete history of the asset at your service tech’s fingertips, allowing them to quickly identify the correct replacement part and even place an order on the spot if it’s a part that’s not in inventory. If it is in inventory, your service techs will be able to quickly find the storage location and scan a barcode label to document its use for a repair or maintenance task.

When tagging assets and equipment in the field, choosing durable label solutions that can withstand harsh outdoor conditions, such as Rigid Metalphoto® Tags or special-purpose asset tags like Utility Pole Tags, is key to ensure readability even after exposure to weather elements. Made of durable Metalphoto® anodized aluminum, these asset tags have an expected exterior lifespan of up to 20 years in outdoor environments.

3. Customer Satisfaction

89% of customers want modern technology to schedule their appointment times—and many say they would pay a premium to do that. 

Field service management makes it easier to give customers exactly what they expect. You can keep tabs on their account and their overall experience, too. This visibility gives customers the extra layer of control and transparency that they crave, which is good for business. 

4. Standardization

How do your field techs complete their work? If they’re currently all over the place, field service management technology can help to standardize their processes. 

For example, if you switch to a mobile-friendly process that doesn’t use any paper, the software will guide each tech through their job. Implementing an asset tracking system means your techs can scan an asset’s barcode label for proper identification and access the work order, maintenance history, and other important details that will help guide their work. You can see if employees are taking proper action for the job, which is a great way to protect your reputation, ensure quality, and give customers a consistent experience. 

5. Employee Satisfaction

75% of field techs say their jobs have become more complex since they started their career. Because field service is experiencing a tremendous labor shortage, it’s a good idea to support employees in this complicated environment. 

Field service management helps to increase employee satisfaction by making it easier for companies to give employees:

When you empower field workers, you can improve their job satisfaction, which is a must-have for employee retention.

Field Service Management Best Practices

Field service manager checking data on a tablet

Field service management is so beneficial to organizations, but it’s a dynamic process that changes as customer expectations and technology change, too. Follow these seven best practices to make the most of field service management in the modern era. 

1. Track the Right Data

You can’t make effective business decisions without accurate information. That’s why field service data is so important. By collecting data, you’re able to look at the bigger picture and spot trends or opportunities that can benefit your business. 

If you’re using field service management software, key performance indicators (KPIs) are usually baked into the platform. Every organization has different goals, which means your KPIs will differ from everyone else’s. The good news is that these data points will warn you about potential problems so you can fix your field service operations before it’s too late. 

2. Empower Your Techs

You shouldn’t ask your techs to handle everything. They’re already performing in the field, which requires A-plus customer service, driving skills, and technical skills to do the job successfully. That’s a lot for one person to handle. 

To do field service management properly, take as many tasks away from your field service workers as possible. That means hiring more in-office staff to do administrative work or using automated software or updated technology to do the heavy lifting for your team. Empowering your technicians with the right tools and technology to make their tasks more efficient empowers them to provide better service to your customers.

3. Monitor and Manage Costs

44% of field service managers say that rising costs are currently their biggest challenge. High costs make it difficult to stay profitable, and the more complex your business, the harder it can be to understand where your costs are coming from.

If you aren’t already, ensure you’re tracking costs per tech, per job, and overall. That also means tracking costs related to: 

  • Inventory
  • Non-billable hours
  • Transportation

4. Collaborate with your techs

If you want to streamline field service operations, why not ask field techs for their input? They have daily experience in the field, so if you want to improve processes and retain your workers, involve them in the process. 

Ask field techs how they would improve fieldwork, as well as anything they like about current processes. You’ll likely find inefficiencies by asking employees for their opinions, which gives you the chance to tighten up where necessary while giving employees a better experience. 

5. Gather Customer Feedback 

56% of field service operators say their biggest challenge is meeting customer demands. Although customer expectations are definitely higher today, you can mitigate this challenge by also collaborating with your customers. 

Most field service management software will let you send a standardized feedback form to customers after their service. If you aren’t getting a lot of replies, you can always incentivize responses with a gift card, prize drawing, or discount. 

Look at both positive and negative feedback from your customers. If a certain complaint becomes a standard theme, that’s an opportunity for improvement. For example, if customers are frustrated that their techs never arrive on time, that might mean you need to give customers wider appointment windows or adjust your scheduling process.

6. Digitize and Automate 

A shocking 52% of field service operators are still using manual methods to manage their field workers. That’s surprising, given the fact that mobile-friendly, AI-driven field service software can boost productivity by as much as 40%

Where can you digitize and automate your business? Embrace technology like machine learning, AI, automation, and IoT. There’s no reason to keep manual or paper-driven processes around in a modern business. It’s easy to drop the ball with paper processes, so switch to a field service management platform that automates tasks like: 

  • Invoices
  • Schedules and dispatching
  • GPS routes
  • Reminders and notifications
  • Time clocks
  • Cost tracking
  • Contracts
  • Inventory
  • Compliance

7. Train Your Team

47% of field service operators have a hard time sourcing quality employees. Retention is a critical piece of the puzzle for staffing your business at the appropriate levels. 

After all, when you implement a new process, you can’t expect all your field workers to roll with it: people need training. If you want field workers to implement field service processes with fidelity for the long term, training will help them commit to good habits from the start. 

Initial onboarding is a must, but regular training—ideally on a twice-monthly basis—ensures your team is well-informed and equipped to do a good job.

Field Service Management Software

Paper-based or manual processes have too much margin for error. Connected technicians are the future of field service because they’re equipped with the right tools to work faster and smarter. 

It all comes down to choosing the right field service management software. This technology should handle the entire field service process for you. With the right software suite on your side, you can get greater visibility, accountability, and helpful features that simplify the entire field service process. 

While you’re free to choose piecemeal solutions, it’s a good idea to look for a holistic field service management software platform. This way, your team doesn’t have to switch between different solutions for billing, mileage, communications, etc. 

If you’re looking for field service management software, these are the most popular options: 

You can also check out our full list of The 25 Best Field Service Management Software Platforms for additional options.

Stay on the Cutting Edge of Field Service Management

Organization and structure are non-negotiable if your employees work outside of your corporate headquarters. It can be tough to keep up with trends in the field service industry, but it’s a must for delighting customers, retaining employees, and overtaking your competitors. 

Asset management is a critical piece of proper field service management. Know exactly where all of your assets are in the field and empower employees with the right information. Camcode’s military-grade tagging solutions are durable and easy to scan so you get more mileage out of your assets. Request a free sample now to see how our asset tracking tags can revolutionize your field crew’s workflow.

Questions about the article? Let us help!

Our sales engineers are experts in automatic asset tracking, tagging and identification,a nd can answer all your questions. Get in touch now.

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