Any business owner or manager with a highly mobile workforce knows that if they look at the majority of business challenges they’re facing, those challenges can be traced to one root cause—poor communication.
Our everyday technology has evolved so deeply that we now carry mini-computers in our pockets with us everywhere we go. On the surface, it might seem like communication would be better than ever before. But with the numerous communication options we have available —calls, chats, emails, texts, social media posts— critical information for service-oriented businesses can get lost in the shuffle.
That’s where field service management (FSM) software comes in.
What is FSM Software?
FSM software is software created to help businesses manage the daily tasks, communications, and customer interactions of a mobile workforce. The quality and features of FSM software vary. Basic FSM software manages the scheduling of services, the dispatching of technicians, and the tracking of job statuses. In its simplest form, this may even be referred to as work order management software. More advanced FSM software may also integrate with a company’s CRM, billing, payments, and customer alerts and communications.
FSM software has many functions, but they can all be traced to solving the communication issues at the center of most business challenges.
Service-oriented businesses with poor customer services ratings often suffer from communications issues. Eighty-four percent of customers report frustration when an agent doesn’t have information the customer wants on the first try. And customers report that the number one factor that affects their loyalty to a business is reducing customer effort. To make that reduction in effort possible, businesses need to anticipate customer needs and have scheduling support, job statuses, billing support and other relevant information readily available.
FSM software addresses these needs by integrating your CRM with your day-to-day field management.
Every interaction with a customer is tracking within the FSM so that agents or technicians can communicate proactively and emphetically with every customer.
FSM software also deploys automated client reminders via SMS message. With the vast majority of people preferring to receive information on their mobile phones (98 percent of people open SMS messages compared to 22 percent for email) this helps ensure scheduling miscommunications are avoided.
FSM software manages or integrates financial processes from an initial quote to an invoice all the way to online payment and internal accounting. Because the financial impact of a job is often the most stressful component for a customer, that integration of the billing lifecycle is critical. It eliminates communications errors and ensures everyone is satisfied with the outcome.
When your workforce is constantly on the move, it’s easy to run into communication problems. The technicians or agents of service-oriented businesses often report challenges with scheduling mishaps, job to skill matching, timekeeping, and lack of information about job history. As discussed, all of those issues can negatively impact the customer experience, but they can also impact employee satisfaction. And, for those laser-focused on the bottom-line, there is a statistical link between employees’ happiness and their productivity at work.
FSM software makes communication centralized and trackable.
Real-time scheduling that’s available on mobile makes it possible for technicians to stay on track with their appointments. With job history at their fingertips, technicians can fully understand the tasks at hand and contribute to the job history without juggling many moving parts (or pieces of paper). Photos, documents, and notes can be uploaded into one central location. And billing becomes a breeze. With the quoting, invoicing, and payment systems all housed in FSM software, technicians don’t have to spend time performing administrative tasks. They can focus on doing their work and moving on to the next customer.
Managers and dispatchers also benefit from improved communication through FSM software. Implementing FSM software is like lifting a fog for sudden visibility. At the touch of a mobile button, managers can see where technicians are, how their jobs are progressing, who needs help or more time, and who’s ahead of schedule and ready to tackle more.
With all of the avenues of communication available to us, the idea of adding another piece of technology to the mix can seem overwhelming. But FSM software doesn’t add to the fray, it joins it together. Using FSM software businesses, employees, and customers benefit from massively improved, integrated communication.
Taylor Burke is a contributor for TechnologyAdvice.com. She’s a marketer, storyteller, and techie who loves to learn about and cover field service, fleet management, business intelligence, and many other industry topics.
Last modified: August 17, 2017