How mobility in field service has gone from ‘nice to have’ to ‘crucial’
Countless studies over the last few years have shown that mobile working solutions boost productivity, efficiency and even creativity within field service organisations.
The Evolving Workforce Project, looking at mobility in the workplace, found that 83% of global workers believed that such advances had enabled them to become more productive, a trend they saw increasing in the future.
The Economist Intelligence Unit found that 60% of global workers said their productivity had increased thanks to mobile technology, while 45% claimed it had boosted their creativity.
The Technology Services Industry Association found that 63% of companies using mobility tools had seen an increase in worker productivity, while half had seen an increase in customer satisfaction rates, along with reductions in paperwork and travel times.
In a market study by Blumberg Advisory Group Inc., 74.1% of respondents indicated that mobility was one of the most important trends for the industry going forward. In fact, mobility was viewed as more important than wearable technologies, big data and the Internet of Things.
More smartphones than running water
Considering that four years from now, according to Cisco, more people will have smartphones than running water, the statistics above are not surprising. Nearly all of us use a smartphone for work purposes, and the advantages for field service technicians — and the companies who employ them — are copious.
Mobile working solutions give technicians access to live information about customers, machines and operating environments while they are in the field. They can receive work orders, ascertain parts availability and raise purchase orders, obtain technical information, and communicate in real-time with back office. The net effect of this is better problem management, more proactive customer service, and field workers who are more efficient and more productive than ever. This in turn leads to greater data accuracy, higher customer satisfaction rates, and improved operational and financial performance.
Mobile apps provide additional advantages
Some service management software platforms allow field service technicians access to the database via a browser. This gives technicians the ability to log in remotely wherever they may be, view scheduled jobs, asset data and parts availability, and generate purchase orders and service reports. But some software providers offer a separate mobile application that is integrated with the central system. This approach comes with a throng of additional benefits for both the technician’s ease and speed of working, and the service company’s operational efficiency.
Evatic Mobile Service is an example of a separate application integrated seamlessly with the central system — Evatic Service — but installed on a technician’s mobile device so that it can interact with hardware and other apps on the device. It offers a paperless, fully automated, platform-independent workflow managing the entire lifecycle of a job, from scheduling, skill matching and dispatch to monitoring, updating and completing. But being integrated with your device means you can use it to take photos or scan barcodes using the camera, navigate to customer locations using GPS, and capture customer signatures once a job is complete — without having to run half a dozen discrete apps at once.
Furthermore, Evatic Mobile Service was upgraded in 2016 to EMS 5.0, bringing a wave of improvements. These included a simpler, more consistent layout, new stock management tools, the ability to add or change machine data, and a new scheduler component letting technicians assign un-assigned jobs to himself or a colleague. EMS 5.0 also allows customers to disclose their level of satisfaction when they sign off a job, an extra tool to help service businesses monitor their customer service output.
An integral part of field service management
Studies show that field service organisations who implement mobility solutions are likely to have first-time fix rates, cash flow, SLA compliance and field engineer utilisation levels that are 50% higher than companies who do not.
Mobility in field service is much more than a nice-to-have tool. It’s become integral for field service providers to remain competitive, profitable and deliver excellent customer experiences.