How Mobile Apps Are Pumping up Field Operations

If being in the office behind a phone call, or behind a screen answering emails to your clients and customers is grueling at times, imagine what would happen if you had to face them every day. Every hour. What if your only job, is to face your customers/clients and solve their problems thereon? Now try thinking from the other side. What if you as a customer, call a serviceman. Your fridge is not working, or you want a new chimney installed in your place or your PC has gone for a toss, for some reason you call a serviceman by your doorstep, and what you are treated with is a man struggling to manage himself, forget about trying to solve your problems. He does not know your customer ID, your exact problem, is unable to look into his database for any solutions or spare-parts, is unable to connect to his manager in time – what will you be thinking in that very moment? “How will a man who cannot solve his own problems, solve my problems?” Result – dissatisfied customer. Or, the serviceman getting doomed with low morale. And who is responsible for this? The customer, no.The serviceman, not exactly. The exact root of this problem – is using incorrect tools. A serviceman, be it a salesman, a customer representative, a maintenance helper, a data collection officer or a door to door repairman – everyone in this category is facing the customer directly; and whether you like it or not, is representing the entire company in front of the customer. Your company might have the most cutting edge technology and research departments in place; but, if your servicemen are unable to deliver it while interacting with the customer, it all goes in vain. A salesman will be able to make a sale when he knows his customer and his product good enough. A maintenance man will be able to give smooth service, when he knows the product and the problem he is there to solve. Such field service executives are facing the customer head on, and it is extremely important for them to be at their best of performance, all through the time. This may sound difficult, but there are tools to help them optimize their delivery and performance day in and day out. It remains to be extremely important for your workforce. More than 20 million employees globally and 80% workforce in the USA are desk-less field workers.

Why do you need an app?

If you have a business which employees a team of delivery men/technicians and you want to scale your business whilst getting rid of age old excel sheets, and still make data driven decisions – you need one such solution. An excel sheet and a field services manager are soon turning out to be irrelevant, as only 22% of best in class companies tend to still use them. This is where customized digital tools come into the picture. The features required are limited, but their utility is unlimited. Imagine, a mobile app which helps your servicemen know the live availability of resources, connects them to the manager whenever and wherever required, allows them to schedule their field visits and gives them a live access to the company database of customers and resource info? Your field executives will be to provide solutions on the go and have access to all the necessary information required. As a matter of fact, all these features can be integrated into a mobile app and provided to your field executives. There are many vendors in the market providing end to end solutions for such mobile applications. That said, in order to increase the effectiveness of the app, you should be choosing a vendor who has a proven record in software and app development, personalizing apps and probably relevant experience in developing software for your industry.

What all to look for, in your app?

Once you have locked in on a vendor, it is time to outline the features required by you for optimizing the benefits you reap out of your mobile app. The following features will be a benchmark guideline for you to look up to, when working with your application vendor:

1. Database Connectivity:

Imagine, you are serving a client/customer in the field, and you have no idea about the customer’s track record with the company. It can be a total nightmare for both the service personnel and the customer. Your mobile application should have direct and live access to the company’s database, using which, your servicemen can directly get all the information regarding a customer and his/her dealings with your business. For example: If you are providing PC maintenance services, the app will be able to provide info for all the historic services given to the customer, and your servicemen will know when to alert the customer for a possible servicing time or work on providing customized solutions, as and when required. This way, your field executives can be effective (by providing the solution required by the customer) and efficient (saving time, by knowing the customer’s problem history beforehand).

2. Scheduling:

Your field executives might be dealing with tens of meetings and calls in a day, and your executives might face fatigue and inefficiency while doing so. A scheduling feature with both automatic and manual adjustments will allow your executives to prioritize their visits as per the urgency and availability of resources. Correct time and resources will be allocated to the apt customer problems, thereby saving a ton of resources and simplifying your executives’ workload.

3. Live Chat:

So, your field executive is visiting a customer, and the customer demands something which is out of your executive’s purview. What will he do? Tell the customer to wait, till he goes back to his office and asks someone to get back to them. Result – the customer will lose patience and faith in your services. A live chat option can allow him to connect his Manager and the customer, whenever required, and the entire process can be expedited from a few days to a few minutes.

4. Resource Management:

Readily available information of spare-parts and other required resources can save your company from facing deviated deadlines and also allow your field executives to provide legitimate delivery dates. This way, your customers will always get their promised deliverables on the promised dates, and a simple app will add to your goodwill.

5. Performance Tracking:

An ideal app, after standing rock solid on all its functionalities, should still be able to deliver business results. The performance tracking system in the app will be able to help you monitor the performance of your service personnel. For instance, how many calls do your sales personnel make before closing a client, how many visits are your maintenance men making daily, how many field trips are made by your field executives, and so on. Performance tracking will help you optimize the performance of your personnel and give unique insights regarding each personnel’s territory and working, which may turn out into revealing otherwise ignored patterns. When working on such a mobile app, look for a vendor who can deliver quality results as promised and provides required after sales services as well. The mobile app can have numerous utilities and the more it is used, the more effective and efficient it makes your business; hence, do not let monetary resources limit the development of such a functionally relevant tool.

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