Technology is everywhere. Why shouldn't it be in your business?
Whether or not you've already integrated mobile technology of some kind into your workflow, you've likely already encountered technology in your day to day life while interacting with other businesses. Whether you picked up a movie ticket by scanning a barcode, or received a shipping confirmation via text, technology has permeated every aspect of our lives, so it makes sense that it's also a huge part of a successful business.
There are many perks to incorporating technology into a business that range from productivity drivers to exceptional customer service. We expect online booking, receipts emailed to us, and service representatives that have our complete service history in front of them. Companies that incorporate technology into their workflows can more easily provide the service that customers expect, and exceed those expectations.
First impressions matter, but whether you're visiting a site for the first time or the fiftieth, your technicians should look professional. Paper forms, no matter how expertly managed, have the unfortunate byproduct of being disorganized. Whether a carbon copy doesn't quite transfer, or a coffee cup spills in the truck, a lot can go wrong that causes paper forms to look less than perfect.
Using a field service management system in tangent with mobile forms and cloud data storage, technicians can Impress customers by coming to jobsites fully prepared with information like when the site was inspected, or the last maintenance activity that was performed. Being so prepared makes the customer feel they're being given the best possible service by people who care about their site and their satisfaction.
Constant access to the internet is useful when sitting on the couch trying to figure out just where you know that actor from. Why not take advantage of that immediate access in the field? Providing technicians with not only internet access in the field, but access to pre-downloaded diagrams and procedural documents via cloud apps means they're prepared for anything the jobsite throws at them.
Speaking of being prepared, how often do technicians arrive to fix a problem reported by a client only to find the actual problem is something different, or that there are more issues present than reported? Internet of Things sensors can give visibility into the field before technicians ever need to step foot in a truck, meaning they're prepared for whatever is waiting for them.
Gone are the days of calling to schedule follow up calls, and entering that information into a calendar, and then coordinating technicians with outboxes and emails. With a field service management system, not only are technicians dispatched the information they need on the days they need it, they can use the map app on their mobile device to find where they're going, and then schedule a follow-up right there on site that's fed again into the same system. This end-to-end workflow means nothing is ever missed, and no client is left wanting for a follow-up.
This also makes it easier to be sure assets are worked on when they need to be. Access to back-office systems can tell technicians in the field when an asset needs to be worked on again based on its age and use, so follow-ups can be scheduled when they're needed.
Whether you're beholden to SLAs, OSHA or the EPA, compliance is a large part of any industry. Trouble is, depending on the site, the region, or the employees, there are different needs for every job when it comes to the forms they need to fill out. Paper forms are unforgiving: if you need Form A, it'll always look like form A, and if you need Form A1 for one site, and Form A2 for another, you better bet your technicians will need to not only know which is which, but they'll need to carry them around, too, in whatever language they need.
Combining a cloud storage solution or FSM system with adaptive mobile forms removes all the issues that arise when multiple regions or conditions require different forms. Feeding off existing lists of requirements, smart forms adapt to suit the region, language, or customer needs of any job.
Speaking of compliance, when it comes time to perform audits on behalf of governing institutions or customers, collecting the necessary forms and data takes time. If you're relying on paper, you need to chase down forms that might be in someone's truck, or stuffed in the wrong file cabinet. That means a quarterly audit could take weeks to prepare for, and by the time everything is collected, it's already out of date.
Filling forms out on a mobile phone means technicians can take photos using their device's camera, and attach them - along with GPS stamps - onto forms, and dispatch them straight into automatically-filed cloud storage systems. This makes not only performing audits, but proving compliance, that much easier.
There are a lot of jobs during the day - including filling out forms - that take a lot of time for only a little return. Monitoring soap levels in a bathroom, checking lights are on, and other manual processes can be tedious, and depending on how much time teams have, can still cause customer dissatisfaction: if lights are inspected weekly, one could go out on Monday and managers wouldn't know until the next inspection at the end of the week.
Taking those unnecessary manual processes out of field workers' days means they have time to perform the tasks that require a person to complete, such as changing a lightbulb that's gone out - rather than having them look to see if the lightbulbs are on, just in case. Automatic data storage helps here, too, saving plenty of time in the field and in the office as technicians fill out forms digitally and submit them straight into back-office systems.
Data entry is the bane of every office worker. Having to take paper forms and enter them into a spreadsheet before filing it away is not only tedious and time-consuming, but deeply error prone. Imagine a game of broken telephone, but instead of whispering, it's reliant on poor handwriting on a clipboard in triplicate, and a busy admin who is constantly interrupted. These things compound to result in incomplete and inaccurate data which managers rely on to make business decisions.
Filling out forms on mobile devices, however, removes the chance for error. IoT sensors record conditions, FSM systems dispatch to the right users, and cloud connections populate mobile forms with back-office data and are automatically updated when forms are digitally submitted. That accurate data can also filter into back-office analytics systems that can tell you which teams are struggling, which customers might churn, and which machines need maintenance based on their usage.
Incorporating technology into your workflow supports every part of a business, empowering field technicians, managers, and more to tackle the challenges facing businesses today. To see mobile forms in action from field to office, check out TEC Services’ success story video.
Jacinta joined ProntoForms in 2014 as a Technical Documentation Writer. She then moved over to the Marketing department as a Product Marketing Specialist where she has been involved in many aspects of copy production, and has taken a whole lot of screenshots. Jacinta has a BA Honours in English, Religion, and Philosophy from University of Toronto.