Field service occurs when employees leave your premises — whether that’s an office, retail store, or warehouse — to provide service to customers in disparate locations. In some cases, companies may run on a mostly field service model, with remote workers being deployed via technology solutions rather than from a home office. This is a popular option for companies that are growing into new geographic locations but don’t want to put the capital into physical locations. Field service calls might occur at the customer’s home, a business, or even on the road, depending on what type of business you’re running and the needs of your clients.
Why Do Companies Offer Field Service?
Companies typically offer field service options for one or more of the following reasons:
- Pricing or cost concerns
Some businesses must offer field service by necessity because they sell or service equipment that can’t be brought in for repair. Companies that offer HVAC installation, maintenance and repair are a prime example: No one expects homeowners to rip their air compressor out and show up at an office to have it serviced. Other niches where field service may be necessary include :
– Plumbing and other home improvement work,
-home health care, maintenance of office or manufacturing equipment, and pest control.
In short, if you provide a product or service that must be dealt with where the client is, you’re a field service company.
In other cases, field service isn’t required, but companies offer it to be more competitive on the market. Consumers can bring a laptop in for service or repair, for example. But many IT service companies offer in-home or on-site business services for the convenience of their clients. You might offer optional field service because the competition doesn’t and that gives you a differentiator or you may need to offer field service because the competition does, and you feel the need to keep up.
Finally, field service could be a bottom-line decision for some organizations. Perhaps it’s simply less expensive to offer service in customer’s homes than it is to maintain service locations convenient to your clients. Alternatively, field service can provide a chance for up-selling, particularly when you put together maintenance or protection packages that clients can opt to add on when making a purchase.
Common Challenges Field Services Organizations Face
While field service offers benefits for both the client and your business, managing these processes is not without potential challenges. Whether you’re running an HVAC repair company or trying to keep tabs on pest control techs, here are some common challenges faced by any organization with reps or techs in the field.
- Managing the people. Human resources can be a hefty endeavor even when your employees are all under the same roof all day. When teams are in the field, managing personnel comes with additional challenges, and organizations must be equipped with excellent processes for real-time communication and timely feedback as well as proactive (but in-scope) decision-making protocols at all levels.
- Managing the schedule. Covering all the work on a daily basis is a challenge no matter what type of company you run, but when you have to factor in issues such as travel time, disparate teams in the field, and repair or service calls you didn’t plan for, things get even more complicated. There’s a reason jokes about cable company service window times abound, and no business that offers field service options wants to be the butt of the
- Managing the physical resources. It’s not just the staff you have to get to the right location in a reasonable window of time, either. Field service companies have to ensure teams have the right equipment and tools to get the job done, and because storage space in trucks and vans is not unlimited, making data-backed decisions about stocking service vehicles is important.
- Managing the intangible resources. Finally, intangible resources may be even more difficult to manage. Are you sending the right technician out for each job? For example, in the case of a plumbing company, you may have newer plumbers with enough experience to handle routine calls, but not the technical chops to handle a major bath or shower install.
Technology Solutions for Field Service Companies
Understanding how to schedule and manage all your resources is imperative to your success as a field service company. But with clients expecting more and more from customer service, it can be difficult to meet expectations while managing other business factors, including cost and budget.
That’s where technology solutions for field service work can make a huge difference. The right solutions, which put the power of data and automation behind your field service processes and management decisions, can solve many common struggles, including:
- Making it easier to get the right people, products, and tools in the right place (and at the right time) to get the job done
- Reducing communication issues that might drive up waste, such as the rework that comes when teams must revisit a site or customer because the job couldn’t be completed or wasn’t done correctly the first time
- Minimizing unscheduled or unnecessary maintenance calls to make processes easier to manage
- Reducing the time, it takes supervisors and managers to create and manage schedules so they can spend time and effort on other employee-facing and customer-facing concerns
- Removing reliance on cumbersome management tools such as Google Sheets or Excel spreadsheets that take hours or days to maintain but do little to support staff or day-to-day functionality
Try Out Field Service Tech Solutions Today
Whether you’re just launching a field service arm to be more competitive in your industry or you’ve had techs in the field from day one, if you’re ready for streamlined solutions that help you serve customers better, faster, and with less in-house headaches, consider field service solutions from Visual Planning.
You can book a demo to understand more about how these technical solutions can be integrated into your unique processes or request a free trial to test drive the technology for yourself.
Manale is a passionate about digital marketing. She joined STILOG I.S.T in 2018.
She brings SEO & SEA expertise, email marketing and creative content marketing to create a great brand experience for Visual Planning customers.