Transforming Field Services by Embedding Communications
Good, fast or cheap: Pick two.
That familiar expression – known as the Iron Triangle – has been accepted wisdom for the trade-offs of completing a project. But changes in technology are showing that this assumption is no longer true. You now can provide services or offer products that meet a customer's speed and quality requirements while keeping your operational costs in line. Embedded communication is one good example. Let's take a look at how this fast-growing technology is making the old paradigm obsolete—and how your field services company (and other types of companies) can benefit from it.
The limits of analog technology
The Iron Triangle rule can be illustrated with a home renovation project. You can get a quick, cheap kitchen remodel, but to do so you probably would have to employ low-skilled workers willing to take less pay or use cheaper materials. Conversely, you might get a beautiful remodel, but will likely have to pay more for high-skilled contractors and better materials. These are the basic limits of the physical world. When field service calls were largely analog-based – relying on landline phones and paper documents to manage the details – the Iron Triangle held true. To get a job done more quickly, you might have to deploy more people. To keep costs down, it might take a while.
The early potential of the digital age for field services
But as communications and information shifted from the analog to the digital age – computers replacing typewriters, cell phones replacing landlines – small gains in efficiencies and quality began to manifest themselves. Field services companies could pull a customer's information from a CRM system instantly rather than digging it out of a physical file. A tech in the field could call headquarters and ask for help, rather than making a drive back to consult with someone. Still there were built-in inefficiencies. A voice-only cell phone wouldn't allow the home office to share any visual information with a field service tech, so the information had to be provided another way. Documentation of the work done would still require a write-up, likely done at a later time, then entered at the home office—prone to incomplete information and errors.
The transformative effect of embedded communications
Now imagine how your field service team could perform if equipped with a mobile device equipped with a single application that:
- Gives them the history of previous service calls with the customer, as well as the type of equipment at the site—all shared from your corporate CRM
- Allows the home office to detect which service team members are nearby and available for a customer needing help
- Lets the tech send a message to the customer on when to expect the tech's arrival
- Allows the tech and home office to share visual and audio information about the situation
- Instantly records the details of the repairs through dictation or other convenient methods to provide quick and accurate billing, or just updates on the customer's status and potential future service needs
Benefits on both sides of the call
The efficiencies are evident: Less time spent at the office trying to dispatch techs and inform them about a customer's situation; fewer steps for the tech to get up to speed and share the results of the service call; and less time spent updating records. But the quality of service also has improved: Your customer gets a better idea of when to expect service, the service itself is likely to be better because the tech has the information they need.
Understanding the financial impacts for field services companies
And after you make the initial outlays for the field service management cloud service and training, your company starts saving money by taking advantage of these efficiencies and by retaining customers due to your superior service. You may be able to expand your service capabilities and add more revenue as well.
What makes it different from typical field services apps?
We describe this type of setup as “embedded communications” because all of the information sharing capabilities are contained in a single app. Your tech doesn’t have to shift back and forth between email, a CRM app, video conferencing, scheduling, etc. It's all contained in one app. That not only makes your tech's life a lot easier, it allows the company to capture and share all of the info without the risk of it getting lost or misapplied.
A movement quietly taking root
Field service is just one of many areas in which businesses are realizing the benefits of embedded communications. Don't be surprised if you hear your friends and colleagues starting to talk about it. It's real, it's here and it's more powerful than many companies realize. Keep tuned as we give you more insights into this emerging technology and how it can help you and your organization.
Learn more about our field services solutions
Check out our own embedded communications offering