How to Manage Field Technicians Effectively

November 18, 2021

When your team is working across various customer sites, it can be tricky to maintain visibility over who is working, where and when. The fact that 52% of field service businesses continue to rely on outdated legacy systems and manual administration methods only adds to the dilemma further.

When you're unable to properly manage your field service engineers, it directly affects the service you provide to your customers. Unfortunately, with everyone's lives being so busy, your customers won't appreciate having to wait for late technicians, needing more than one appointment to fix their issue or spending hours chasing down your back-office team for updates.

However, thanks to modern field service management technology, effectively managing your field technicians is more straightforward than ever before. With access to real-time data and visibility over your entire operations, you can rest assured that your field service engineers are doing an outstanding job and that your customers are satisfied.

In this article, we'll explore what field service management is before sharing the top five ways businesses can effectively oversee their field-based workers using modern workforce management technology.

What is Field Service Management?

To put it simply, field service management (FSM) is a method of organising and enhancing work performed outside of the office. But, as we mentioned earlier, the majority of businesses rely on antiquated, error-prone manual processes to manage their workflow.

Unfortunately, traditional methods of handling your field technicians are time-consuming and ineffective. Not to mention that they can cause a host of issues, including poor first-time fix rates, delays and booking clashes, and workplace-related injuries.

In contrast, field service management technology has the potential to completely revolutionise the industry, giving managers more control and visibility over their entire operations than ever before. Consequently, you'll be able to improve productivity, provide better service to your customers and boost your bottom line.

The best field service platforms come with an app that arms your field-based workers with all the essential information they need, regardless of location. With such a powerful tool at their fingertips, your technicians will have the ability to do the following:

  • Log expenses in seconds
  • Capture photos and signatures
  • View available stock, parts and equipment
  • Complete risk assessments and view method statements
  • Access the CRM (customer relationship management) system
  • Carry out electronic vehicle walkaround checks
  • Fill out and submit timesheets
  • Communicate with your back-office staff in real-time

Providing your field technicians with the best technology not only ensures that they can complete each job to the highest standard, but you'll have a better understanding of what is happening off-site. You can then use the real-time data that the FSM technology captures to make crucial business decisions that enable you to grow your operations more rapidly.

How Can Modern Technology Help Manage Field Service Engineers?

If the COVID-19 outbreak has taught us anything, it's that technology has the power to transform the way businesses operate. In fact, companies that adopt technology report a higher rate of recovering from pandemic-related economic challenges.

In addition to the overall advantages to your organisation, technology can also help you manage your field-based workforce more effectively. Here are the top five ways that your business could benefit from implementing a field service management platform:

1. Create a More Effective Job Schedule

Currently, 25% of field service businesses rely on spreadsheets for job management. The remainder use whiteboards and other unreliable manual methods. As such, it's no surprise that job scheduling presents a significant challenge to many organisations.

Let's imagine that a customer has requested a plumber to fix their shower on Thursday at 10:00am. They schedule an appointment with one of your employees, who assigns Dev to the job.

At the same time, another team member is also making a booking for a customer on Thursday at 10:00am. They can see that the customer is based in Wakefield. Dev's 9:00am appointment on Thursday is in Wakefield, so it makes sense to assign him to this job straight after.

Both employees add the bookings to the spreadsheet, not realising that there's a scheduling issue. Unfortunately, on Thursday, Dev finishes his 9:00am booking and realises that he somehow has to be in two places at once.

Now you face the dilemma of either letting one of your customers down or trying to find another plumber nearby who can attend one of the appointments at the last minute. Not ideal.

Luckily, job scheduling issues can become a thing of the past with modern field service management technology. With access to real-time data and an intelligent scheduling assistant, your team can assign technicians to jobs based on location, availability, traffic information, job constraints and vehicle type.

Therefore, you can rest assured that you'll have the right resource in the right place. Every time.

2. Provide Real-Time Connectivity

Data from MarketsandMarkets estimates that the global field service management market will more than double in size between 2019 and 2024. One of the primary reasons for such rapid growth is the increasing demand for mobility solutions that support real-time visibility into field service operations.

In a world where technology can provide real-time connectivity, it doesn't make good business sense to continue banking on phone calls and texts from technicians every time you or your customers need an update. Second-hand information is slow and unreliable, leading to a range of potentially costly issues further down the line.

Modern field service management solutions, such as BigChange, allow you to view your entire operations at the touch of a button and keep everyone in the loop simultaneously.

For example, once your team has scheduled and dispatched engineers, they can send instant messages to your customers, which provides an estimated arrival time. In the meantime, you can see exactly where your technicians are using geolocation vehicle tracking so you can ensure that everyone is on schedule.

Once your technicians are on-site, they can complete pre-determined workflows from their mobile devices, which guarantees that they're carrying out their projects to your high standards. Finally, once the work is finished, they can again use their mobile devices to send essential documents and invoices to the back-office team and customers before marking the job as complete.

It's never been simpler to stay connected with your field-based workers.

3. Promote Efficiency and Productivity

Did you know that around 75% of field service businesses that adopt mobility tools have enjoyed increased employee productivity?

Whilst traditional methods of managing your workflow may get the job done eventually, they are slow, leave a significant margin for error, and are unfit to deal with modern customer expectations.

If your workers often have to arrive at jobs without the information they need to hand, or the information is consistently incorrect, their morale will take a nosedive, and they won't be as productive.

Contrastingly, when you use state-of-the-art field service management software that includes an integrated mobile app, you can provide your technicians with everything they need to know in the palm of their hands. With the ability to access vital information in seconds, your technicians can complete their jobs more promptly and efficiently.

Plus, using the intelligent job scheduling feature, your back-office team can organise each field service engineer's working day in a way that optimises their time. Instead of spending several hours travelling between customers, you can dramatically decrease the amount of time spent on the road by assigning work to your technicians based on proximity and traffic information.

4. Increase First-Time Fix Rates

According to 54% of field technicians, not having access to pre-work site data is the industry's biggest bottleneck. Suppose you expect your field engineers to attend a job without giving them all the information upfront. In that case, it becomes much harder for them to do an adequate job and will likely mean that they'll need to revisit the customer later to complete the work.

On the contrary, when your engineers can access a field service management platform directly from their mobile devices, they can view the most up-to-date case files and ensure that they gain a strong understanding of the customers' requirements before starting the work.

Plus, your back-office staff will have already used the real-time data the job tracking software provides to assign the right stock and equipment to each project, meaning your technicians will never arrive with the wrong gear.

With the proper knowledge and equipment in place, your field technicians won't have to worry about finding a workaround, wasting time going back and forth with your back-office team, or scheduling another appointment with your customers. Instead, they can focus on doing what they do best.

5. Improve Health and Safety

Research from The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows that UK businesses lost a staggering 38.8 million working days due to non-fatal workplace injuries and occupational ill health during 2019-20. Aside from inconveniencing businesses and employees alike, poor health and safety measures can also cause severe reputational and financial damage.

The good news is, by using a field service management system, injuries and illnesses can - for the most part - be avoided. For example, before beginning any job, your field engineers can view method statements and complete risk assessments to ensure that they're operating compliantly.

When required, technicians will need to obtain sign-off on the documents, which are completed on their mobile devices, before they can begin any work.

Furthermore, if a field engineer deems the environment unsafe or believes a hazard could jeopardise the job, they can immediately alert your back-office team. Your employees can then communicate directly with the field technician to mitigate any risks and get the work back on track without compromising anyone's health or safety.

However, for technicians working on the field, customers' sites are not the only place where workplace injuries can happen. A large portion of their day is spent on the road, so you must also consider ways to keep workers safe as they travel between projects.

With a field service management platform like BigChange, you can use the job tracking feature to assess your technicians' driving. Your drivers will then receive a score that you can track over time, meaning you can reward safe behaviour and provide additional training for those who take more risks on the road.

Manage Your Field Technicians More Efficiently with BigChange

BigChange is the complete Job Management Platform that’s helping field service businesses across the UK to win more work, take control of their operations and deliver winning customer experiences.

Bringing together customer relationship management (CRM), job scheduling, live tracking, field resource management, financial management, business intelligence into one simple-to-use and easy-to-integrate platform your business can run on.

Want to find out more?

Discover how our market leading Field Service Management Software can make your business grow stronger here and arrange a freedemo today.

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