Penrod Blog

5 Ways Digital Is Changing Communication in the Field

Digital communication is changing how field service organizations provide exceptional service to their customers. It’s also helping make service tech’s jobs more productive and hassle-free. Penrod surveyed the landscape and drilled down key ways for how digital communication can improve your business.

Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), people are more interconnected than ever. IoT is the concept of connecting any and every electronic device to the Internet, allowing them to send and receive data. Think cell phones, home security, and wearable devices. Of course, IoT extends far beyond personal or even office use. That’s right, digital advances are reaching outside of the office and into the field. Here are five ways digital is changing – and improving – communication within field service management.

1. Improving the Customer Service Experience

Individuals were the first to jump onto the digital bandwagon for their personal use, and online businesses quickly responded. Now, however, customers expect digital customer service to go beyond online shopping – and it has. Today field service staff can alert customers about services, arrival times, and even send them requests to review the service. Customers are even able to schedule or reschedule a work order in real-time, something unheard of even a few years ago. This focus on the customer experience can help businesses ensure customer loyalty, as well as positively raise your business’s profile through the power of online reviews and social media. A win-win for customers and business owners.

2. Offering AR, VR, and Remote Assistance

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are true game-changers for techs working in the field. Virtual reality can help train technicians before they even get into the field by putting them in a virtual “gemba” – Japanese for “in the place.” This allows techs to fine-tune their skills via simulations, so when they get in the field they can quickly and accurately perform their work.

Augmented reality apps and tools, such as smart glasses, can work in a similar way, providing technicians an overlay of machines in the field. This is helpful when a technician has been dispatched but has an issue or would like a second opinion. Instead of dispatching another team member to assist, augmented glasses can connect techs remotely, saving time and money. For smaller or less-complicated jobs, techs can use smart glasses to see what the customer sees and provide live, step-by-step instructions.

3. Automating Asset Alerts

Your business assets are important, especially machinery. Most field service organizations maintain a variety of assets, such as plants, property, or equipment, and these could be spread across several locations. Given this spread, it’s a major challenge to manage them all, but thanks to digital communications, you can more easily keep an eye on things. With field service management software, you can connect with your assets to help you better manage and maintain them. By enabling remote monitoring, you can see where assets are and what they need in real time. You can also set automated alerts to let you know if something is ready for scheduled maintenance, and if something is malfunctioning, technicians will get an alert immediately so you can act quickly to mitigate damage or lost time.

4. Technician Performance Reporting

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it or make improvements. One of the challenges of effectively managing field service employees is making sure they are doing what they do best – working out in the field. Since they may be out of view, how can you reward and encourage excellence? Field service software can help by providing key field performance metrics. With it, you can easily track work orders that are open, in progress, or closed no matter what their location. You also have the ability to view reports on individual as well as team performance. This can help you benchmark excellence and set goals in place to improve work order efficiency.

5. Integrating Timesheet and HR Systems

A natural complement to tracking jobs is integrating time sheets and HR systems. For years, field service technicians had to create manual work orders at job sites and then bring them back to the office for entry. This increased the risk of data entry error. Today, with field service management software, techs can enter information right from the field. Not only does this eliminate the need to enter information into multiple systems, it reduces the chance of errors and saves time, and as any business owner knows, time is money.

Digital communication has changed things in the office, and now it is transforming communication in the field. Tapping into mobile connectivity is easier than ever. Don’t miss out – make sure you’re leveraging this technology to increase customer satisfaction, streamline services, and boost your bottom line.