The Coventry-based supplier of intruder alarms, CCTV, access control and fire alarm systems, has good cause this week to celebrate finally tackling the automation of paperwork for its field engineers.
"Until a year ago, like so many in our industry, we were still paper-driven," recalls Integra's John Henry. "Our six service engineers were out on the road every day, carrying service dockets for the day's work and could go for up to a week before returning to base. That created the potential for quite lengthy delays in submitting paperwork which then had to be laboriously transcribed by hand onto our CRM system. We were excelling in meeting four-hour turnarounds for callouts but sometimes it was several days before we were aware of secondary client requests. We needed to improve our response. It was a big negative for the business."
In early 2013 Integra started surveying the market for field management software packages. "We looked at the industry standards but felt they were a bit limiting in terms of offer and cost," continues John Henry.
Searching online, Integra also found RedZebra Software, an inexpensive but complete field management system, and John Henry was instantly attracted. "I liked the online demo and it seemed simple to use. So I went to see RedZebra's Richard Crafts, who was able to set it up straight away on my iPad. I sat there in his office immediately trialling the software. It was easy to install, simple, and user-friendly."
In April 2013, Integra began a trial with one engineer. "He had it for a few weeks and he again found it very easy to use on his tablet.
"Now we have all our engineers using it and even when they attend out-of-hours calls, we still have their service reports in the office first thing. Our engineers have taken to it well, our customers are happy to sign the screens instead of paper and we've seen significant improvements in turnaround time for customer information."
Henry found the benefits extending beyond Integra's customer relations to the accounts office. "Working in the intruder alarm market, we have to manage annual maintenance billing as well as billing for callouts. Before RedZebra, annual renewal meant going through a client's accounts invoice by invoice to determine price increases. It could take a couple of hours. We can now do it globally, it takes a maximum of 30 minutes and the records are held much more securely."
Another major benefit to Integra was RedZebra's cost. "When we looked at the industry standards, we were put off by the cost of engineer tablet modules, especially when added to the general cost of the system. We were also discouraged by support, which could be fairly slow – hours or even days.
"RedZebra, on the other hand, is far more cost-effective, using our own tablets, and the support staff are exceptionally helpful. They help us out straight away: it's not a case of raising a service ticket and waiting for a call back."
And very encouraging was a recent audit of Integra by NSI, its accreditation body. "We demonstrated the RedZebra system and they were impressed, saying it was one of the best they'd seen. And that came from someone who's auditing companies every day and sees all the systems, including the industry standards."
Asked to summarise Integra's experience of RedZebra, John Henry concluded: "We're already very good at meeting our four-hour turnaround in service calls but we've now seen a significant improvement in our response to customers' supplementary requests and in our back office efficiency. There's some improvement in our overall service levels and customers accept the new system very readily."
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