RedZebra's software dashboard, screenshot

Digital Transformation in the Field Service Industry

It’s an interesting time for digital transformation right now. Many businesses have had the need for it thrust upon them by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has forced many to accelerate their progression to digital at huge speed owing to the need to minimise face-to-face contact between employees. But although the pandemic has made the need for digitalisation more pressing, it was already something that forward-thinking businesses in the field service industry were embracing. 

In today’s post, we’re going to be looking at why a digital transformation strategy is a vital part of future proofing your field service business, and the various ways in which your business can benefit from adapting your ways of working. By the time you’ve finished reading this post, we hope we’ll have convinced you that buying into the concept of digital field service management at this critical juncture will be more than just a sensible response to Covid-19; it will be a minimum requirement if you’re to cut it in the post-Covid world.

Common issues with traditional field service management

Let’s start with the background: the traditional way of doing things. From laboriously filling in job sheets manually to trying to organise staff while providing a modern customer service solution, everything is more of a challenge when you’re using traditional field service management solutions…

Time-consuming paperwork

There’s no two ways about it – filling in traditional job sheets, paper invoices and other bits of paperwork is time-consuming when you have to do it by hand. More time means higher costs, and that’s without getting started on the fact that paper admin is difficult to file, easily lost or damaged and tricky to read if your employees aren’t known for their beautiful handwriting.

Data errors

Another disadvantage of older methods of recording data is that they’re prone to errors. This is because data is often housed across different and sometimes outdated systems, which also take a lot of time to maintain and upgrade when they’re no longer fit for purpose. Your staff may have become used to these systems, but there comes a time when a change is needed for the benefit of everyone in the business.

Document duplication

In more traditional settings, data inevitably needs to be duplicated to ensure that all the relevant staff have access to the information they need. The problem is, duplicating documents is a waste of valuable company resources that could be deployed elsewhere. For example, a field service engineer might spend an extra two hours a week duplicating invoices for clients so that office staff have a copy. This extra time adds up, and if it were to be saved, that engineer might be able to fit in one extra job per month.

How to go digital

So much for the disadvantages of the old way of doing things. But how do you get started with updating your processes to digital? Here at RedZebra, we’ve helped many field service companies on their digital transformation journey, and we know from experience that there are a few key ways to help your business adapt and succeed on the path to digital transformation. Let’s take a look in more detail.

Define success

The first step is to define what a good digital system would look like in your organisation. Find the opportunities for improving your processes and saving costs, and also take the time to define any potential roadblocks, such as the time it will take to implement the new system (you’ll need to ensure that this doesn’t clash with important projects, for example). It’s inevitable that there will be some short-term disruption while you implement and adjust to a new system, but the long-term benefits far out way any temporary disadvantages.

Appoint digital leaders

Next, it’s a good idea to appoint ‘digital leaders’, whose championing of the new way of working will encourage the rest of your team by leading by example. Ask senior employees to embrace the new system and encourage early adoption, as this will help bring the rest of the team on board.

Build workforce capabilities

You’ll need to invest some time and resources into building digital skills for your workforce, as this will help empower them to embrace new ways of working for the future. If your business is new to a digital framework, we’re able to help with training your team.

Reasons to go digital

We’ve worked with countless companies who’ve made the switch to digital field service management, and it’s fair to say that they haven’t looked back. One such customer is London-based Technical Services, whose implementation of RedZebra field service management software has been a resounding success. 

“We needed something far more efficient than having to look through archive paperwork, the diary and a spreadsheet in order to check on the equipment held by customers,” says Pam Green, the company’s service administrator. “We’ve been in the business 30 years and we always go the extra mile. We wanted a system that could do the same. What RedZebra offered met our needs and was nice and simple to use, not too involved.

As Technical Services found, there are numerous benefits to field service digital transformation. Here are just a few…

Improve employee productivity

Let’s start with the biggest one: improving employee engagement and productivity. Digital transformation enables the automation of some routine admin tasks, as well as giving you the ability to connect with other services (such as accounting software). This creates a unified communications and data management solution that works for everyone, from your field service engineers to your office support staff and management. 

The upshot of this is that you boost employee productivity, because they’re no longer having to spend time on unnecessary admin. For example, engineer tracking software helps track an engineer’s location, which reduces the need for calls, which in turn helps with schedule efficiency and improving overall productivity. 

Similarly, call management software allows office staff to log customer calls, schedule jobs and quickly assign an engineer to a client, all within a matter of minutes. With everything contained within a centralised database, this makes information easily accessible, so tasks are completed more speedily – which in turn can free up time for taking on more calls.

Provide efficient customer service

Clients and customers today have higher expectations in all industries, and companies must rise to this challenge if they’re to offer the level of customer service expected of them. Customers expect to be offered a digital solution to manage their account effectively and efficiently, and a good example of this is paperless billing for utilities, such as electricity. The same applies to field service management.

RedZebra’s software provides a customer-centric approach to managing clients for your field service business, with a customer management module that holds all customer data in one central place. This speeds up everyday tasks and keeps customers satisfied, as well as giving you the option of allowing them to access their own account details if required. This gives your customers a sense of security, as all data is stored securely, and this in turn helps to improve the customer-client relationship – something that’s particularly important in times of crisis.

Save time and money

As we’ve already touched on, another great thing about digital transformation is the hours of time it can save you on the endless paperwork and multiple calls your business inevitably has to deal with. This translates to cost savings, despite the initial set-up and training costs necessary to get staff fluent in the new software. This short-term pain will be a long-term gain for staff, customers and your bottom line alike.

Unexpected benefits

As if these benefits weren’t already enough, there are even more bonuses to going digital that you may not have thought of…

Boost employee morale

A side effect of going digital is the morale boost it can give to your employees. This is because employees often report that being given the right tools makes them feel empowered to do their jobs better in companies that modernise in line with standard best practice.

Boost customer retention rates

We’ve seen the customer service benefits of upgrading your systems to digital field management. You don’t need us to tell you that happy customers mean better customer retention – and you may even find that this leads to more referral business if customers are happy with the fantastic service you’re providing as a result of switching to digital.

In short, there’s never been a better time to go digital with your field service business. Get in touch today for an online demonstration, email [email protected] or call our team on 01296 350350.