There are all sorts of reasons why someone might be looking to buy a job management software. For yourself, it could be one of the following:
- You’ve never used dedicated software and think it’s about time to upgrade?
- You've used a custom-built software, but it’s no longer working the way you need it to?
- You’ve heard about all the benefits of automating and are keen to try it for yourself?
These are all interesting reasons to think about, and at Commusoft, we understandably have conversations like this all the time.
During one such chat, I spoke to our Sales Manager, Jack Sargent, where we discussed the reasons why businesses might purchase SaaS, where he commented on how buying habits have changed:
“Customers are more experienced, they understand what the technology can offer and what it can do, or what it can free them up to do.”
After all, with an increased amount of tech influencing us personally, with mobiles, tablets, and IoT, making our lives more convenient, it makes sense that customers are more clued up about the benefits that a digital solution can bring to their business.
There are certainly a lot of benefits to be gained from adopting a software solution, but there’s also a bigger question that can be a little trickier to answer:
How exactly do you go about making the right decision?
With a bit of insight from Jack, that’s precisely what we’re here to help answer. With our 5 tips, you can approach buying a job management software for your field service business.
- “Get a software that is suitable for the field service industry”
- “How many reviews have they got?”
- “How long have they been around for?”
- “Where's the support team based?”
- “Getting a demo from sales is good, but real-life recommendations are better.”
1. “Get software that’s suitable for the field service industry”
It may sound obvious, but it can be easier than you think to be duped into buying a piece of software that’s unsuitable for your business.
Just think about the last five years (or, alternatively, think ahead five years). You’ll no doubt have changed a lot in that time. Whether it’s more staff, a bigger customer base, additional services being offered, and more besides…
Imagine, then, being locked into a contract or having to use a software that makes it difficult for you to adapt and change. There may be features you don’t need, or worse, features may be missing and so they’re unable to help in the way you want!
The solution? Really consider why you want to buy software and what you want to use it for. As Jack elaborates:
“For field service companies, the right software could mean that engineers can do more jobs in a day. It means companies can make more money. It means the office team, rather than spending their days copying data between two systems, can spend time contacting customers and see how they're getting on, or send out service reminders and think of other ways to increase revenue. They can start doing these things instead.”
Perhaps you don’t need every feature under the sun that the provider offers: it could be that you want to make storing your customer data easier, or enhance your scheduling. Whatever it may be, once you figure out what you want from a software, you then need to make sure that your chosen solution meets those requirements.
If that’s the case, dig a little deeper than simply asking: “can it fix this problem”? You should buy software because you know it serves the purpose you need it for and because it has the potential to grow with you. This can and should be part of the conversation you have with a business before you sign up to any contract.
There may then be particular service plans that the provider offers which could suit your business better than another. After all, more expensive doesn’t automatically mean more efficient, and starting with a simpler package could also make getting to grips with a new software much easier, especially if it’s presented in a user-friendly way.
A solution that helps you to easily manage customer data and store information (going paperless, as an example), is a great place to start.
2. “How many reviews have they got?”
It’s certainly true that people like to buy from popular brands and popularity depends a lot on what people are saying about a company. A customer review can provide a useful, impartial perspective.
"Fortunately," says Jack, “there's so much content now online, videos, and articles and blogs, et cetera, that people can generally answer a lot of the questions themselves”.
You can review 10’s or even 100’s of companies if you so wished, with very little effort but still generate a lot of useful insight.
“Personally,” continues Jack, “the first thing I would do is take a look and see what everyone else thinks. I'll read through testimonials and really make sure it's gonna be a good fit based on what other businesses are saying.”
You likely do this already when you’re looking to buy other products. Think about when you’re browsing on Amazon, or even scrolling through the App Store on your iPhone. You keep an eye out for the 4-5 star ratings, perhaps even paying those more attention than the actual brand or product itself! After all, those little stars (and the number next to them) suggest trust, reliability and positivity, which is precisely what you’re on the lookout for.
It’s a time-saving technique - people want convenience after all, and just like Jack said, it’s easier than ever to compare and contrast the wealth of solutions that are available to you.
Even a little insight can go a long way to giving you the positive and negatives that help you understand if a software is right for your business.
3. “How long have they been around for?”
Speaking of time, it makes sense to pick a software from a provider that updates regularly and makes a clear effort to interact with their customers. You can judge this in a number of ways.
For example, think about reviews:
- What was the date of the most recent review?
- When did the company last respond to a review?
- Have recent reviews been positive, or negative?
How about blogs? This might sound a little more unusual to check, but a lot of software providers (should) do their best to provide advice and guidance for their customers; not only does it show engagement with their community, but it suggests they’re genuinely invested in the well-being of their customers too.
So, if they have a blog:
- How recently did they post?
- What was it about?
- Does any of what they’re saying ring true with your own thoughts about your industry?
It may seem a minor thing, but engagement in this way can give you an idea of what might be going on behind the scenes. If they’re making an effort to deliver relevant content, perhaps they’re also making an effort to keep their software up to date (like we do)!
This should be a priority when it comes to picking you job management solution. After all, the very reason that you might be upgrading to a new solution is because your current solution is outdated and inefficient, so you don’t want to get duped into buying software that’s not being regularly updated, only to find that 6 months later, things aren’t working as you’d hoped and that you have to upgrade again.
Reviews and blog posts, as mentioned, are great ways to keep tabs on this. If customers are leaving reviews and commenting regularly about great service, with regular updates and more, then you’re on the right track. In addition, blog posts that focus on minor or major feature releases will be particularly important to note. It’s a clear effort on the part of a business to show they’re optimisation and tweaking features for their customers: it’s an indication of their competence and commitment to quality and, additionally, is a good sign they’ll be making an effort in other areas, like support…
4. “Where's the support team based?”
On a practical level, it matters where you’re going to get your support from. While the way we engage around the world makes us more connected than ever before, it’s still true that where a support team is physically based can be a dealbreaker for some companies.
After all, if a support team is based in the US, or perhaps out in Australia, that’s not going to work for most businesses who’ll be based in the UK, especially if you’re working to strict hours and you need responses sooner, rather than later.
That’s not to say support teams outside of the UK won’t work, but that’s precisely why you need to figure out if you’re going to be able to contact the support team, at all. Knowing that there’s a team who is present and available to help you is a much more encouraging sign than one who seems resigned to silence.
It’s true that many field service businesses work all hours of the day, and you certainly know when’s best for you and your colleagues to get the help you need. However, the last thing you want is to have to wait hours or even days whilst a technical issue with your software prevents you from completing the work you’re doing.
It can mean you lose money, customers, and your workload suffers as a result. Even if it’s not an emergency, perhaps you’ve got a question about a process that you need help with: if you aren’t able to get the help you need, then that can be frustrating too.
That’s where the aforementioned blogs can come in handy, as well as additional support being offered, as well as a knowledge base to get help, or perhaps in the form of an automated response, like a web pages robot. Knowing there are a range of solutions to help you out too can be the difference between being able to get that help, or not.
5. “Getting a demo from sales is good, but real-life recommendations are better”
Rarely should you ever buy a product without first seeing how it works, particularly if it’s something that can be as dramatic a change as job management software. Watching a demo video, or playing a game that gives you an idea of how a system works are all excellent examples to quickly see how a product functions. But what about someone’s real-world experience?
We’ve already touched on reviews, but if you’re able to reach out and interact with a current user of a particular software and understand their experience, it can be immensely valuable. You can see a practical, real-world use of the software in action and understand exactly how certain systems work:
“Going to a client who's been using it for months or years; they'll simply have a lot of data in it to give you a real-world view of what it's like to use a system. If a customer can tell you a solution saved us X hours a week in terms of bookings or, you know, we've managed to generate an extra 10-20 jobs a month from service reminders,”
It’s precisely the thing that might make you go wow! And understand with more clarity if something is right for your business.
Whether it’s programmes like automated stock control, intelligent scheduling, or vehicle tracking, seeing these work for real, gives you a whole new perspective that can be refreshing and in other cases, eye-opening to the potential that’s on offer for your business.
You might be eager to make improvements in your own business, but you know better than to just buy any old software solution and be done with it. A decision like this has the power to really drive your business forward, make you more efficient and help you to grow, so it deserves to be done right.
The insight here will hopefully help guide you decision making and it never hurts to get a fresh perspective on what could, in no small part, could be a major decision for you company. The right software has the ability to empower your decision making and super charge your efficiency, so it makes sense to keep these points in mind when it comes to buying.
For more advice on how you can optimise your business, or to make the most out of solutions you already have in place, why not check out our Checklist to Efficient CRM Management? With 18 points to investigate you can really dive in to see if you’re making the most of your database system.