A Guide to Customer Relationship Management for your Field Service Business

Rhys Pattimore
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Adapting to change has its challenges. Whether it’s getting to grips with new processes, handling additional growth, or keeping staff positive. But have you reflected on what results those changes can bring?

As you’ve taken the necessary steps to digitalise your business, it’s safe to say you’ve seen a lot of change.

While it’s not always been easy, it will have taught you a great deal about what has worked, what hasn’t, and what may yet need to change. After all, looking back at where you’ve been can often help you understand how best to move ahead. That's true no matter what stage of the journey you're at: whether you're going paperless, setting up your customer database, or simply weighing up your options.

In this post, we invite you to reflect on your progress and consider the impact of implementing a CRM database, not just your business, but on your staff and customers, too.

Our 5 points are structured as a statement-and-question and we've also prepared an 18 Point Checklist to help you take things even further! Altogether, this feature is designed to get your mental gears whirring, so be sure to have a good think about the points raised here, then download the checklist to dive deeper!

We don't recommend that you rush the process. Instead, take the time to ensure your decisions are well thought out and that you're happy with your targets.

With that in mind, let’s get started: 

  1. Get everyone on-board: How have your staff responded?

  2. Make it a shared decision: Are you continuing to consult staff?

  3. Establish clear selection criteria: Are you actually getting what you want from your CRM?

  4. Think mobile: Is your tech taking you further?

  5. Create roles for implementation and beyond: How well are you organised internally?

1. Get everyone on-board: How have your staff responded?

Undergoing change within your business should be an ongoing team effort. Whether you’re using a simple database to store information, or fully integrated with a range of digital perks: it’s critical that everyone—from the office staff to the engineers—continues to understand why your database is important.

We’ve previously spoken about how understanding your data helps with customer retention, and in particular, the importance of listening to customer feedback. Similarly, staff feedback carries weight as well. However, it begs the question: do you know how your staff have been affected? Are they happy with how things are working now?

The old adage “no news is good news” does not apply here! 

If you don’t know, or even if you only have a vague idea, you should make an effort to find out. You’ll open yourself up to useful insights and observations you may not have previously considered, especially if you're hands-off in another role. For example, are staff struggling with a new booking system? Is the CRM software saving them as much admin time as hoped?

Don’t be put off by the fact that some people—and this may even include your most committed members of staff—will still have doubts. A concern doesn't mean you should stop using your system though, but you can combat doubts by preparing solutions. For example, offer additional time for retraining, or prepare one-to-one meetings to discuss queries in more detail.

A little effort can go a long way to making sure that best practices are being followed, that your staff feel valued, and productivity improves day-to-day.

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2. Make it a shared decision:  Are you continuing to consult staff?

An ongoing project—like database implementation—is more likely to succeed if your team feel they have a stake in its success. Did you involve anyone else in your initial decision making process?

You should continue (or otherwise start) having discussions with the relevant people within your team. Whether you’re clarifying best practices, listening to pain points, or simply laying the land for future progress, it’s in your best interest to consult staff on a regular basis.

Let's say, for example, you've personally been looking at new software and narrowed it down to three options. However, even after various demos and sales calls, you're still uncertain which one to select. At this point (if not sooner) you should involve another senior, trusted members of your company.

Whether it's your Lead Engineer, Operations Officer, or IT Manager, make sure you highlight the fact that a well organised and useful customer database will continue to keep your company healthy and assist with your next level of growth

Important: encourage your team members to express their opinions too. You may not always be in full agreement, but if the process is open and transparent, the implementation and continued use of your CRM is much more likely to proceed smoothly. Frequent, open conversations, will always help you to make better decisions.

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3. Establish clear selection criteria: Are you getting everything you want from your CRM?

Cost was likely (or will be) an important factor when it came to your chosen CRM, but did you consider that in broad terms? 

It’s often a mistake to base your decision on a simple comparison of initial up-front costs (like cost per user). However, whether you’re 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years into the use of your chosen programme, you’ve likely had a chance to understand what it has and will be capable of helping you achieve. So, are you getting value for money?

A good way to start thinking about it is to ask yourself this question: “What has my system added to my business?”

From there, you can break it down further: 

  • How well has it integrated into my day-to-day business life?
  • Has this solution offered the best for my entire business?
  • Are we saving time on administration tasks?
  • Have we noticed an increase in customer satisfaction or increased revenue?
  • Is this the easiest system to use? 
  • Have I gotten the best training possible with my chosen service? 
  • What on-going support have I gotten? Have I ever needed it?

Depending on how you answer these questions, you’ll likely have some decisions to make. The important thing is that these questions give you the opportunity to gain perspective, assess your successes, and—potentially—even reassess your options. 

Commusoft provides an all-in-one solution to help manage your business.
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4. Think mobile: Is your tech taking you further?

The world has gone mobile. It’s highly likely you’re reading this on your phone right now! With that being the case, you’ll be familiar with the benefits this brings, allowing you to connect and operate with efficiency from just about anywhere.

Mobile technology continues to produce exciting developments for any company whose business is conducted in the field; whether it be gas, plumbing, or electrical services. You'll want to make sure you're doing all you can to remain competitive.

If you’re interested in tech solutions, like vehicle tracking, then look no further than the Commusoft vehicle tracking app.

"Levelling-up" your business in this way doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune either, but with the right software and decent hardware, you'll soon see the benefits for yourself.

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You should also make sure that information is easy to access for everyone who needs it. When your entire team—from service engineers, office staff, marketers, to sales—can all access correct information in a timely manner, stronger customer experiences happen. This is especially true for the more complex, relationship-based interactions with high-value business customers that you’ll be targeting as you expand.

5. Create roles for implementation and beyond: How well are you organised internally?

Whether it’s you personally, or a Project Leader, you’ve established dedicated roles to get the most out of your system...right?

Have your staff received training and know where to find guidelines for any queries?

Whatever your answers, you should consider that the following roles are assigned to make sure you’re getting the most of your system: 

  • The system administrator – the person who is empowered to make changes to the system, assign other roles, and is generally responsible for the integrity of the data 
  • The person who is responsible for ensuring that the data is backed up (typically you would want to do a daily backup.)
  • Someone responsible for invoices & tracking payments
  • Manager (with access e.g. to personnel data) 
  • User (administrators) 
  • User (engineers) 

More sophisticated systems obviously support these different roles and allow you to assign the appropriate authorisations. When assigning these, make sure that everyone in your organisation has access to the information they need, so that effort is not wasted (you may not want everyone able to send invoices, after all).

We'd suggest that all members of the team have access to a customer’s name, contact details, job history, service history, and relevant appliance information. However, you will probably want to make some data (such as the profitability of an individual customer), visible only to yourself and one or two key members of staff.

If you’re not measuring results, then you certainly can’t manage them. Check out our blog on employee performance management and how it can deliver results.

The Takeaway

While we’re sure you’re doing a great job, it never hurts to take stock and reflect on how things have been going. Taking your business through significant change is not always going to be easy, but it’s certainly not impossible, you just need to stay focused and follow your plan. 

Be positive as well. No matter what the answers to some of these questions might reveal, the insights will be useful and help you take your business further—they may even show you're already on the right track!

That said (and as we promised) if you want to keep track of the changes you’re making, and even plan for more to come, then you're sure to find our 18 Point Checklist useful. With more guidance and additional questions to get you thinking about areas to improve, you can download your copy today. It would be especially useful to run through the information in this blog and consider the questions in the list with your team, together in more detail. You can download it for FREE below!

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