Finding the right field service management software can be a challenge; there are tonnes of solutions out there, all offering different features—and adding more every year.
But how will they benefit your business? What integrations do you need? What functionalities? Will you actually use feature X?
Let’s cut through the clutter: These are the 10 key features that will help your field service business improve efficiency, lower costs, delight your customers, and get more jobs in the new year. (For even more info on how to grow your business next year, download our free checklist 10 Steps to Level Up Your Field Service Business in 2019.)
Top 10 Field Service Management Features for 2019
If you’re shopping for a new field service solution, make sure it has these features:
There are a few mistakes people usually make when buying job management software and foregoing some of these key features is one. Read on for more details on each, why it’s important, and how it will help you make 2019 the best year ever for your HVAC, electrical, plumbing and heating, fire and security, or property management business.
One of the most important reasons to use a field service management solution is to be able to easily show customers proof of work and labour, according to an article from Technology Advice: ‘The digital trail [is] one of the most powerful utilities that keeps businesses and their employees safe from legal liability in a number of ways.’
That’s why the ability to take photos, and attach multiple photos to an estimate or job, is a feature to look for in your field service management solution in 2019.
Edit.co.uk compiled a list of voice search stats, and the facts are incredible: 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, sales of voice assistants like Amazon’s Echo are skyrocketing, and the voice recognition market will be a £472 million industry by 2019.
If you, or any of your field service engineers, are on board with the voice search trend, for 2019 you’ll want a field service solution that includes this feature. Even better if the software lets you give Siri voice commands, like asking her to show you where your engineers are.
Going paperless has been a big trend in the last few years. But even if a field service management solution offers paperless tools—like certificates, estimates, and billing—if you can’t capture digital signatures on site it will put a big crimp in your workflow. So when you’re on the search for a better FSM solution in 2019, make this one of the features you ask for.
Smart businesses know how important it is to develop a signature color, logo, and style. So don’t let your carefully developed brand unravel by sending customers generic documents!
Make 2019 the year you create a coherent, consistent brand image by insisting on a field service solution that lets you add your branding to invoices, purchase orders, appointment confirmations, service reminders, and certificates—and that lets you create attractive PDF templates of these documents to send to your customers.
The biggest customer complaint about field service businesses is late engineers, according to our research. And even if an engineer isn’t late, customers don’t like not knowing when the engineer will arrive within that four-hour window you gave them. Will the doorbell ring right as the customer is about to hop into the shower, or run to the corner store for eggs?
That’s why a top FSM software feature for 2019 is an engineer tracking portal that sends an Uber-style link so the customer can see the engineer’s route to their location and the current ETA.
Look for an engineer tracking portal that gives customers the ability to access all the engineers’ information, like pictures or ID, so they’ll know exactly who will be showing up. Research from Heating & Plumbing Monthly shows that a third of women are too trusting of tradesmen—so letting customers know who the engineer is, and what their credentials are, increases customer safety and trust.
A good field service solution will integrate with your email communication platforms like MailChimp, Outlook, and Gmail. But what about your phone communications?
In an article for Field Technologies Online, Ivan Moore of Jolt Consulting Group says customers dislike having to repeat information they’ve already provided via your interactive voice response system. Not only that, Moore says, but failing to pre-populate your FSM system with the customer’s records based on their phone number creates friction and frustration.
That’s what makes an integration with a phone system a key FSM feature for 2019. This feature will bring up a window with all the relevant customer data whenever a customer calls—so your office staff will always know who’s calling and why, and be able to serve them right away.
‘If you’re using a manual scheduling tool, or automated scheduling that simply picks the closest field engineer, your business performance and customer satisfaction rates could be taking a hit,’ says Ben Smye of Capterra. ‘What you need is intelligent scheduling.’
Helps you fit more jobs into the day.
Offers customers shorter service times and smaller service windows.
Helps you save on fuel and maintenance costs for your service vehicles by generating the most efficient routes.
As Capterra says, ‘Your automated scheduling tool could be costing you thousands!’ If you’re looking for a new field service management solution in 2019, make sure it has an intelligent scheduling feature.
A full set of integrations to the software you already use—such as QuickBooks, Stripe, and Gmail—helps you get up and running without too steep a learning curve, and boosts buy-in from your staff. But what if you use an app that doesn’t integrate with any of the field service solutions you’re considering for 2019?
That’s where an open, extensive API (Application Programming Interface) comes in: It lets you integrate your core business apps with your FSM software. That’s why, when Capterra compiled their list of the top 20 most user-friendly field service solutions, one of the criteria they considered was open API. Be sure the solution you choose offers this feature, and you’ll reap the benefits of a streamlined workflow and ease of use with the apps you already know.
We’re sure you’ve experienced this: A customer cancels at the last minute, or an engineer doesn’t have the right tools for the job, and you’re scrambling to redo the entire job schedule.
A feature that handles schedule changes on the fly can help you get right back on track. This feature suggests an adjustment to the office staff; if it’s approved, the software automatically updates the engineer’s diary.
You probably already track your customers—so level up in 2019 by looking for a field service solution that also lets you track your suppliers. A supplier-tracking feature shows your purchase orders and money owed, and lets you quickly request and compare parts prices. Streamlining your supplier management will let you do jobs faster, which makes both you and your customers happier.
Here’s to a happy, healthy, and profitable new year! For even more help, download our free checklist, 10 Steps to Level Up Your Field Service Business in 2019, below.