The Field Service Business’s Guide to Going Paperless in the Office

Linda Formichelli

Are you surrounded by teetering stacks of job notes, invoices, purchase orders, customer files, stock management forms, and receipts? Then you’re wasting time and money—and possibly turning off your customers too.

We covered the reasons a field service business might want to ditch the paper—from saving resources to avoiding the risk of lost documents—in our post on how to go (mostly) paperless. That post also offers an overview of how to make it happen.

Today, we’ll give you more specific information on how to turn three key parts of your business paperless: your customer experience, marketing, and parts management.

Want even more expert advice on automating your plumbing and heating, HVAC, electrical, fire and security, or property management business? Download our free checklist 10 Steps to Level Up Your Field Service Business in 2019.

(Also: Next week we’ll get into how to go paperless on the road, which includes streamlining your scheduling and fleet management. Be sure to subscribe to the Commusoft Business Blog so you’ll be the first to know when the new post is live.)

6 Tips for Going Paperless in the Office

Here are some paperless office solutions that will help your field service business make the leap.

 

  1. Instead of searching through paper records to know which customers need servicing...send automated service reminders.

  2. Instead of ignoring your customers once the job is done (because it’s too time-consuming to keep track of your customers and jobs)...automate your follow-ups and review requests.

  3. Instead of using messy paper forms to track and manage stock...use a digital stock management system.

  4. Instead of visiting local supply stores to pick up parts and then storing the receipts...order parts online.

  5. Instead of this sending paper postcards or flyers to market to your field service customers...market via automated email.

  6. Instead of this wading through paper customer files and then calling customers to ask for their feedback...email customer surveys.

Read on to learn more about how to implement each of these tips, including expert-approved resources to help you get started.

Create a Paperless Customer Experience

It takes more than great service to keep customers coming back. Excellent customer service, skilled engineers, and fast, efficient repairs and maintenance are the baseline, not a selling point. Going paperless will set you apart from all the other field service businesses offering...well, excellent customer service, skilled engineers, and fast, efficient repairs and maintenance.

A paperless office lets you service customers even quicker, personalise your communications, and show your love by staying in touch after the job is over. Here’s how to make the switch from paper-dependent to paperless to improve the customer experience.

Instead of this:

Searching through paper records to know which customers need servicing.

Try this:

Sending automated service reminders.

Want a good way to turn your customers into your biggest fans? Send them an automated reminder when their equipment and appliances need maintenance, so they don’t have to remember—and so they’re not stuck without heat in the winter, AC in the summer, or a working alarm system during the holiday season.

3 Service Reminder Resources to Get You Started

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Service Reminders

Like the title says: Learn what a service reminder is, why you should be sending them, and how to create service reminders that will have customers calling you again and again.

How to Write a Powerful Service Reminder

For even more help, download our two free examples of service reminder templates, which make it easy for you to take advantage of this important tool.

Commusoft’s Automated Service Reminder Feature

Ready to move towards a paperless office by automating your service reminders? Watch a free demo of Commusoft’s service reminder feature in action.

Instead of this:

Ignoring your customers after the job is over, because it’s a pain to keep track of your customers and jobs. (Who has the time to shuffle through all those paper records, anyway?)

Try this:

Sending automated follow-ups and review requests.

Once the job is done, many field service businesses forget all about the customer—especially during busy periods. Then a slow time hits and these same businesses wonder where all the customers are. The problem: If your office is paper-based, it’s too difficult to track jobs and send follow-ups at the end of them.

Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, show your customers they’re more than just numbers to you by using paperless office software—such as your field service management system—to automatically check in with customers and ask for reviews.

3 Customer Follow-Up Resources to Get You Started

10 Ways to Get More Online Reviews for Your Trade Company

Discover how to get customers to actually respond to your automated review requests. This post shows you how to use review badges, employee challenges, customer incentives, and more.

Perfecting Your Customer Follow-Up

We share the top problems field service companies have with customer follow-up—and, or course, the solutions.

Commusoft’s After-Sales Care Portal

Learn about the easy (paperless!) way to get customer feedback, recognise problems in your business, and implement changes that will improve your recurring revenue.

Create Paperless Stock Control

Using a paper-based system to manage your stock can cause many headache-inducing problems for your field service business:

  • You have to rely on your engineers to tell the office staff which parts they're using—which they may not do if they’re busy.

  • If you don’t properly track the parts you’re using, you might neglect to charge for all the parts on your invoices.

  • Paper stock forms are easy to damage or lose.

  • When you need a part for a job, you may discover that the bin that held the part is now empty.

We’ll show you how to ease that headache through paperless office solutions.

Instead of this:

Relying on paper forms to track and manage stock.

Try this:

Using a stock management system.

A digital stock management system—or an FSM solution that has a stock management feature—lets you replace messy stock sheets with a simple, streamlined program that makes it easier to keep track of your stock.

3 Stock Management Resources to Get You Started

The 6 Biggest Challenges in Managing Stock (And How to Overcome Them)

You’re overstocking, so your stock goes "bad" before you can use it. Your supplier doesn't have the parts you need. You have the parts you need but you can’t find them. Here, we talk about your six biggest stock management problems and the solutions.

Free Stock Management Spreadsheets

Taking baby steps towards a totally automated paperless office solution? That’s a smart way to ease into the change and make sure it sticks. Let Commusoft help you with these free Excel stock management spreadsheets.

Best Practices for Creating and Organising a Stockroom

Before you start using your paperless stock management system, you’ll need to get your stockroom...well, stocked up and organised. This post will show you how, with advice from a field service business owner and plenty of helpful resources.

Instead of this:

Visiting local supply stores to pick up parts, and using paper purchase orders.

Try this:

Ordering parts online.

Sure, you could drive out to a supply store, pick up parts for a job, file the receipt in a paper filing system, and manually add the receipt data to your customer invoice—if you enjoy wasting time and resources.

Instead, why not develop a relationship with an online parts supplier? Then you can automatically send purchase orders via your field service management system and get back to your work, confident that the parts will arrive on time.

3 Parts Resources to Get You Started

The Easiest Way to Order Parts: Q&A with Paul Harrison of Wolseley

Paul Harrison, eBusiness Engagement Manager at Wolseley, shares his tips for how to choose and develop a relationship with an online parts supplier.

Free Demo of Commusoft’s Supplier Management Software

Learn how a paperless office solution like Commusoft can give you a complete overview of all your suppliers—including their contact details, the purchase orders held with each, and the amount of money you owe.

Webinar: Overview of the PartsArena Pro and Commusoft Integration

Discover how Commusoft’s PartsArena Pro integration will help you manage and keep track of parts, ensure your engineer has the right part on site, help your engineers complete more jobs each day, and more. Watch the webinar right here, or click the link above to open it in a new window.

 

Create a Paperless Marketing Strategy

Sending marketing materials through the post turns marketing from a fun and profitable task into a time-intensive and pricy chore. Having to go through hard-copy customer files to know who to send what doesn’t help, either.

The prospect of dealing with all that paper may cause you to ditch marketing altogether—which will come back to haunt you during slow periods. Keep reading for the scoop on how to un-paper your marketing, so you can attract more customers with less effort.

Instead of this:

Sending paper postcards or flyers to market to your field service customers.

Try this:

Marketing via automated email.

Save the environment, save money, and improve your results by sending personalised, efficient automated emails. When you set up your marketing communications in advance, your paperless solution will work for you while you sleep.

3 Automated Email Resources to Get You Started

The Small Business Guide to Em@il Marketing from SimplyBusiness

Use this very cool interactive infographic to learn about the legal side of email marketing, the different types of marketing email, how to increase your open rates, and much more.

How to Get New Business with Email Automation

This thorough tutorial will teach you everything from how email automation can help your business to how to write marketing emails people want to read. This post includes an infographic on the best day to send field service emails.

MailChimp Integration Webinar

Are you a Commusoft client, or thinking about becoming one? Check out this special recorded webinar on integrating your Commusoft account with MailChimp; just click the link to open it in a new window, or watch the webinar right here.

 

Instead of this:

Wading through paper customer files and then calling customers to ask for their feedback—or, worse, never asking for customers’ opinions and suggestions because you don’t have the time.

Try this:

Emailing customer surveys.

Sending customer surveys—via that automated email we talked about earlier—will streamline the entire process of gathering feedback and suggestions. That means you can easily tap into your customers’ insights to create promotions and marketing they’ll love.

3 Customer Survey Resources to Get You Started

How to Create Customer Satisfaction Surveys That Work

Here’s how to pick the best survey platform, ask the right questions, send an automated email that will make customers want to fill it out, and take action on the results.

Survey Anyplace

Tired of same-old-same-old customer surveys? Survey Anyplace lets you create fun, engaging surveys that customers actually enjoy taking. Even better, the basic service is free, and each paid level comes with a seven-day trial.

How to Run a Successful (and Legal) Promotional Prize Draw from BusinessAdvice

Offering a prize is a good way to entice customers to respond to your survey—and the more customers who respond, the more accurate your results will be and the more valuable suggestions you’ll collect. This article shows you how to do it, while not running foul of the GDPR.

The Path to Paperless

This resource post to going paperless in the office is just a start. Be sure to check out next week’s post on going paperless on the road...and download our free checklist 10 Steps to Level Up Your Field Service Business in 2019  below to help your business get ready for full automation in the new year.

Checklist ten steps to level up your field service business

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If you want to learn more about Commusoft's field service software, please see our product blog.