Why Training Matters: Kick-start your Field Service Team with Automation

Rhys Pattimore
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“Software helps us to streamline, to automate, it helps us reduce errors, and lower costs. The more you understand how these products work, the more value you get in return.”

That nugget of wisdom comes from Nisha, Client Operations Manager here at Commusoft.

You may have seen some of our recent posts, with her and other industry experts providing insight on job management software and automation. In those, we discussed themes around cash flow, stock control, and office tasks. Today, however, we wanted to highlight something that’s been on everyone’s lips: training. 

If you’re reading this, you’re likely here because you’re looking for advice on training. Perhaps you're trying to improve the way your team makes use of the software. Well, you’re in luck!

There’s a great deal of advice for you to take on board, both when it comes to considering and understanding the value of training, as well as some points you can put into practice.

  1. The importance of time
  2. Overcoming a defeatist (or overconfident) mindset
  3. Points to put in to practice:

1. The importance of time

It’s safe to say that the idea behind training makes sense: training helps you get to grips with a new concept, idea, or task. However, it’s not always easy to follow through and get everyone on board with training...

There’ll no doubt be mixed reactions to the "T" word when speaking to your staff. After all, everyone’s experienced training that may have been, well... a bit lacklustre. That said, I hope we’ve all experienced training that has inspired, motivated and helped us achieve success, too.

When it comes to training—whether it’s for a new product, service, or action you need to take—you know that to get the most out of it, you need to take the time to properly learn how it all works.

Whether it’s learning a language, learning to drive, or even learning to cook, it will take time and a little (read: a lot) of patience if you want to truly master them.

There are multiple reasons people might not want to engage with training, or why they might put it off time and time again:

  • There’s not enough time to do it
  • It’s too expensive to make a change
  • We’re happy with the way things are

Ultimately, these problems boil down to the value of training not being presented in the right way. This makes managing people the biggest hurdle that you have to overcome, not the actual product or process that you’re trying to learn. 

To help with this, time must be set aside to help motivate both yourself and your team, particularly if you want to get the most out of a product—like a job management software—and make the changes you’re seeking to introduce to your business.

“If as owners, you choose not to put time into the software, you're never going to get the right value out of it. With anything you adopt, you learn, you practice, you crack on.”

Nisha’s right again: to get the most value out of a product, you have to dedicate time to learn and absorb it properly. Training isn’t just a one-and-done thing either; that time you invest is important, but time is another currency you have to spend and invest wisely if you’re to make sure you get the most out of a product. 

You need to investigate, collect feedback, make changes, and adapt. Software will streamline things in the long term, and we understand that an initial adjustment might seem significant, but the problems caused by not making a change will be more damaging to your business than those small speed bumps you’ll face (and will overcome) during implementation. Optimising your team with automation will bring benefits.

Feel the pain now, then feel the benefits, feel the efficiency of it later.”

With training, you can understand the product in a much shorter amount of time than if you struggled through, trying to learn yourself and there’s always the risk that a misunderstanding might occur, or vital technique overlooked if the training didn't happen.

2. Overcoming a defeatist (or overconfident) mindset:

People like routine, we often have a set way of doing things and interruptions to those routines can seem invasive or disruptive. However, these fears come from doubt, or a lack of confidence, but this can be overcome. 

For example, when it comes to learning new software, you might be forgiven for thinking that it’s an older, more traditional generation who might struggle with tech, but it can be quite the opposite...

“You'd be surprised,” said Nisha, when asked about her own experience of delivering training to customers, “a lot of the people who are traditional and have sort of shied away from technology are often the easiest to train because they don't have any bad habits from other sources. But even if you’ve come from another piece of software, everyone needs to value the training and value what you can learn.”

The defeatist mindset can still be prevalent though. After all, everyone has that friend or colleague who says “I just can’t do it” without even trying once. Helping them out of that mindset can be difficult, but the same can also be said of people who are overconfident in their abilities too. Experience isn’t everything and systems can work very differently from another (iPhone over Android anyone)? They may seem “simple” from one side, but switching to another shows a different type of complexity to wrap your head around.

Sometimes perspective is all you need to realise this, but once you’ve experienced the positive change, you may find you’ll kick yourself for not having done it sooner. 

Value Training

Either way you look at it, reluctance to make a change and train ties back to a common theme: understanding value. What’s important is how you, as a manager, approach helping your team to understand the value of a product, an individual’s ability to learn and improve for themselves, and the benefits this adds to the business as a whole.

When speaking to Clear House Accountants and their Director, Jibran Qureshi, he’d mentioned that—although he’s always viewed them as an innovative company—they weren't always optimised in the best way. They had to make changes to their training and onboarding structures.

For CHACC, it meant opening the door for associates to learn, engage, and ask questions, letting them interact in a way that boosted their confidence and helped them to not just adopt a more efficient way of working, but gave them a more engaged perspective over the company, and a mindset that helped guide their learning, and elevate the company (and their clients) to success. 

It’s true that some businesses will just go, here’s the software, go ahead, offering only minimal training. However, this doesn’t make an individual feel valued and can create resistance. As Jibran explains: 

“We could put any kind of software in the business—it could even be something really amazing—but if the employees are not being on-boarded properly, then without the right mindset, there’s no value-added to putting in the software.”

The solution to this problem is actually quite straightforward; you find a way to show value. For CHACC (but so too for your business), numbers are an excellent way to make an impact. After all,  

“Numbers paint a picture and therefore it's helpful and very valuable to build this mindset from day one. From there, people begin to see the value. If we cannot show them the value, there is no point in even starting that conversation; so, we start with the value.”

The same was said by our Sales Manager, Jack, here at Commusoft. When speaking about Service Reminders and the benefit that automating them through a software solution, he had this to say with a focus on increasing revenue:

“Put the information in to a quantifiable figure.”

For your engineers or even finance director, you’ll likely care about the number of installations you complete: 

Let's say you do a 100 installations a year,” says Jack, “and let's say you can now start sending out automatic reminders [thanks to the software] for those. Not only does it save you time doing admin, but that has the potential to give you a 100 extra jobs a year. Let's say you charge £80 a service; that’s £8000 of potential income that you're not making if you’re not making use of service reminders to interact with your customers.”

Not only do you indicate time-saving potential, but the literal financial impact of a solution can dramatically influence the way people approach the mindset of adopting software. As a result of understanding the benefit, an employee may then better understand the need to receive training on how to use it properly. 

Service reminder guide get your free guide

Money is a motivator, for sure, but convenience is as well, and if people can make their work easier, and go on to do more interesting tasks as a result, it all comes together to set you up for success.

If you can indicate to your staff how much time your office staff could save with automated tasks, how many extra jobs your engineers could do each week, and the impact of that on cash flow and revenue, for everyone...well, it all adds up to a pretty compelling argument.

3. Points to put in to practice:

It’s good to talk about the theory behind why you need to implement training, but what about actually putting it in to practice? Well, we’ve got a few practical tips to close out, and hopefully, whatever stage you’re in - whether it’s starting with a software from scratch, or refreshing you knowledge - it’ll be wise to keep these points in mind.

  • Consistency:  

When going through training, it’s important to be consistent. You might be training a lot of people, but consistency over who is being trained and how, is essential. If knowledge is being inconsistently passed around, points can get lost, there’ll be breaks in knowledge and misunderstandings can occur.

So as long as someone is willing to take the lead, or is put in charge of overseeing and undertaking training, then the learning experience will become far more streamlined as a result. Just like learning a new skill, learning how to use new hardware (or software) becomes easier over time and with practice. 

Some points will be different for certain members of staff, i.e. tools used in the office may differ from those in the field, even if it's something simple like a mobile phone or tablet, so you’ll need to figure out who may need training in what areas and when, but consistency is still important to ensure you get the most out of it.

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  • Practice:

Homework may sound like something only for after school, but if you’re struggling with a particular aspect of a software or training, it doesn’t hurt to practice and take the time to figure out how something works properly.

“After every training call," Nisha explains, "it can be good to set a few things that the customer needs to go through. The simple fact is that we can't do everything for you, otherwise there's no value and it’s not a true learning experience. So, the idea behind tasks like this is to help you become a better user”. 

It can be the same for your staff. If someone needs to practice how to use the scheduling tool, give them the time to do that. If you need to make sure stock is being controlled properly, then give them time to do that.

Asking for help isn’t always easy, but if you’re creating an atmosphere that encourages your team to try, learn, and improve, then training will be more fruitful for everyone. 

  • Perspective:

Much like the same way your engineers would spend time getting to grips with a new tool, or office staff adjust to a new piece of hardware, learning to use software should be seen in the same way.

“This is just a tool: it's like using your hammer," says Nisha, "it's like using your analyser. You just have to learn how to use it properly. Training can help you, but you also need to want to learn to do it too and realise that software will help to make your work easier: you just need to want to do it too.”

The Takeaway

When it comes to training, understanding the value that's there to be gained is perhaps the most important thing. We see evidence of success all the time, not just from our own team providing training to customers, but as a software company who makes use of software itself: the benefits we gain from training helps us to understand, learn, adapt, and do more, which only becomes more apparent week after week, month after month.

It can be the same for your field service business: if you invest time and plan appropriately around the changes you wish to make, you will see a difference. As Nisha says:

“I've seen big businesses, small businesses, sole traders, two man bands take on the software, consume it and grow their businesses. That's where you see that whatever you've been doing it’s the right thing. If people are growing their businesses and  are able to grow because we provided the training, and they took the time to apply it, I mean all boxes ticked; and it’s great to see them take that further and continue that growth and development”.

If you’re keen to learn more about how to grow your business and manage other essential tasks through automation, we’ve just the thing for you!

Check out our Complete guide to Automation. Click below to access the page and check out all the resources on offer to help scale your business!

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