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5 Key Aspects of a Pandemic-Ready Virtual Field Service Office

virtual field service

Virtualize Your Field Service Office to Ensure Seamless Operations At All Times!

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses worldwide to either shut down temporarily or carry out their operations remotely, the field service industry is still operational. Most field service businesses fall into the category of essential services that are allowed to function during the lockdown. However, providing uninterrupted service to your customers should not be at the expense of risking your workforce’s safety. A virtual field service office helps you work safely during these trying times.

We’ve already given a few tips to ensure the safety of field service technicians at work during the pandemic. So, here’s something that you wanted to know for running your office virtually during the lockdown. 

1. Enable digital scheduling and dispatching

Manual scheduling of work orders using pen and paper, or even excel sheets was always inefficient and time-intensive. Now it brings workers into close physical proximity, increasing the chance to transmit infection. 

Read more: 5 Ways to Reduce Site Visits in Field Service Operations

An integrated field service management suite co-opts scheduling and dispatching, inventory management, remote collaboration, and invoicing. 

An advanced FSM suite like ReachOut allows you to:

  • Integrate critical information on the order. It assesses the nature and urgency of the job and matches it to technician skill-levels and availability. The automated instructions take the load off the human scheduler.
  • Issue reminders and alerts to the technician and customers. The alerts prompt upcoming schedules, technician movements, and work completion status. Stakeholders rely on these alerts to sanitize the premises and take other needful steps.
  • Map out the field agent’s route to ensure they spend the least time outdoors. A smart FSM suite allocates a work order to the nearest technician or groups nearby jobs for a technician.
  • Sync repair or maintenance slots with customer preferences and spare availability. For instance, the automated scheduler slots an AC repair job after office hours. Such considerations cut the technician’s close contact with people and avoid re-visits.

Read more: Ten Ways Automated Scheduling Makes a Difference

2. Institute digital record keeping

A field service management suite digitalizes reports and record keeping. Digital notifications, reports and invoicing reduce paperwork to cut both costs as well as the risk of virus spread through physical handling of papers and files! It enables the workforce to conduct most peripheral activities connected to the repairs remotely.

Here’s how a field service management software can support you:

  • Contactless field inspections. Digital forms, e-signatures, and reports ensure the automatic capture of information.
  • Generate and send reports for regulatory compliance, business planning, and other purposes.

Read more: Digital Forms Accelerate Paperless Field Service Management

3. Secure remote access to work computers

Many jurisdictions have made work from home mandatory for all those who can do so. Customers turn towards online channels as a fast and convenient way to access services without leaving their homes. The Zendesk customer support portal has seen a spike of 46% for chat, 32% for web and app messaging, and 24% for social media channels since the pandemic broke out.

The biggest challenge with WFH is to secure remote access to the central servers. Customer service agents and field technicians need remote access to central servers for up-to-date job schedules, background info on the customer, open invoices, and other critical information.

Several free open-source tools allow remote users to access and edit documents in the office servers, as if they were sitting in the office. But most of such options come with enormous security risks. Leading cloud service providers, however, are taking steps to strengthen security measures to avert cyber-attacks. 

Here are a few steps to ensure secure remote access:

  • Enable remote access through cloud-based field management software, to enforce strict access protocols. The IT team may add security layers, to enable safe remote working.
  • Starting in March 2020, the number of service requests handled using Artificial Intelligence (AI) has increased to 55%, reports Zendesk. With the pandemic demanding customer support teams to reduce their workforce, AI-powered chatbots are enabling customers to find quicker solutions to their challenges without depending on human agents. 

4. Launch self-service and remote support options

Visiting customers during a pandemic is not a smart move. But repairing of machinery at the client premises still has to take place.

Self-service options enable remote resolution of the most basic issues. You can offer clear step-by-step instructions in the FAQ section of your website or app or post intuitive videos that explain DIY tricks or steps vividly. 

Remote assistance solves most problems that self-service cannot solve. Provide on-demand video calls where technicians drive the customer through troubleshooting. Customers with AR goggles could get annotated instructions, making the fix even easier.

Integrated a video conferencing tool with your field service app makes the process more secure and seamless.

With self-service and remote assistance enabled, the technicians visit the site only for complex tasks. But success depends on:

  • Making technical materials accessible and user-friendly for the technicians.
  • Training technicians and field agents to offer remote assistance.
  • Improved team dynamics, with open communication and constructive feedback. The virtual team has to run like a well-oiled machine.

Still, complex works require site visits. Equipping technicians with AI-powered tools can expedite the work and reduce the time spent on site. AI-powered analytics, when enhanced by IoT and other sensors will make troubleshooting and diagnosis faster, and installations speedier.

Read more: How IoT and AI is Driving Field Service Innovation

5. Remote estimates and invoicing

Remote quotes and contactless invoicing are fast becoming the norm in the COVID-19 New Normal.

An integrated field service management suite adds power in the following ways:

  • Auto-generate quotes, pulling in the required details from the CRM.
  • Auto-generate invoices on work completion and deliver it to customers through WhatsApp, SMS, or email.
  • Enable customers to make contactless online payments. When the customer makes the payment, the suite emails a confirmation message and updates the records.

Smart businesses stay relevant and adapt quickly to the changes by virtualizing their office operations and reducing their site visits. To ensure your workforce’s safety and resume uninterrupted customer service, you need to adopt a cloud-based field service management system like the ReachOut suite. Get in touch with the ReachOut Team to learn more about the opportunities for virtualizing your field service business. 

 

ReachOut: Inspection & Work Order Management Software

Do you still use paper or Excel spreadsheets to manage your service business? ReachOut is a web and mobile solution for companies to schedule, dispatch and deliver inspections, work orders, ticketing and more. Get started for FREE.