This post is from the Apperian blog and has not been updated since the original publish date.
Enterprise Mobile Apps: Gain a Competitive Edge in Field Service
For companies that depend on servicing customers in the field, customer satisfaction is a critical success factor. Thus, any tool that can help field service workers to do their job better will create a tremendous opportunity for mobile solution providers. In fact, VDC Research has predicted that the market for enterprise mobile apps for field service industries will grow at an average annual rate of 11% by 2014. However, field service is a broad category.
What functions can enterprise mobile apps be used for? How do you know where to start? In a service-centric business, the best place to start might be your customer complaints – do you get a lot of complaints about timeliness of service workers? Or do customers complain more about communication with the home office or the quality of the job? Once you have identified the process you want to mobilize, seize the opportunity to rethink the steps in the process. Do you really need all the data that the repair person typically fills out with pen and paper? Or can some data be prepopulated based on the device identity and location, leaving only critical information about the job to be completed by the worker? Common areas where we have seen field service enterprise mobile apps include:
- Job Scheduling: This is a common pain point in the service industry – what customer wants to wait out the entire 4-hour window on a weekday to get their washing machine repaired? With a mobile solution that is tied to the corporate back-office system, jobs can be assigned more efficiently based on location, and the company has the ability to dynamically reassign jobs to another technician, ultimately resulting in happier customers.
- Job Completion and Estimates: Enterprise mobile apps enable field service workers to fill out less paperwork when they are at a job and provide better service and quicker estimates since they have customer purchase history, product data and prices at their fingertips. One example of this is McKinley, an elevator equipment company, who's enterprise mobility strategy significantly improved its first call fix rate and effectively transformed what had been a paper-based service business.
- Communication with Main Office: Enterprise mobile apps that are linked to the main office can have real-time information, so that customers do not have to wait for the technician to "phone home" with their status.
- Asset Tracking: Mobile solutions enable delivery-focused companies to track location, driving habits, utilization rates, and on-time performance of their drivers.
As with any industry, deploying an mobile application management (MAM) solution in the field service sector has its challenges. Security is important, particularly if there is confidential customer data in the app. Distribution of enterprise mobile apps and updates is also another challenge, as these workers are not working at a desk and thus need to be able to access their tools from their dispersed locations. Mobile management software can help companies to manage these challenges through its platform, which protects confidential data through app wrapping and enables role-based distribution of apps and over-the-air updates. These are all great ideas, but are service-based organizations really implementing them? According to Aberdeen, the answer is yes. In their study, 57% of the companies they surveyed that are considered “best in class” have invested in mobile tools for their field technicians. Essentially, the opportunity is there to improve customer service. Since your field service workers represent your brand to your customers, help them to do their job by giving them the enterprise mobile apps that they need to provide excellent customer service.