Blog

Keep Customers in the Loop. How the Service Sector Uses Collaboration Tools for Visibility.

September 24, 2020

Most people can connect instantly to family, friends, and entire communities from their smartphones and other mobile devices, no matter where they are. It’s natural to expect that same level of connectivity with the businesses they deal with, especially when it includes field service operations to the customer’s location.

Yet customers expect more than just connectivity. They want a full view of the work being completed to fulfill their service requests. They demand full operational visibility — from the moment they set an appointment all the way through the request being completed. With today’s collaborative technology, there’s no excuse not to give it to them.

Why Visibility Matters

Operational visibility is at the core of all good collaboration tools in field service management, and it can provide the type of customer experience that field service operations strive for. When the tool is extended to include customers, it allows them to provide important specifics about the job directly to technicians in the field, including detailed directions and helpful photos.

By looping them in, field service operations management can give customers greater visibility into their own operations, including where technicians are when they’re en route. The customer can more precisely schedule downtime to coincide with the technician’s arrival, leaving less time and productivity wasted.

These are just a few examples of how the right collaborative technology can keep visibility top of mind, both for operations teams as well as customers. With specifically defined roles and permissions, companies can make the most of their collaboration tools to ensure that level of visibility for every service job they complete.

However, this hasn’t been the norm for field service operations to date. Many companies still struggle with scheduling, dispatching, and managing multiple teams in the field. Plenty haven’t begun to face the challenge of extending visibility to customers. In some surveys, about a third of field service companies say they don’t use mobile apps of any kind.

That’s unfortunate because half of the companies that do use mobile apps have reduced the costs of filling service requests while simultaneously improving their ability to meet customers’ expectations for greater visibility. They’ve adopted the devices their employees and customers use into intuitive collaboration tools (like Coolfire), and many have exceeded customer expectations in the process.

Real-Life Applications

Looping customers into collaboration networks allows field service managers to extend operational visibility via communication and workflow to customers.

Let’s say a plant that produces heavy construction equipment has a machine in need of maintenance, so it requests a team from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). If the OEM company has a collaboration tool like Coolfire deployed across its workforce, the maintenance team can invite the plant manager into a Session. The plant manager can share highly detailed information about the job, including specifics of the plant’s layout and photos of the machine and its location so the field team is fully prepared.

Once the OEM dispatches the team to the site, the team can share its route in real time so the plant manager can schedule accordingly. As the work is being completed, the team can share photos instantly to verify the right parts are going into the right machines and that everything is being performed by the book.

After the job is completed, the plant manager can review it in its entirety within the Session’s archive. The manager can also reference the data easily if the same problem occurs or for safety or compliance reasons.

This level of visibility and transparency is exactly what customers have come to expect — but rarely get to experience. With Coolfire, most field service companies can start to change that. Connect with us today to see how we can improve your customers’ point of view — and your bottom line.