A lot has changed in communications over the last 25 years. Imagine having to carry separate devices for the various functions your smartphone performs. You’d need to carry at minimum:
- A camera and video camera
- A voice recorder
- A calculator
- A calendar
- A map
- A computer and, oh yes,
- A phone
Now, think about a field service technician dispatched to a service call. If he’s carrying a mobile device connected to the all the same business resources he can access in the office, does it make sense for him to also carry, say, paper invoices? Service manuals? Even a laptop with different applications?
You’re beginning to understand why enterprises are demanding that their mobile app providers embed real-time collaboration into their niche mobile apps. Let’s look closer at the benefits to an organization:
With better information about the status of various field members – location, expected time to completion of an assignment, hours until the end of their shifts, etc. – the home office can more effectively address both internal and external needs. With real-time communications, companies can send system-generated SMS notifications to customers to notify them of appointment times and service tech bios. System-generated SMS messages can also alert field techs of real-time dispatches, schedule changes or additional jobs.
If information about a customer’s needs can be transmitted to the field before the appointment, the technician can be certain that she’s prepared to do the job—parts in hand, sufficient time allowed, etc. This information can be provided directly from the dispatching unit. Or, increasingly, the information can be provided through data transmitted from an Internet of Things (IoT)-equipped unit to the next available service tech (identified via location-based geo-fencing).
Obviously, making it easier for a service tech to complete a set of tasks in one application rather than using paper substitutes or a separate system saves time and effort. And with a richer array of tools – integration with the camera or video functions, access to identify, contact and collaborate with experts from the home office – the tech can more quickly diagnose an issue and get the repair done. Without them, the appointment may go far longer, or even require a second visit.
The informed technician can better address a customer’s issues by reviewing not just notes from the dispatch unit, but the complete history of service provided previously. With a deeper understanding of the customer’s purchases and other behavior, the field tech can identify opportunities to upsell additional products or services.
Field techs can be helpful to the marketing department if they’re equipped with tools designed to make it easier for them to collect key information about a customer’s situation. Short questionnaires for the tech to complete without disturbing the customer can help companies get a better understanding of the markets they serve. (Of course, privacy issues need to be considered.) Plus, if an app captures all real-time communications with the client and supporting staff within the customer service record, the company has a whole new set of information that it can use for post-service call interactions and analytical assessment.
Having real-time information about revenue and expenses is facilitated by apps that upload that data as it occurs. With this collective information, your your finance and operations departments can more quickly assess what’s happening in the field and identify patterns affecting corporate performance.
It’s not hard to see the tremendous gains in efficiency, timeliness and knowledge that are possible when app creators embed real-time collaboration in their mobile apps. Doing so is not only a boom to your company’s performance, it’s a way to make your customers even happier with your service.