Field technicians are your frontline contact with customers. Are they equipped to deliver critical fixes with speed and accuracy, to keep customers happy?
In today’s demanding customer-first environment, selling a great product or service is not enough. Businesses must continually keep customers happy by standing out from the competition with stellar post-purchase service.
Since dissatisfied customers can significantly damage the reputation of your business, who better to improve it than your trusted field technician. Post pandemic, more and more businesses are relying on field service organizations to help address the extensive demand for field services.
This positive impact on the field services industry places significant responsibility on field technicians.
Yet, technicians often come up against operational issues and process inefficiencies. These range from delays while searching for parts or loading vans, to being poorly equipped with the tools and information needed to resolve customer issues. They end up losing valuable time and resources on non-revenue-generating activities, instead of optimizing existing customer relationships, or servicing new customers.
Change that by supercharging your technicians’ daily operations. Empower them with a high-performance, smart data capture enabled smartphone or other smart device, to track and commission assets fast and accurately.
This guide details how a smart data capture enabled smartphone serving as your field technician’s pocket assistant will:
- Give them superpowers to deliver field operations end-to-end
- Save time on routine tasks with improved inventory visibility
- Increase customer satisfaction with first time fix rates
Automate field operations for real-time visibility
Field service technicians are skilled professionals with packed daily schedules delivering installation, maintenance and repairs to physical infrastructure that businesses and consumers rely on everyday.
They work on critical assets in a wide range of industries including network infrastructure, telecoms, grid networks, HVAC, security systems, water treatment works, pest control, and more.
While the sectors are diverse, there are a number of shared operational challenges. A factor central to success is workforce management – assigning the right technician to the right job at the right time. Operational errors can play havoc with customer relationships, cause reputational damage and ruin business revenues.
A surprising percentage of field service businesses depend on outdated practices or manual methods such as white boards, Google Docs or a phone tag to manage their schedules, dispatch technicians and communicate with the field. Yet, many of these processes can be automated with barcode scanning, to reduce dependencies on manual methods and eliminate errors.
As technicians already own smartphones, offering these busy professionals powerful smart data capture enabled barcode scanning on these devices to power existing asset tracking, scheduling native apps or web applications will help modernize field operations.
Smart data capture enables any smart device to interact with physical items by capturing data from barcodes, text, IDs and objects with unmatched speed, accuracy and intelligence.
When high-performance barcode scanning is integrated with web apps or mobile apps on smartphones connected to backend systems, field technicians can quickly and accurately scan parts and equipment for real-time visibility of van stock and inventory.
With a smart data capture enabled smartphone as a pocket assistant, technicians enjoy the flexibility and convenience needed to track, commission and service assets fast and accurately from a single device – at the point of being picked, managed, and installed from the warehouse, satellite operation or in the field.
Call time on time-consuming inventory counts
In readiness for their work day, technicians deliver inventory counts of parts and tools, both at the depot, and in the van. This time-consuming, labor-intensive process is prone to counting errors, and often requires an expensive dedicated barcode scanning device to complete.
By replacing manual methods and dedicated devices with smart data capture technologies such as MatrixScan on smartphones, technicians significantly speed up inventory counts.
faster scans with MatrixScan compared to dedicated devices helps technicians to accurately capture multiple parts barcodes in a single scan – making stock counting easy
Field technicians who make their mobile inventory traceable in real-time by scanning parts:
- Provide real-time visibility of stock to all teams
- Enhance job allocation based on parts availability
- Eliminate repeat site visits owing to missing parts
Take stock of parts with high-performance smartphone scanning
Whilst a first-time fix is key to success, one of the main reasons for secondary visits is that technicians don’t have the appropriate parts available to resolve customer issues.
Service work orders are ideally planned with all the necessary parts in place. Sometimes though, field technicians will diagnose issues onsite, but lack the parts required to complete the repairs.
of service organizations have increased focus on service parts management due to growing customer demand for prompt resolutions of service issues.
Source: Aberdeen Research
Technicians using manual processes will typically phone their warehouse with the serial number from the malfunctioning part, to check whether it’s in stock. Alternatively, if they use a website to reorder parts, field technicians must type in complex codes, sometimes 14 digits long, a potentially error-prone process.
These manual processes:
- Delay the onsite fix, necessitating revisits
- Have a negative impact on customer satisfaction
- Impact cash flow, as the job is incomplete and cannot be invoiced
Streamline ‘search and find’ for fast, first-time fixes
High-performance barcode scanning eliminates inefficiencies with manual processes. As with a simple scan, field technicians and anyone involved in field operation workflows can search and find parts, tools and equipment instantly.
Gain access to customer data
Smartphone scanning enabled augmented reality overlays can reveal service history, future maintenance schedules, and details about parts that need replacing. Scanning of existing parts makes it easier to track and trace fitted parts under warranty for claims.
With this end-to-end visibility of parts that are in stock, field operations can be planned for first-time fixes, as:
- Parts are recorded and picked in advance of each visit
- Faster finding of parts saves significant time across multiple work orders
- Costs associated with unnecessary parts purchase are eliminated
Watch the video below to see how smartphones equipped with Scandit’s Smart Data Capture improves first time fix rates, bringing increased visibility into Field Services.
Lower operational costs, tracking inventory and resources
Smart data capture technology on smart devices enables anyone in the warehouses, customer service departments and across the enterprise to locate and track valuable equipment when it’s received and deployed by technicians – improving field operation efficiency, eliminating unauthorized use of stock for personal use, and lowering operational costs.
This infographic shows how Scandit’s smart data capture technology boosts a field technician’s daily journey.
Streamline job scheduling with shared inventory: By enabling automation of daily operational workflows, dispatchers can accurately match field technicians to a work order. Parameters could be based on available inventory proximity between the technician’s and customer’s location, and more. This maximizes inventory and personnel utilization, minimizes asset allocation errors, and mismatched resources.
Just-in-time stock ordering: Better parts tracking means that parts are reordered only when needed, just-in-time. This prevents overstocking and understocking of parts, which keeps operational costs down and liquidity high.
Warranty activations, claims processing and product recalls: With unified access to all service applications and resources on their smartphones, field technicians can make informed decisions – such as seamlessly activating warranties when commissioning systems; providing accurate diagnosis and repairs for warranty claims; and ensuring prompt recalls of defective parts.
Get actionable information with AR
Scandit’s augmented reality (AR) smart data capture solutions make field operations intuitive for diverse daily activities, on the road, and onsite. With a simple scan powered by AR overlays, technicians gain immediate access to a wealth of real-time information about the customer, the equipment and parts needed to complete tasks for first-time fixes.
See how augmented reality works.
Upsell opportunities with actionable information: Warranty expiry and service term end notifications on the technician’s smartphone present revenue potential for upsell of additional parts and services to customers.
Minimize rigorous technician training with connected technologies: Whether it’s experienced technicians or novice contractors, enabling them to install or fix equipment onsite is made easy with instant access to AR overlay based manuals, schematics, and installation instruction prompts. Thereby reducing the need for training, which is also helpful when onboarding new technicians to ramp up activity.
Younger technician trainees who are digitally-savvy can also connect with seasoned professionals in real-time to help facilitate learning and have their questions answered. AR based remote, on-demand training serves as a smart tool to bridge the skills gap and attract younger talent to an industry beset by an aging workforce with not many takers.
Improve customer satisfaction with proof of completion: Technicians can mark jobs complete by using AR to fill in service reports, add photos and external documents to jobs, capture IDs on equipment, and customer signatures.
They can also automatically generate invoices and collect payments onsite with a smart device based mPOS connected to an ERP system for processing payments.
Integrate with ease for flexibility
High-performance scanning is a critical success factor in boosting your technician’s performance in the field. Poor user experience can negatively impact your field technicians’ efficiency.
For instance, inaccuracies in barcode scanning for parts tracking will prevent technicians from gaining a clear view of stock availability, which may necessitate a secondary visit to a dissatisfied customer.
countries where smartphone scanning accuracy with real-time verification reduced install visits for Enphase Energy field technicians.
Therefore, it’s important that field technicians are equipped with high-performance smart data capture solutions such as those offered by Scandit that scan barcodes accurately in any condition including low light, glare, seasonal vagaries, varying distances, and on damaged barcodes.
smartphone models are compatible with Scandit’s barcode scanning SDK, which scans any barcode type.
Aid accessibility in the field: Field technicians tend to work in areas with poor access where internet speeds and connectivity are poor, making downloading an app from an app store a challenge. Therefore, integrating Scandit’s high-performance Web SDK smart data capture solution into a web application delivers enterprise-grade scanning via a web browser.
Third-party integrations: It’s important to consider integration requirements early on, when planning the right scanning solution. For instance, are there field service management apps, scheduling systems, or other backend solutions that the smartphone scanning solution will need to integrate with? Scandit can advise on the best approach.
A preferred GS1 partner, our enterprise-grade smart data capture technology is easy to integrate into any app running on any smart device – native mobile apps or web apps – with or without the need for development.
The scanning software works on a variety of operating systems, frameworks and 3rd party systems. If integration is needed, our smart data capture solutions can be securely integrated into existing infrastructure with minimal disruption and without the need for a hefty investment in new technology or training.
Instant scanning to power field operations
Track parts and inventory instantly, eliminate integration efforts altogether for fast and easy technology deployment with Scandit Keyboard Wedge. Add barcode scanning quickly to any existing infrastructure and legacy apps.
All set to power field technician productivity with a smart data capture enabled smartphone pocket assistant?
Talk to us about how you can give technicians instant access to the information they need to deliver superior customer service.