Gary: So, I’m Gary Rodrigues. I’m a consultant with ExpandIT with a focus on mobile field service solutions. And, today, I’ve got Luke Kanaan with me who will be speaking a few minutes later. So, we’re both with ExpandIT, which is a Microsoft independent software vendor and gold partner. And we build software for mobile sales and mobile field service companies. Additionally, our products have a standard integration with Microsoft Dynamics Business Central and other ERP systems. So, we work closely with your ERP partner, Encore Business Solutions, to ensure seamless connectivity with your ERP system. And, today, we’re gonna talk about how to improve your business with a mobile field service solution. So, it’s really targeted for companies that are service-based, and have field workers, and they’re looking to maximize their customer satisfaction.
So, the outline for today’s webinar is as follows. We started off with the introduction. And then, next, I’m gonna share a typical end customer story, followed by the pain points that companies and customers face. Then, we’re gonna look at how a mobile field service solution can improve customer satisfaction. After that, I’m gonna hand it over to Luke, who will walk through a product demo. And then, finally, we’ll share one of our own customer stories to show how implementing a field service solution impacted their business.
So, to start, let’s go through a typical end customer story in the service industry. Meet Jenna, a small business owner. She owns a small flower shop, and she recently got her old air conditioner replaced with a new one. A few months later, the new air conditioning unit stopped working, and Jenna needs to get it repaired. So, Jenna needs to take the following steps in order to get her air conditioning system fixed. First, she has to call the manufacturing company that made and installed her air conditioner. She calls the organization, and they redirect her to a customer service center. Once she calls the customer service center, they tell her they have to direct her call to the appliances department.
After finally locating the right person to speak with, Jenna has already been waiting on the line for 30 minutes. So, after she finally speaks then with the right front office staff member, the staff member sets a time and date for when a technician will arrive, which is in about a week. So, for Jenna, getting her air conditioner fixed is her top priority. She owns a flower shop, so it’s crucial for flowers to be at the right temperature so she can deliver the freshest flowers to her customers.
Jenna has closed down the shop for a few hours when the technician is supposed to arrive. She needed to deliver her customer order and she was about to leave, but, finally, the technician arrived hours late. When the technician finally arrived, he didn’t have the right equipment needed to fix the air conditioner, so he needed to schedule another visit. However, the technician didn’t have the authority to schedule another visit. So, Jenna has to call the customer service department again to reschedule a visit.
Fast-forward a few months later, and it’s time to do taxes. Jenna doesn’t have her invoice, and she needs the invoice in order to complete her taxes. It’s a busy season, but now she has to go through the process of calling the customer service line again so they can get her the invoice details so that she has all of the details of her installation and repair.
So, as you can see from our typical end customer story, the customer has experienced a lot of pain points. The pain points that were faced are the following. First, she was waiting on the phone to speak with the correct person at the service organization. Through the whole process, she went through the hassle of being redirected to the correct person that could solve her problems. Then, she waited for the technician to arrive. Since the technician didn’t have the right tools, she then waited for additional service visits. She wasted a lot of time. She wasn’t able to communicate with a technician if an unexpected situation came up ahead of time. And she had to call the front office again to get her invoice or to view her past orders, and she wasn’t able to view the status of her job either.
Companies also face very similar pain points. It’s difficult to meet customer expectations regarding setting appointment times. Service technicians often don’t have the right parts to complete a service call, so they have to do additional trips. Service technicians also may not have the right skills to complete a job, so they have to send an additional service technician to a trip. Techs often have no visibility to inventory across the enterprise, which creates unnecessary purchases and expenses as well as trips. And the planners and dispatchers sending out the technicians have a lack of visibility on where all the techs are, and planning their next job is difficult with this limited information.
So, the pain points can really be summarized into two main challenges. First is inaccurate information, and secondly, it’s hard to navigate customer service channels. Inaccurate information leads to delayed service jobs and additional visits. And the hard-to-navigate customer service channels create a hassle for customers and it’s very time-consuming for them.
So, how can having a mobile field service solution help to solve these customer challenges? Let’s take a look. So, using a mobile field service solution improves customer satisfaction in three main ways. It allows organizations to improve planning, enhance communications, and enable self-service. So, let’s look at these in more detail.
So, the first way a mobile field service solution can help your business is by improved planning. Service organizations are constantly looking for ways to improve the scheduling of service jobs. In order to do this, they need improved planning for their technicians and equipment. A mobile field service solution enables organizations to dispatch the right technician with the right abilities and the right equipment.
This is crucial in improving first-time fix rates. Improved planning for technicians and equipment accelerates the process of servicing jobs, which increases productive time, ultimately improving customer satisfaction. For example, dispatchers and planners can have a complete overview of where all their field resources are. Additionally, they can check the status of scheduled work orders, which allows them to easily schedule work from a user-friendly interface. This allows them to give customers real-time feedback.
Another way mobile field service solution can improve customer satisfaction is by enhancing communications. Outdated systems are a nightmare for any organization and create a host of communications issues and inefficiencies. Integrating front office and back office systems is critical for service organizations. A mobile field service solution enables both employees and customers to easily access information. For example, from our customer story, Jenna would be able to contact the front office directly to schedule another visit, or the technician would be able to schedule another visit upon approval. This boosts productive time, improves customer satisfaction, and enables service teams to operate more efficiently.
Lastly, another way to improve customer satisfaction is by adopting self-service tools such as a self-service portal. Streamlining service operations improves organizational efficiency. Having to request a service job or accessing past invoices of an installation is a hassle and is time-consuming. So, one way to streamline operations is by providing self-service options. This includes a self-service portal, which enables users to directly request service jobs, see the status of a job, view past invoices, pay invoices online, and view past service orders and reports.
Self-service portals not only streamlined service operations but also significantly improved customer satisfaction. For example, end customers can request and view the status of a service call and easily communicate with the service organization 24/7. When reports are ready, customers no longer have to worry about not being able to read the technician’s handwriting as the reports are all digital.
So, now that we’ve gone through the pain points that customers face and how a field service solution can address these customer pain points, we’ll share one of our own customer stories. So, our customer story is as follows. The organization is a small filtration company in Canada. And they realized that their customers were experiencing some pains in their customer journey. The main pain points their customers were experiencing were not receiving invoices for a long period of time, complaints about outdated technology, customers being unable to read the reports, and poor communication.
So, we’ll go into detail in two of the biggest pain points. So, one of the biggest points was that customers would complain about being invoiced months after the service visit was completed. Customers have to wait a few months to receive their invoice. And, at this time, so much time had passed that the customer had forgotten what the invoice was for. So, the customer typically calls the organization to complain about the invoice, and then the service company would have to remind them about what service was done a few months ago. The other concern was outdated technology. So, when technicians would go on a service call, they would write up a full report of what they did. But often what happened is when they would leave that paper report, customers were unable to read the handwriting. So, the customer didn’t even understand what type of work was done.
So, after the filtration company implemented a mobile field service solution, they improved their customer experience. So, they were able to receive real-time feedback from their customers. If a customer needed to request a service call, they would simply request the call through the online portal, eliminating any scheduling issues. It also improved reporting. So, customers no longer had the frustration of not being able to read reports because all the forms and reports were electronic. And in the case that customers had to review the reports or forms, they have access to all of their information 24/7 on the online service portal. They no longer have to rely on the customer service rep to answer any questions or concerns. And the filtration company also had the ability to send the invoices to customers much faster.
The invoice included pictures and all the reports that were required, so customers knew exactly what had been done on that service call. And the information shared by the company was a lot more accurate. For example, dispatchers from the filtration company could tell customers exactly when the technician was going to arrive. Prior to the technician going to the service call, the tech had all the information they needed. That means that first-time fix rates were improved and the process of a service call was shortened. Additionally, if there was any information that the customer wanted to give to the planner or technician, they could easily communicate them via the messenger tool on the service portal. So, to conclude that, all of these amazing benefits from using a field service solution helped to improve customer satisfaction.
So, as you can see, using a mobile field service solution provides a seamless customer journey. Typically, without a field service solution, customers have to call the service organization to request the service call and they have to wait for the technician to be scheduled. After the service job is completed, which can take a few visits, customer then gets invoiced much later.
With the field service solution, customers can request service directly, front office staff can plan and allocate resources appropriately, the technician can execute the job right the first time, and the customer is invoiced right after it with all the correct details. And if a customer has any questions or concerns after, they can use a self-service portal to directly communicate with the front office. That means there’s a strong connection with your customers and the information in the ERP, which saves a lot of time and reduces errors. So, now, I’m gonna hand things over to Luke, and we’re gonna take a look at ExpandIT’s mobile field service solution.
Luke: Thanks, Gary. Hopefully, everyone can see my screen. So, yeah, my name is Luke, I’m with ExpandIT. I’m one of the field service consultants here. And as Gary mentioned, I’ll be walking through our planning board first. So, typically, this is where your dispatchers and planners would be interacting with. So, on the left-hand side, you see a list of departments and resources. And, now, this data will be coming from your ERP system. So, each one of your dispatchers will have their own view to view the departments and resources that they’re in charge of because you might have multiple locations or multiple areas where you’re covering. And then, towards the center here, you see today’s date, Wednesday, and you see a job here. So, these have been service orders or jobs that had been assigned to resources. So, they’re already planned.
And if you look at the top, there is a status bar. So, visually, the planner can see, “Okay, what is the status of this work order? Is the technician traveling? Are they onsite working? Are they on hold? Is the job complete?” etc. So, as the field worker changes the status of the job, it is automatically updated for the planner to see visually. There are multiple ways to schedule a work order. So, you could create, let’s say, the work order inside of your ERP and just use ExpandIT just for scheduling. Or you can actually create the work order from ExpandIT, and then that data will then be pushed back later on. So, for example, if you created this work order inside of Business Central or an ERP system, I can just come in here, select a job, I could search for it if I knew the job number. And then, I literally just drag and drop and assign it to a resource or multiple resources.
So, that’s one way scheduling a work order coming from an ERP. Another way is just creating for the planner board itself. So, I could right-click, Create New Job, and I get a pop-up. And it’s gonna ask me first some information like, “Okay, who is the customer that we’re gonna service today or do an install on?” So, I can type in The Canon Group. And, again, all of this data is coming from the ERP, so I can select The Canon Group, and I can see a list of projects that we have with The Canon Group or a list of service items linked to The Canon Group. So, let’s select the service item. We’re gonna work on that piece of equipment.
And then, from here, this is where I can add in any additional information. So, I can modify the work description, mark this as urgent, enter a PO number, I can see the customer address information. So, customer address, the work address, invoice address, again, all coming from the ERP. Here is the specific task or service item that we’re working on. Originally, I only added one service item, but I can add another, multiple. So, you can have a long list of tasks and service items that need to be completed in the field. I can leave comments as a planner. So, I can leave messages that will show up when the field worker opens up their mobile client and opens up this job, they will see the messages that came from the actual planner. And, of course, any attachments, whether pictures or documents, these can all be attached and linked to this job and service order. That way, it’s helpful for that field user to have that information.
So, we’ll go ahead, save, and close that. And, now, this work order will now pop up right here on the planning board. There’s other, you know, sort of features and functionality of the planning board as well. We do have a graphical map view. So, typically, a lot of our customers will have the map and the planning board on sort of separate monitors because they do interact with one another. So, if I click on a resource, you can see how it’s highlighted. And if I click on a resource, I can see who that resource is, what are they working on, are they just standing idle, are they onsite working on a job or service order. I can see other jobs nearby and other users nearby, and I can actually route this user to a job nearby. So, we’ll get out of that.
We do have some messaging capabilities as well. So, this is useful if you wanna send an automated message to your customer. So, notifying them… Sorry, I clicked the wrong button. Notifying the customer, you know, ahead of time, “Hey, a customer rescheduled a visit this date and time where our resource, Louise, will arrive at your location to perform service.” So, this, of course, is a configurable message, so you can have it say whatever you’d like. And I can communicate via SMS and email right from the ExpandIT planning board. So, not only can you communicate with your end customer, but you can also communicate with your resources as well. So, I can send messages to an entire department, that way all the resources get it, or individually.
So, we created a work order, we assigned it to Luke. Let’s now…I’ll take you to the role of the field worker, and we’re gonna take a look at the actual mobile client. And I’ll show you that right now. So, our mobile solution works on any device, whether it’s Android, iOS, phones, laptops, tablets, it does not matter. You can use whatever hardware you’re using today. So, the first thing that you see is sort of your calendar. And we had different views, whether it’s a monthly view, a weekly view. And when I log in as a mobile user, if I’m a field worker, the first thing I would see is sort of my jobs for today, the things that I need to complete.
So, this is the one that we created right from the planning board. So, let’s open it up. And I can see information regarding this job. So, who is the customer. It’s The Canon Group. The address. Who is the person at The Canon Group. That’s my contact, Mr. Andy Teal, who is responsible if there are other resources linked to it with lists or names. So, if I click this car icon, it’ll tell me how to get to the job site. And then, if you notice, at the top, you have some quick buttons like Start Travel and Start Work. So, if you’re recording your traveling time, I can indicate how much time I spent traveling to the job site, because you might bill for that, or how much time I spent working on this job site. Here’s the message that we sent out as a planner. You can see, “Hello,” and it shows up here under Messages. And I can leave a comment as well if I’d like.
So, the clock is ticking. We hit Start. So, now, we actually have to go and perform whatever we need to do out in the field. And here are the lists of tasks that I need to complete. So, I would come here, and I would see what service items I need to work on or what tasks I need to complete, so I can indicate what service item I’m working on. And then, I can view also historical data. So, I can view a history on a specific service item for a specific customer. So, as a field user, I can know information like, “Okay, who worked on this service item last?” right? Who worked on this machine last, what materials they used, did the last technician leave a comment, did they complete any forms in relation to this service item.
So, there’s a lot of data that you can provide for your field users. And not only that, the field users can assign and create tasks to themselves because they might be in the field working on one piece of equipment, and while they’re there, another piece of equipment also breaks down, and they need to service that as well. So, they can create a task to work on that second piece of broken-down equipment, and then assign it to themselves, and they can work on it. And so, here’s another way to register time. You know, in the beginning, I press start and stop. But you can also enter in time manually. Or distance. So, like I mentioned, I can register my traveling time. So, I can say I worked 40 kilometers and I worked two hours, let’s say. So, that’s another way to register time.
Consumables. So, these are the materials that you’re gonna consume out in the field. So, we can indicate, “Okay, where did I pull these materials or consumables from?” So, these are your inventory locations that you would have inside of your ERP. And you can set these as default. Like, if I have a truck that I’m always riding in, that would be my default inventory location. And then, I can come in here and type, you know, the part number, part name, part description, and then determine, “Okay, how many pieces of equipment?” Whatever unit of measure that you’re using, “How many pieces did I consume? How many parts?”
Then, I could see at the top, you know, we use part number 80219, and I got those parts from my Blue Warehouse. And so, I can quickly edit that if necessary. One of the last thing are the mandatory reports, or reports in general. So, you may have health and safety forms, or inspection forms, or maybe a work summary form that you need to capture. For example, here’s an example report that I have that I actually created myself. You do not need any development experience because we have our own report building tool that allows you to easily create or recreate any paper documents you have and make them digital.
So, here’s an example, you know, like, some yes and no questions. Maybe you need to enter a comment. Maybe you need to add a file or capture a signature. So, you could use this as your work summary you present to the customer at the end of sort of the shift or when you completed the service, saying, “Hey, customer, I spent X amount of time working today. Can you just sign off? And I need your signature.” You can have a proof of that. And so, I can email a copy of it or send it to someone, whoever is requesting it. And so, here, you see a star next to this employee disciplinary sheet. So, this is a mandatory form. So, I cannot close out the job until I complete this form. So, whatever they’re asking me for. So, we’ll just fill in this quickly. As completed.
So, this is an important tool because you may have forms or you may need to capture data while you’re out in the field. And this data needs to be clear and precise, and you need to always have a copy of it. And if you’re doing it on paper today, well, chances are you’re gonna lose it for your employees, your field workers might forget to fill it out, you can’t read the writing. There’s a lot of things. There’s just so much manual data entry that you have to push back into your ERP, or you just have boxes and boxes of paperwork that are just sitting around your office. So, our goal is to remove of all that and make everything sort of more organized.
And the last thing… So, attachments again. So, when I was a field worker, I attached an image or a document. And as a mobile user, I can do the same thing. So, I can, you know, open up my camera, snap a picture, or upload a file as well, and attach it to this work order. So, here, you know, let’s pretend like we finish our work and I get a summary of everything that I’ve completed. So, all of the tasks that I worked on, the time that I registered, the materials that I consumed, the reports that I completed.
And then, I can come back at a later date and time. Maybe I didn’t finish my work today, so I have to come back, schedule some time in the future. So, I can indicate, “Okay, I’m gonna come back at a later date, and my expected duration is X amount of time.” And then, I’ll assign it to myself, or I’ll send it to the planner, and they’ll determine who’s gonna come back and finish the job. Or I can just hit Finalize and close out the job as complete.
So, that’s sort of the low for the ExpandIT solution. What happens after this is that this data then gets pushed back into your ERP, and then now you can invoice your customer. So, you have all the data captured, and now you can actually invoice it, and you don’t have to wait, you know, weeks or days to invoice. Once the job is sort of complete and you’ve approved of everything, you can invoice that customer almost immediately. So, that sort of is for me. I’ll throw it back to Gary, and he’ll take over from here. Thank you.
Gary: Okay. Thank you, Luke. So, to conclude, this was just a brief overview. As you know, Microsoft’s ERP systems are already very powerful. But when they’re integrated with a mobile field service solution from ExpandIT, service organizations can really optimize their business operations and improve customer satisfaction. So, just as a quick review, what are the top three ways that a service solution can improve your business? Number one, it can improve planning. Number two is it enhances communication. And, finally, it enables self-service. So, those are really the top three real benefits that you would see by implementing a field service solution.
So, now, as we wrap up, what should you do next? First, what you wanna do is identify and write down all of the pain points that your company and your customers are experiencing. Next, you wanna consult with Encore as your ERP partner. And then, once you’ve done that, we could schedule a meeting together and really look into how we can best solve those specific pain points for you. So, thanks, everyone, for attending our webinar today with Encore, and thank you to Melissa for arranging everything. Feel free to reach out to us directly, if you have any questions or if you’d like to see any more information, using the contact information on the screen here. And we hope to hear from you soon. Thanks.
Join this session to learn the impact of COVID-19 on accounting departments, & how to adapt to the new norm.
Modern finance departments have made the shift to hybrid work. Enabling individuals to effectively collaborate while working remotely is key to your success as a finance team.
12:00 pm – 12:30 pm PST
Automate Hybrid Accounting Teams in GP
12:00 pm – 12:30 pm PST