Residential Field Services – What To Expect From Field Service Management Software
- Customer Insights
- Field Service Insights
From HVAC technicians to pool cleaners, construction contractors, housekeepers, solar panel installers, and beyond, our homes require countless kinds of “field service,” often regularly or recurring. Field service technicians worldwide climb into their trucks every morning and head to the client’s site. Residential field services are, therefore, a massive portion of all field services performed worldwide.
Serving residential customers comes with plenty of opportunities, but there are unique challenges and different expectations compared to commercial customers. People are understandably very particular about their homes and expect a high standard of quality, care, and consistency from anyone they invite inside and entrust with their safety and comfort. At the same time, providers often operate in highly competitive industries where small mistakes can drive customers to another plumber or landscaper. For these providers, every service call is a chance to make or break a relationship with a loyal customer. The stakes are high.
The residential field service market is changing fast. Everything from the green economy to the automated household creates exciting opportunities for providers to sell more and connect with new customers. But expectations are also on the rise, especially post-Covid, as people start to see their homes as workplaces, schools, gyms, and gathering places – not just living spaces.
Providers who can adapt and elevate their services – while withstanding things like recessions or supply chain disruptions – are well-positioned to thrive moving forward. Those who can’t, however, will struggle to remain relevant or compete for much longer.
FSM Software – The Difference Maker in Residential Field Service
Residential field service providers have thrived for decades, so much so that there seemed no need to implement more technology. They use computers, of course, and probably multiple software tools every day. But many do not think of themselves as “tech-driven enterprises,” where data informs everything and digital tools run the show. As a result, residential field service providers have been slower to adopt field service management (FSM) software. And even among the adopters, the FSM software in place may be the wrong one for what residential providers need.
The right FSM software, however, can be a difference-maker for residential field service providers of all kinds. By digitizing and integrating various aspects of service delivery – scheduling, work order management, inventory and returns, field mobility, and much more – onto one platform, FSM software gives providers the ability to monitor and manage everything they do from a single place. Countless errors, inefficiencies, and pain points go away once there’s a shared toolkit and a single source of truth for everyone in the company. Furthermore, endless opportunities to improve productivity, consistency, and profitability present themselves to providers using the right FSM software to the fullest extent.
No longer can residential field service providers, even those with just a few technicians, get by with clipboards, spreadsheets, and data scattered everywhere. Reputation isn’t enough, either. The kind of experience homeowners expect is the kind that only software can deliver. But there’s a critical caveat: the wrong FSM software can be as bad or worse than having no software.
For all residential field service providers, now is the time to consider what capabilities technicians, schedulers, and dispatchers require and compare that to the current capabilities. Then, find FSM software that can fill the gaps and take service delivery to the next level.
Must-Have Features in FSM Software
Plenty of FSM software on the market offers a one-size-fits-all solution meant to serve the needs of any field service provider. But as we said earlier, residential service is unique. Appropriate software for a significant builder won’t be suitable for a small home remodeler. Likewise, basic point solutions for inventory tracking or technician scheduling won’t have the impact of robust Field Service Management software. Needing sophisticated yet straightforward tech solutions, many residential providers end up with solutions that don’t align with their fundamental requirements. Finding one that does starts by understanding what those requirements are. That list includes:
- Optimized Tech Experience – When techs can access an app in the field to get information, record data, or connect with the home office, it boosts first-time fix rates along with most other essential metrics. More than just offering an app, however, the FSM software mobile app should have a quality UX/UI, be accessible on all standard devices, and be accessible offline when there isn’t internet access. A great app transforms what techs can do.
- Simplified Scheduling – Manual scheduling and dispatching are time-intensive and error-prone processes. FSM software can automate scheduling and consolidate more information into a single view. Either way, simplified scheduling ensures the right technicians with the right skills and equipment arrive on site as quickly as possible, prepared to do the job that day.
- Improved Inventory Management – FSM software gives managers better visibility into the materials coming in and out the door, plus better forecasts of future needs based on the job calendar. These insights help providers avoid buying too much or too little while tracking where every piece of material (tool, equipment, etc.) goes within the organization.
- Expanded Visibility – The best FSM software eliminates information defects whenever and wherever they exist by giving users, from techs to execs, better visibility into everything going on. That starts with collecting more data from customers and the field, then integrating, organizing, distributing, and analyzing it. FSM software automates as much of this as possible to help people see broader, deeper, and faster.
- Streamlined Reporting – Reports reveal where the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are within a business, and leading FSM software makes reporting more accessible than ever. When all the relevant data live in one place with accessible reporting tools built around it, decision-makers can track, analyze, or understand whatever they wish and produce reports on demand.
- Faster Resolutions – Customer issues can alienate loyal customers while throwing off the projected flow of service delivery. The improved communication and collaboration afforded by FSM software ensure these issues get resolved ASAP with as little disruption as possible. Mistakes are inevitable, but great FSM software minimizes them while empowering providers to take them in stride.
- Direct Customer Communication – Calls between techs and clients are inconvenient, plus the information goes away when the call ends. A better communication system relies on SMS messages sent from and stored within the FSM software so the information exchanged can enter the customer or work record.
- Digitized Payment Tools – Today’s customers expect fast, simple, and secure digital payment options – they don’t want to get a paper bill in the mail. FSM software can make the invoicing and payment process extremely easy by automatically converting work orders into invoices which customers can pay through all their preferred channels.
- Centralized Tech Capabilities – Residential providers with small or nonexistent tech staff need the benefits of FSM software without the complexities and challenges associated with enterprise software. Look for FSM software that works in conjunction with other software for accounting, HR, sales, or whatever else so that the business runs on one centralized and standardized tech foundation rather than a series of disconnected or poorly integrated solutions.
Customer Engagement – The Most Important Feature of All
While it’s important to judge FSM software based on the features it does or does not offer, the exact contents of the toolkit matter less than the impact that it can make. And while that impact is undoubtedly felt by technicians, schedulers, and everyone else, all that culminates in what’s most important of all: the customer experience.
When someone has a positive experience, they might leave a positive review online, recommend the provider to a family member, and call that provider back the instant they need additional assistance. Alternatively, a negative experience can lead to negative reviews, angry disputes, and years of lost business.
Keeping the customer satisfied could not be more critical in residential field service, so evaluating any potential FSM software in that context is important. Does it improve the experience just for the users? Or does it empower those users to enhance the experience for the customers they serve? The best FSM software does the latter. And since those providers deliver a better experience than the competition can, they enjoy significant advantages in the local marketplace. As we said earlier, it all comes down to the right FSM software.
NextService – Redefining What FSM Software Can Do
The NextService FSM software has become popular with many residential field service providers because it delivers all the features listed above, plus many more that collectively turn service delivery into a fine-tuned machine. What distinguishes NextService is that it runs on the same platform as NetSuite, meaning the two systems share the same databases and technical architecture to sync perfectly. Bottom line: this gives residential field service providers a more robust and extensive set of tools, with fewer technical challenges and lower costs. Few other FSM software options on the market are better suited to residential field service providers’ operational, technical, and strategic needs.
See for yourself – schedule a demo at your convenience.