How field service companies are managing Covid-19 risk
Digitalisation helps field service companies in a number of ways from customer relations via social media channels to e-commerce to GPS. It’s indisputable that technology boosts productivity and increases efficiencies across business.
Companies with a field services division who fail to embrace new and emerging technology face efficiency challenges. However, with the Covid-19 pandemic, lack of technology has more far reaching implications. It can impact the health and welfare of staff.
During the last few months the world has been facing the worst public health crisis in modern times, caused by Covid-19. Everyone, including field service companies must make the appropriate changes in order to adapt – and survive. In many countries, field service companies are considered essential work, and therefore have had to continue to provide their services during the coronavirus outbreak.
Some of the challenges of the Field Services Management industry amid the pandemic include:
- Limited on-site service delivery: Contractors are concerned about the safety and health of employees and customers. As a result, on-site jobs of technicians are limited to critical cases only.
- Safety and liability: The safety of workers is of paramount concern to field managers, particularly in this pandemic. It’s essential to ensure the health and safety of both your staff and your customers while keeping your service up and running.
- Lack of communication in the field: It is critical for supervisors to constantly track technicians while in the field to enable the constant flow of information.
APH has worked with companies with field service divisions for many years. Not only are our clients using SAP Business One’s field services module to help navigate through this unprecedented crisis but they’ve also implemented some other measures, which we’ll share with you below…
Go as digital as possible
Field service software tools, like SAP Business One’s field services module, enable you to digitise most of your frequent tasks, such as scheduling jobs, dispatching teams, managing inventory or invoicing customers. This makes working from home possible for most of the team – at least the people who usually stay at the office – and therefore reduces contagion risks.
Protect the technicians in the field
While the office staff can do the majority of their work from home with the help of ERP software, technicians must continue to work in the field as often their jobs are important for many essential areas in this pandemic. These include medical installations and utility management and supply.
With this in mind, clients have adopted all the necessary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. They’ve limited team members in the field to one per vehicle and reduced their interactions as much as possible. Also, they’ve provided them with all the relevant protective clothing, such as disposable masks, gloves and plenty of hand sanitiser.
Another solution that many clients have adopted is the Swing Shift protocol where they’ve divided their team into several independent bubbles to ensure they work in different schedules without any contact between each bubble. A good field service management tool can help implement and manage this.
Adopting a customer-centric approach
An overriding concern for our clients is how they can protect the wellbeing of customers.
One client has implemented pre-site video calls to try and assess an issue and diagnose any faults or potentials problems before arriving on site – this then minimises the risk for both the technician and client, as well as the amount of time at a site.
Once the job is done, the usual customer signature stage is omitted to maintain social distance and avoid sharing a device. Many technicians are also armed with anti-bacterial spray and wipes to ensure a clean-up of the area they’ve been in. Any payments are conducted over the phone where at all possible with invoices generated and sent via the field software management software.
To ensure protocols are followed at every house we’ve also generated software that prompts technicians to follow Covid-19 protocols at each site. They need to electronically sign to certify they’ve followed instructions and where there is a hazard or issue, it’s reported in real time.
To successfully survive these tough times, field service organisations must adopt new strategies and technologies at every level of operation, to optimise their services, protect staff and retain clients.
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