When’s the last time you made a conscious effort to improve the efficiency of your field service performance? And, no, I don’t mean giving your technicians a pep talk. I’m talking about a concentrated effort to analyze and reorient your current field service processes to improve customer satisfaction and excellence in the field. With growing customer demands, field service excellence is rapidly becoming a top priority for HVACR companies as they realize more opportunities for sales, revenue, and customer retention in service than ever before.

But, making the appropriate investments and adjustments to noticeably improve service levels requires a comprehensive, structured, and well-coordinated approach to service management that can only be achieved with the adoption of new technology. So, you’re probably wondering, where do I go from here in my journey toward field service excellence?

The simple answer is: mobile. A mobile field service app is the single most useful tool you can invest in to improve performance in the field. It automates technicians’ daily tasks, like entering hours, taking pictures, collecting signatures, tracking inventory, and documenting work order information while connecting the entire company and even assisting back office workers.

The Role of Mobile Apps

Once you take the leap to mobile, you’ll find that it can positively influence nearly every area of your operation. According to Tracy Kot, director of professional services at ProCon Solutions and 20-year HVAC industry veteran, “Mobile technology helps create a paperless system allowing all information to flow back into your office daily. This creates the opportunity to take better care of your customers by providing quicker billings as well as signature capture and photos to back up and sell necessary repairs.”

Automated Inventory Alerts and Visibility

Getting the right parts to the right place at the right time and tracking their usage can be a complicated task. A mobile app streamlines inventory processes by establishing alerts that keep key stakeholders informed, such as alerts for:

• When items haven’t shipped or arrived;

• Items without standard costing;

• Technician use of inventory;

• Non-stock parts;

• Obsolete parts; and

• Shelf life expiration.

Alerts allow busy service organizations to “set it and forget it.” After they’re set up, the alerts simply run in the background of your organization, keeping everyone informed and records accurate.

With an integrated mobile app, techs can also update parts received and parts used in the field, automatically update the inventory record, and grant the rest of the company visibility into the parts on each van, making their technicians a more integral part of the spare parts and inventory management process.

Because of its hazardous effects on the environment, companies using R-22 need to track its usage or they risk being audited by the EPA and facing huge fines. With this additional responsibility for HVAC companies, collaboration between refrigerant tracking and inventory is critical. When refrigerant monitoring is part of your inventory tracking system in the mobile app, it’s simple to have technicians update how much they use each time they’re servicing refrigeration equipment, keeping refrigerant records accurate and up to date.

Mobile Pictures and Signatures

Timeliness is a huge factor to consider as you add more service customers and grow your business. How long does it take to perform a service, process an invoice, send it to the customer, and get paid? Mobile apps let techs capture customers’ signatures on site. They can see warranties, contracts, and pricing information for the equipment so techs know what to charge and can turn a work order into an invoice in seconds.

A picture is worth a thousand words. That phrase couldn’t be truer for HVAC field service. Customers are more likely to realize the need to repair or replace equipment when there’s a picture in front of them; so, with the ability to take pictures, technicians can convince customers to repair necessary equipment. For example, a picture of a crack in the heat exchanger, a broken belt, or a broken fan blade will be much more convincing than simply telling the customer a part is broken. Quoting automation software lets techs make sales on site, gaining lucrative service opportunities and loyal customers for your organization.

Mobile Equipment Inspections

Mobile inspection applications are valuable for HVAC organizations because they increase productivity, drive inspection consistency, simplify compliance, and eliminate paperwork. And best of all for HVAC companies, they’re customizable. Because you work with different kinds of equipment of varying shapes, sizes, and demands, being able to customize your inspections is crucial. Each customized inspection form contains a series of questions that are specific enough to provide accurate data without wasting time taking lengthy written notes, allowing you to measure specific elements on a variety of equipment with minimal effort and only minor adjustments.

When to Invest?

According to the 2013 Sage SMB Survey on Mobile Devices, almost nine out of ten (85 percent) decision makers believe mobile technology has had a positive effect on their company’s productivity. As you face higher demands for better service in the field, you’ll find that first-time fix rates and higher levels of productivity and competency in the field are necessary in order to compete in the HVAC market. The time to invest in a mobile field service app is now — before you fall behind.

Publication date: 3/24/2014 

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