Wireless Field Service

Increasing the efficiency of field technicians is vital for business growth.

One way to encourage heightened productivity is to eliminate the paper trail that follows each service call and go wireless. Similar to the keypad devices used in parcel service to track merchandise and receive signatures, a handheld wireless system can save your business much more than time.

There are some challenges associated with service techs doing work orders on paper. First, they have to collect it after the service call is done. Next they must process it for billing. Of course, you have to read it, including parts numbers and handwritten notes. You have to enter it (the information) into your accounting system for billing, file it and finally, mail it.

Consider the number of hours saved by eliminating the manual steps of gathering and inputting service call information and not having to deal with a tech’s paper work, spelling and the stuff he really does not want to do. When the work is done, the tech simply clicks and taps on an electronic device to capture information and electronically load it into your accounting system ready for review and billing in minutes, not tomorrow or days later. The tech could even upload time traveled, started, went to lunch, etc.

Wireless Benefits
A wireless connection should provide information in four areas:

  1. Billing: Labor hours (regular/overtime), parts (inventory/purchased), miscellaneous charges (trip charges/consumables)
  2. Notes: Handwritten description of what was done
  3. Customer Approval: Signature of customer and when the work was done
  4. Information to Do the Job: Customer’s name/address, directions, PO number, equipment at location, brief history, work order notes (what and why the call is being run), customer notes (must get PO number, see Joe, etc.), contact phone numbers and priority.

A wireless connection can enable your dispatcher to send work orders individually or in a group. Work orders can be pulled back after sending them. Purchasing can be done at the customer’s site. Store number stamps can be sent immediately. Pictures of the repair work can be taken and sent to headquarters. Credit card payments can be processed, and equipment bar codes can be scanned. With automatic time stamp completion, a wireless device allows billing to be sent in hours, instead of days, reducing the possibility of clerical errors.

Of course, there is a downside to a wireless connection. Consider and plan for what will happen when the technician is not in the coverage area. And be sure to look for the right device to do what you need and want it to do; there are many available.

Wireless Solutions
The most cost-effective solution may be as simple as the installation of a high-speed wireless card on your PC. This allows your service tech, in network, to simply fill out a form concerning the service call and send it back to the office via the Internet once the work is completed. The tech must be in coverage with your carrier (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, etc.). A separate system could be purchased to transmit information back to the office, but this would not integrate into your accounting system.

You can also purchase systems that fully integrate your field techs with your accounting system, capture signatures, process credit cards, take pictures, scan part bar codes and allow for real-time updates.

Whichever you choose, eliminating the paper trail is a good step forward on the path to greater productivity.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Sean Hoyt Meet the Author
Sean Hoyt is owner of S2000 Service Software, LLC, located in Elephant Butte, New Mexico, and on the Web at www.s2000win.com.