From contactless options to highly personalized experiences, the world of field services has changed a lot in the past year and a half. But what will the industry look like post-pandemic?
Your customers and clients have become accustomed to new ways of interacting with businesses. And it's changing their expectations for what will come next. As people become increasingly comfortable with the ultrafast service made possible by automation and artificial intelligence, pen-and-paper data collection methods are becoming obsolete.
The question to ask now is:
Are your field data collection processes keeping pace with your customers’ expectations?
If you’re in the process of selecting new technology, two key features can help ensure success.
If your field services staff is still manually jotting down notes, it’s definitely time for a change.
To understand why on-the-go digital data collection is so important, consider what happened at a growing electricity company in Colorado:
Because they frequently work in rural areas with limited broadband connectivity, the company’s field services staff relied heavily on paper forms to complete day-to-day activities like tracking meters and documenting projects.The team spent countless hours filling out forms by hand and transferring paper files to the office for manual data entry and storage. It was inefficient, time-consuming, and cumbersome.
But those same field technicians found a way to use more than 200 online forms for fast, easy field data collection. There’s no need to write anything down or re-enter data at the office. Staff members simply fill out a few fields on tablets or smartphones to have the information automatically uploaded to the right system and stored for future reference—no manual work required.
So, how did they manage to make such a significant change? The answer lies in offline syncing capabilities.
While many online form builders work only when connected to the internet, some offline form solutions allow mobile users to collect data from any location and device, without having to rely on internet or Wi-Fi. The information syncs automatically with third-party apps as soon as the device is back online. These offline data collection tools are an ideal option for field services since they don’t limit you to locations with internet access.
When it comes to accurate and timely field data collection, offline syncing is just one part of the equation. Automation is incredibly important, too.
For example: The electricity field technicians mentioned above aren't using offline forms just to collect data. Each time they complete a new form submission, they're triggering important workflows, too. By setting up digital workflows, the team is able to have information sent directly from the field to the right people, departments, and back-office systems.
These days, automation can be used to handle a wide variety of everyday tasks, from electronic signature collection to photo documentation—plus dozens more mission-critical activities in between. You can upload images, assign tasks, organize workflows, and even coordinate action items across departments. And the more you automate, the more effective your field services team will be. Something as simple as creating a paperless workflow powered by online forms, digital documents, and e-signatures can quickly add up to hours of time saved in the field.
While offline capabilities and automated workflows aren’t the only considerations, they’re definitely two of the most important. When selecting a field data collection tool, you’ll also want to watch for:
- Out-of-the-box integrations with the tools you use most. If you need to collect payments from customers while in the field, for instance, be sure any solution you choose connects with popular payment processors.
- Security features to minimize exposure and prevent breach attempts. When collecting customer information and sensitive data, any field tools you use should be fully equipped with up-to-date features designed to protect against data hacks.
Bottom line: With the right tools and technology, your field services staff can easily meet the ever-changing needs and expectations of your customers.
Are you looking to get started with a new tool today? Formstack provides everything you need to securely collect data from the field, with or without an internet connection. Check out Formstack Go to learn how you can collect on-the-go submissions, integrate with your other tools, and more.