Implementing new technology to increase efficiency, facilitate growth, reduce paperwork and other improvements is a top priority for many field service companies. In fact, 74 percent of more than 400 field service businesses surveyed by Software Advice, a field service software research site, reported they wanted to implement new technology in three months or less.
Yet, implementing technology remains a scary prospect for field service companies. It’s a big investment and there are a lot of options out there. We put together a list of top frequently asked questions field service businesses have about a leading CRM and business software ecosystem, Salesforce.
1. How can Salesforce actually increase my profits if it costs money to use?
In order to be successful, it’s important to treat technology as an asset instead of a liability. It needs to make money for you. There’s two ways it can help you make money at a high level: close new customers and retain existing customers. A good CRM such as Salesforce will enable your sales reps to manage leads and opportunities so nothing falls through the cracks. You can also use Salesforce Communities as Web portals for existing customers to provide them with account information as a point of differentiation. Salesforce has a great ROI calculator you can use to estimate your return.
2. Can I save money by hiring a programmer to write software for me?
In the field services industry, most companies are moving away from custom-built solutions. They can get real ugly and really expensive fast because you have to build, support and manage the solution yourself. There’s more safety in numbers in a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. You pay for per user so there’s predictable costs and ROI. You also don’t have to pay for regular maintenance and you can access your apps from anywhere in the world since they’re hosted in the cloud.
3. Can Excel and other similar tools satisfy my software needs and allow me to compete in the space of others using more advanced software?
No. Excel and other ad hoc way of managing leads such as email and plain old pen and paper don’t provide the automation and intelligence you need to manage leads and accounts effectively. Plus, there’s no continuity in data if accounts and leads change hands.
4. How far into my organization should I integrate software?
With cloud technology (open APIs) and the integration tools available today, it’s possible for deep integration. The goal is for all systems to have common data with one entry point. That makes it easier for your teams to manage and share data with a unified view and central login. We typically reommend Salesforce because its integration capabilities mean it can help manage other areas of your business beyond CRM.
5. How can I overcome the learning curve and help increase buy-in with new technology?
Technology is only as good as executive commitment. You must have executive buy in to drive adoption. Don’t make a new system optional. Identify use cases, conduct training and clearly explain what’s in it for the users.
6. I already have multiple avenues for information – email, apps, logins, etc. How will adding yet another system increase our productivity?
With integration,the goal is actually to reduce the number of data entry points and logins. As much as possible, you want all your data in a shared system versus entering it in email, Excel, whiteboard, sticky note, etc.
7. How would Salesforce help us build relationships with our clients and increase retention?
A CRM such as Sales Cloud allows your sales reps to see all their accounts, contacts, opportunities, tasks, and events in a single place. They can store customer preferences, customer notes, files, create follow-up reminders and more. That all leads to better service. You can also use software as an interface with clients. Portals allow your customers to log in and see account information, pay invoices, submit work orders, track scheduling and more. That all makes their job easier and more efficient, too.
8. How can Salesforce increase employee productivity?
Salesforce.com products for field services can greatly streamline processes such as inventory management; scheduling routing and dispatching; routine and emergency maintenance, and more. It also reduces paperwork for sales and accounting, enabling them to focus more on selling and closing deals faster.
9. How are field service companies using Salesforce to grow their businesses?
Field service companies are using Salesforce to grow business in three primary ways: operations, sales and service. There are lots of great tools available to make service-based businesses much more efficient, which translates to more customers and more revenue.
10. How much information should I share with my customers through IT systems?
The best thing to do when considering technology is to do some research with your customers on what they want. Develop requirements for the software based on their unique needs. Ask them what their preferred contact method is and keep in mind that many customers need digital records of meetings and phone conversations to reference later or share with other team members. Analyze your customer service data to see what information could be provided through a 24/7 Web portal rather than calling into a service center.
11. What aspects of my business can I improve with Salesforce?
There are apps in the Salesforce.com ecosystem that help improve almost every aspect of your business. Salesforce Sales Cloud is a CRM that enables your sales teams to grow sales and improve service. Salesforce Pardot helps your marketing team nurture prospects, retain and cross-sell customers. ServiceMax helps streamline operations for service trucks. Concur helps with expense management. Paperless Proposal streamlines how you create, send and manage proposals. There’s also more niche apps for specific types of service providers and everyday tasks like expense management and sales incentive management.
12. How do I know what software I need?
Start with a business problem. Think about kinks in your processes that hold back your service delivery, lead to service issues or cause you to lose bids and customers. Then research software options that will solve those problems. There’s usually not a one-size-fits-all solution so look at apps that integrate easily and can be customized. A consultant with experience in the field service industry can also help you identify solutions based on your pain points.