Rarely can a contractor survive with a single tool in their toolbox. Most professionals carry a variety of tools to handle different aspects of the job. It's no different when it comes to the software that runs your service business. Today's teams rely on a variety of tools to run their business from day to day - specialized software designed for specific functions and departments.
And it’s not only the tools – it’s the people as well. A successful service business is a lot like a successful sports franchise – you need players with a variety of different talents for different positions that can come together to win games.
An often-overlooked area of field service management software is its ability to integrate with other tools. Field service management solutions are often sold as “all-in-one” solutions, combining a variety of tools into one package that help service teams run their business.
And for some service teams – those with smaller teams and simple workflows – a straightforward field service management package can provide all the basic tools they need. But for growing teams that want the best tools in every area of their operations, or teams with a complex workflow, integration is a requirement for their field service tools.
The Customer Lifecycle
The tools used in the field are dictated by the stage of the project and the technician's role. You might have a demolition team with sledgehammers, only to later have an installer with a drill and screwdrivers putting up new cabinets. Different parts of the process call for a different approach and different tools.
Back in the office, the same structure applies. A typical workflow for a service team, including the software tools they use, looks something like this:
Marketing efforts are coordinated through a variety of tools designed to drive awareness. Common tools include e-mail marketing software, paid search platforms, design tools, and analytics programs that track marketing success.
Sales teams work inside of the company's CRM to track new leads and manage sales activity. In many instances, the field service management application is used to create estimates for the customer.
When the estimate is accepted, the field technicians are notified and a work order is created. The technicians use field service management software to manage the work being done, including completing checklists, taking photos, and noting the parts used on the job.
The technician completes the job, which is then sent to be invoiced, and for payment to be collected. The office team uses accounting software to ensure payment is accurately applied. A few days later, the customer service team contacts the customer, asking about their experience, and usually asking if they would like to leave a review.
This process is constantly in motion, and never ending. The reviews collected at the end of a customer engagement are often used in marketing activities to accquire more customers. A negative experience at any point in the customer's journey can disrupt this cycle and lead to lost revenue, which is why the customer experience for service companies is so critical.
This process isn't rigid or static, either – the steps often overlap, or steps are completed in a different order. For example, a customer may call in to sales after accepting the estimate to change their request, requiring a new estimate and work order to be created.
Integrating Across the Lifecycle
What does this process look like in the real-world? Let's take a look using a real workflow with real software programs.:
The marketing team uses Mailchimp to send an e-mail to their database, informing them of a new summer service special.
A customer sees the special offer and is interested. They go to the website, and call in to the sales team. This call is logged using a call analytics program such as AvidTrak. The sales representative in the office uses ServiceBridge to create an estimate, and assigns it to a field technician.
The field technician uses ServiceBridge to create the estimate. When the estimate is accepted, it converts into a work order. The work is logged and completed using ServiceBridge. The work order is closed and prepared to be invoiced.
The invoice is created in ServiceBridge, which syncs with the company’s accounting software, QuickBooks Online. The invoice can then be handled by the accounting team, or the technician can collect payment on-site using a card reader. In both instances, the payment is processed through a gateway such as Authorize.net
A few days after the job has been completed, the customer service team contacts the customer for feedback. In many cases, they will use a program such as ReviewBuzz to automate the solicitation of reviews from customers after the job is completed.
Satisfied customers leave positive reviews, which are then featured on the company’s website and in future marketing materials, helping to drive more sales on the next marketing campaign.
With multiple programs assisting at different stages in the service lifecycle, it can prove difficult to get the full picture of your company's performance. When the first marketing activity is created in one system, and the payment is collected in another, how can the marketing team get a clear picture of ROI from their campaigns? When sales representatives in the call center are logging activity in one program, and payment is collected in another later down the process, how can company owners assess sales performance and pay commissions appropriately?
Integration between programs allows for a clear picture of the customer lifecycle, allowing business owners to make smart, data-driven decisions that empower every part of their business.
In most cases, one program serves as the master record and key program – in the case of field service, it’s often the CRM or service management application being used. In this scenario, ServiceBridge is the core program that serves as the source of truth. How can field service companies tie their efforts into actual execution – payments collected, marketing activity, and more - using integration between programs?
A customer record is created in ServiceBridge containing details such as phone number and e-mail address. This information can be tied to Mailchimp and Avidtrak to see which marketing campaigns are driving sales qualified leads.
The work order is managed through ServiceBridge and invoiced through it. With ServiceBridge, our native integration to QuickBooks Online automatically syncs data between the two programs, ensuring accounting records are accurate.
Both ServiceBridge and QuickBooks Online offer integration with Authorize.Net and other payment gateways, ensuring that payment is correctly collected and accounted for.
ServiceBridge customers can use ReviewBuzz as part of their follow-up e-mails, which helps collect feedback and promotion the company as a good service provider.
By connecting the different tools throughout the lifecycle, field service companies can understand detailed insights such as which marketing campaigns are likely to drive satisfied customers. Connecting these programs also helps to avoid confusion and eliminate unneeded activities, which drives the sales cycle forward.
Unique Workflows with Integration
Of course, not every workflow is standard. The board nature of the field service industry means that there are many different additions and changes to a standard workflow. Some of them include:
Restoration companies often use a dedicated program for estimation and processing insurance claims.
Painting, construction, and remodeling companies often have their own estimation programs in addition to field service management, that allow them to create accurate estimates based on materials, labor, and square footage.
Pest control companies and some pool service companies need to track chemical usage at a customer site.
Some companies, particularly those with retail departments, need a dedicated solution for inventory.
In many cases, the use of a public API allows companies to connect their field service application with a third-party program designed for a specialized use. The API connects the data between ServiceBridge and other programs, allowing service providers to have full visibility into their work orders and overall operations, despite using multiple programs to run their business.
The right tools help us get the job done faster and produce better quality work - both in the office, or in the field. But while a screwdriver and a power drill can co-exist in the same toolbox without issue, field service software needs to be able to integrate with other programs in order to produce the best results.
By integrating your field service management application with other specialized tools, you give your business the tools to succeed - driving more leads, converting more estimates, achieving a better ROI on marketing efforts, improving your brand reputation, eliminating accounting errors, and more.
It takes more then one tool to get the job done. But building the right toolbox is important – and for service businesses, integration between the software programs they rely on is critically important.