If your mobile workforce is leveraging mobility, you’re familiar with some of the benefits it can bring. Automating paper-based processes, getting techs on the job faster, giving techs real-time access to customer history and any necessary job aids while at the customer site, faster invoicing to shorten billing cycles, and so on. But if you’re like many companies I speak with that have a mobile solution in place, you’re wondering where the next wave of productivity gains is going to come from.
Eliminate Tech Calls and Emails
One trend that’s producing real results for many companies is tech-to-tech social collaboration. Various software providers are introducing social collaboration into their mobile offerings, enabling technicians to interact quickly and easily with their peers.
Imagine an interface like Facebook or Twitter, where you can easily exchange information, photos, and videos in real time. If a tech is at a customer site and runs into an issue he wasn’t expecting and isn’t sure how to deal with, he can send a question to his co-workers to see who can help. If there’s an image or video of what he’s dealing with, he can attach that for context. This provides instant access to a network of peer knowledge that isn’t easily accessible otherwise. Sure, the tech having the issue could call around to see who could help him diagnose the problem, or send an email to the back-office requesting help, but those methods are much more time consuming than a real-time collaboration tool like a tech-to-tech Facebook or Twitter.
This advancement is just another example of how the technology-driven consumer world is bleeding over into the mobile workforce environment. I think, though, that it’s an excellent idea — there’s no reason techs shouldn’t be able to communicate and collaborate as easily on the job as we can via social networks in our personal lives.
Challenge: Worker Buy-in
That said, this trend is one that may not be received with as much enthusiasm by older members of the workforce who aren’t as familiar with personal social networks, as are younger members who are probably more active on networks like Facebook and Twitter. Regardless, it’s an opportunity to enable techs to exchange information more efficiently, which helps them get jobs done faster and can further improve productivity.
If you’d like to take a look at some examples of tech-to-tech social collaboration tools, here are a few that I’m aware of: ClickSoftware’s SHOUT! ClickMobile app, ServicePulse by ServiceMax, SmartCollaboration by TOA Technologies, and the collaboration & social media component of ServiceVision by Astea International.
This was written by Sarah Nicastro, editor-in-chief of Field Technologies magazine, and is reposted here with permission.
So instead of one tech calling another tech for advice we have several techs, possibly with different ideas, all trying to respond at once? Add in the daily trading of “my cute kid” pictures, political raves and Jesus saves messages and the “bleed over” from social networking would be complete.
Seriously, nothing about this idea makes sense to me.
Regular exchanges of information between our techs at meetings or when working together day-to-day on various projects will usually give any technician a good idea of who to call within the team for possible answers to a particular problem.
While I know communication is vital to success, in my opinion, a social network would just add another layer of distraction.
Alan, thanks so much for your thoughts. How these tools are used certainly depends on the tech. Regardless, social media use on the job is something we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the future and provides a helpful tool for real-time communication. There are certainly other ways to communicate that filter out the distractions of “cute kid” photos and those political rants we love to hate, but wanted to point out a couple consumer facing tools/networks that can apply to the world of field service.
have to say, for service i am not sure this is a great way to go, customers are not real happy when you make calls whilst working for them, using facebook whilst in a working situation could present altogether the wrong perception. there may well be an argument to collaborate outside of working hours, but dont see the same during working hours. And god forbid that techs start social conversations with a businesses customers, that could lead to all sorts of issues!
I’m one of SmartVan’s editors – thanks for reading! You make some good points. I think the point here was that techs should always use their good judgement on service calls and take care to put the customer first during all interactions. However, if a question arises on the job that could easily be answered by consulting FB or Twitter, techs should use those resources as they would any service manual.
You are correct that any resource that can give you the answer you require is valuable, my main worry is the perception when using social media.