Best-in-class field service operations have the flexibility to accommodate customers’ needs while improving their payment collection processes. When a technician, using a mobile computer screen, can review an invoice with a customer, electronically capture a customer’s signature, collect payment, and send an email receipt with the touch of a button — this is a fast, efficient, and convenient service that every customer seeks.

Gone are the days of clunky, slow field payment systems. Today, many companies in the DSD (direct-store-delivery) and field service markets are moving away from traditional handheld devices to more robust systems. Companies, in their search for ways to reduce costs, want more than the ability to input an order in the field. They are equipping their route drivers and field sales teams with solutions that allow them to close deals or upsell at the initial point of contact with the customer in the field. To achieve this, their field payment technology often includes a cellular connection, wireless credit card processing, magnetic stripe readers (MSRs), and wireless printers.

But, field payment experts say this constantly evolving service is again on the verge of big changes. With the growing popularity of tablet computers, some predict these devices will quickly dominate field payment. Other experts suggest it will take some time for tablets to show up on the scene because they are not yet rugged enough nor are they capable of accepting all the peripherals necessary for efficient field payment.

Shorter Sales Cycles and Increased Productivity Drive Field Payment Adoption

More and more companies, big and small, are adopting field payment and are driven primarily by a desire to shorten their sales cycles — some see a drop from 30 days to a single day with field payment systems. They recognize this efficiency is increasing the productivity of their employees and improving customer satisfaction.

Collecting payment at the completion of a service call has become a greater priority for service companies over the past year, according to Roger Cresswell, director of industry marketing for Intermec, which offers a broad range of mobile computing products and services. Cresswell says existing and prospective customers considering the use of handheld computers in their field service operations are inquiring about MSR capabilities of Intermec’s mobile computers and smart printers. “Overall, I’d say we’ve seen a 25% increase in the sale of these components over the last 12 months,” Cresswell says.

For a fully functioning field payment solution, you’ll need a device with a full operating system. “Mobile devices that run a full operating system empower field workers to touch multiple back end systems allowing their sales teams to complete orders, swipe credit card payments, obtain signatures for authorization, and provide printed customer receipts and contracts at the point of customer engagement,” says Ed McCabe, national sales manager for Panasonic Solutions Company, a provider of rugged mobile computers. This allows for upselling, requotion of work orders, accurate statements of work, and updated contracts.

To read the rest of this article, including whether rugged tablets are the future of field payment, head over to Field Technologies Online (subscription required).

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Field Technologies Online provides is a resource for the optimization of field workers, service and assets. The publication's goal is to provide companies in the field service, transportation/distribution, government, public works and utilities industries with information on mobile technologies that can be used to improve productivity and drive efficiency.