What Role Does Software Play In The Field Service Industry? Part 2: Customer Relationship Management

This is the second article in a nine part series about the role that software plays in the field service industry. It’s focus is on customer relationship management processes and how software can help you run a better service business by managing your customer relationship records. We’re passionate about software and the service industry, and we want to help you find the right software for your business, whether it’s our product or a competitor’s.You’ll receive the next white paper in the series next week, but if you can’t wait we encourage you to use the links at the bottom of the page to read the rest of the series now.

How Can Software Improve CRM Processes For The Service Industry?

CRM Requirements

As a service business your most valuable asset is your customers. Your customer relationship records should be all of the following things:

It might not be immediately obvious how a customer relationship management system can be all of the above things, but actually they’re all closely related to each other and any good CRM system should employ all of the above characteristics. For instance, keeping CRM data current relies on the system being simple to update and integrated with other processes. Having a mobile CRM system also helps keep data current since it can be updated from the field right when new info is acquired. Since the different characteristics of a CRM system are so closely tied together we’ll be examining the details of a good CRM system in chunks rather than piece by piece.

Customer Info Should Be Current

Current CRM Info Is Useful Because:

Current contact info          —–>          Stay in touch with relevant contacts amongst customers
Current site address         —–>          Ensure that your techs go to the right place for orders
Current billing info             —–>          Ensure that your invoices are received and payments made
Current sales notes          —–>          Keep leads warm and stay in touch at appropriate intervals
Current custom notes       —–>          Track unique statuses, needs and uploaded documents

Maintaining current, correct data enables a service business to excel at what they do: provide excellent service to their customers.

Some businesses fail to maintain current CRM info because they do not incorporate the supporting characteristics of a CRM system that enable data to remain current. Some of those supporting characteristics and their relation to keeping data current are described below:

  • Mobile
  • If your CRM system is not mobile then when your technicians acquire updated information for contacts or equipment on-site they won’t be able to record it immediately. This increases the chance that new info will be lost in transit before techs return to the office, and decreases how current your CRM data is.
  • Accessible
    • The right personnel need access and permission to update your CRM data and keep it current. On the other hand, however, you also need the ability to limit access to sensitive customer data. If you don’t have the functionality to control access and permissions to your CRM database on a person to person basis then you’re probably not getting the most out of your CRM system, or it might be at risk from being incorrectly maintained by unqualified personnel.
  • Automated
    • Automation can be a fantastic way to keep CRM data current. For example, when adding a new contact to a company that’s in your CRM rolodex, it’s a waste of time to manually input their address when it could be auto-filled using the company address that’s already in the database.
  • Intuitive
    • CRM systems that are easy to use stand a far better chance of being updated regularly and staying well maintained and current. If your CRM process is convoluted and difficult to maintain then it’s likely that your customer data won’t stay current simply because no one will take the time to update it.
  • Scalable
    • It’s impossible for your CRM data to stay current if you outgrow the system you’re using. Spreadsheets can only take you so far…

Work order management app lets techs work from any mobile device in the field and syncs all info back to the office

  • Integrated
  • If your CRM system integrates well with other software or processes that you use then it is infinitely more likely to stay in use and stay current.A clunky CRM system that is standing alone from your work order processes, accounting and other processes is just going to slow you down and you’ll likely abandon it eventually.
  • Detailed
    • To truly be current your CRM system needs to capture all relevant customer information. If you don’t have the capability to record info that is potentially vital to your operation then you’re not giving your customers the best service possible.
  • Customized
    • One surefire way to keep your CRM data updated and current is to use a system that allows you to custom tailor it to your needs, even as they change over time. Small customizations like the ability to change data field names, upload or create custom documents and control your views and reports go a long way towards keeping your CRM current and correct.

It’s important to integrate with accounting software

Customer Info Should Be Actionable

No matter how current your CRM data is, it’s useless if it’s not actionable…

Actionable refers to your ability to perform vital tasks using your CRM data, or in other words, you can act on the information you possess.

Actionable customer data…

  • shows you when a customer has an overdue balance.
  • summarizes open work orders and displays a history of closed work orders.
  • gives technicians info about customer equipment, site notes, notice of special certifications required by that customer and more
  • .gauges customer satisfaction

These are just some of the areas in which actionable CRM data is important. Creating actionable data is a result of combining all of the same characteristics of a CRM system that were important to keeping data current, as discussed above.

To create actionable data the following characteristics must all work together:

  • Mobile
    • Lots of good service businesses give their technicians paper copies of work orders, and that may work fine for some companies. However, there are certainly instances where a technician would benefit from having the entire CRM data for a customer at his fingertips in the field to provide better service.
  • Accessible
    • Keeping your CRM data actionable depends on which internal personnel can access which data. CRM captures a lot of information, so being able to extract only the valuable info for a given role at your company is important. For example, you may not want salespeople bombarded with work order history information. Likewise, you don’t want technicians to have to sift through sales notes while they’re in the field. Controlling what data is seen by which user groups is a vital way to keep data actionable.
  • Automation is one fantastic way to keep actionable data. Being able to transform a lead into a customer with the click of a button saves a lot of time. Similarly, automated, standard views can show you the info you need right away, so you can act on it more quickly.
  • Intuitive
    • If your data isn’t displayed in an intuitive way then it most definitely is not actionable. Sifting through unsorted customer records and sales notes without dates creates problems. Just having the data in your system is not enough. You also need a good repertoire of standard reports, views and fields that are meaningful to your service business.

Video showing CRM automation

  • Scalable
    • To be actionable, your data must be expansive enough to capture a lot of information but also drill down to give vital specifics on a customer relationship. If your CRM excels only on one end of the spectrum it won’t fit your needs in all situations. For example, you want to record a customer’s entire work order history. But you also want to be able to look back at a work order from 7 years ago, and see the comments your technician left while he was installing a piece of equipment for a specific customer. Good CRM software can do both.
  • Integrated
    • Here is where actionability can really shine. Your CRM software should sync with your accounting software and other systems flawlessly, with the click of a button. End of story. If your CRM software doesn’t play nicely with your other processes then you don’t have actionable data, since your actions will be devoted to getting those processes all synced and working together.
  • Detailed
    • To have customer data that you can act upon you need information like:
      • Customer status (champion, satisfied, at risk, etc)
      • Special treatment requirements
      • Certifications necessary for work orders for specific customers
    • Without this kind of detailed info your actions may be misdirected and inefficient.
  • Customized
  • Taking the previous point a step further, sometimes it’s necessary to customize your CRM information for specific customers to stay on top of your relations with them.

In Summary…

CRM processes are much more complex than simply recording a customer’s address and contact info. CRM info should be current and actionable to really be useful. To make that info current and actionable it’s necessary for the characteristics discussed above to all work in sync.

We hope our software fits your CRM needs since we’ve been designing software specifically for the service industry for over 25 years, but we’re quick to acknowledge when the fit isn’t right and we’d be glad to point you to one of our competitors who might suit your needs better. If you have any questions about CRM systems and how they relate to your specific business processes please feel free to give us a call at 360-293-3000.

This article is the second in a nine part series of white papers designed to inform you about the role that software plays in the field service industry. You’ll receive the next article in the series next week, but if you can’t wait until then we encourage you to check out the entire series using the links below. Thanks for reading!

The Team at High 5 Software

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