We do everything from our phones today — taking photos, checking email, surfing the Internet. Smartphones are creating exciting opportunities in just about every industry out there, including field service. However, Field Service News’ “Field Service Management Software Study 2014” found that half of field service companies are still using manual systems. In today’s tech-savvy world, field service providers should be asking themselves whether mobile technology can help them be more efficient, offer better customer service, and improve their bottom line. The answer to these questions is “yes.”

Here are six ways mobile apps can improve your business:

1. Real-time visibility makes business more efficient.Mobile apps from companies such as Telogis, ServiceMax, FieldAware and Locqus provide real-time visibility into workers’ whereabouts. They enable vehicle tracking and regular job progress updates so businesses can stay on top of their fleet. This means employers can create and assign jobs remotely, and quickly check on their workers’ status.

The same applies for customers. Giving them the ability to check on the status of a job eliminates the need for three-hour to five-hour wait windows. Customers take their time back, which leads to a better experience all around.  

2. Direct communication enhances customer service.When a customer has to wait for hours, with no clue whether the plumber or heating technician will actually show up, it creates a negative experience. And a negative experience makes it more likely the customer will try another provider next time. She may even warn her friends against using your service. This is one of the greatest customer success issues that field service businesses face.

Mobile devices present an easy solution to this problem. They make it easier for businesses to communicate in real-time with their customers, keeping them in-the-know about a job’s progress, worker schedules, pricing, payments, etc. An informed customer is a happy customer — and one who is likely to stick around.

3. Mobile solutions cut down on wasted time.In today’s digital world, relying on manual systems to manage your day-to-day operations isn’t just inefficient, it is a competitive disadvantage. Old-school paper methods are slower and increase the likelihood that information will be lost. They also make it more difficult to find information you are looking for, and require more work from your technicians, who have to physically fill out forms and drop them off with the office staff.

Mobile apps enable on-the-go scheduling, so you can get the right tech to the right job at the right time and cut down on wasted trips. They also enable immediate invoicing, which decreases the chance that bills will get delayed or lost.

4. Apps help technicians look up necessary information.An article by ServiceMax CEO Dave Yarnold at VentureBeat.com notes mobile apps can make your techs more efficient in the field because it gives them instant access to information they need to do their jobs. Information such as what the visit is really about, if the equipment is under warranty or if the customer has had the problem before.

Furthermore, techs can access product manuals if they need them, and collaborate with other technicians or their managers when they have a question. Arriving armed with this knowledge not only helps jobs get done faster, but improves customer service as well.

5. Transparency reveals insights that are necessary for your business.One of the major benefits of digitizing operations is the wealth of data you gain as a result. Mobile tracking of your workforce means you are collecting information about the workers, customers, jobs, etc., and this information yields valuable insights. For the first time, your business will be able to conclusively see which of your employees are performing above expectations, and spot bottlenecks or inventory shortages in advance. Then you can make smarter, data-driven decisions that help you save time and money.

6. Companies experience an increase in revenue when using technology-driven solutions.All these benefits will ultimately lead to more revenue. Mobile apps can help you identify areas where you might be losing money and help make your workforce more efficient. They improve customer service, which leads to improved satisfaction and retention, as well as more customers. A recent customer survey from ServiceMax found that “technological empowerment” increased field service revenue by an average of 14%. That’s a lot of money.

Another piece of information from the Field Service News survey: Many field service providers are reluctant to adopt new technology because they are concerned with the cost of implementation. However, the reality is that going digital is inevitable; it is just an issue of when.

Soon, mobile field management solutions won’t be an advantage, they will be a necessity. And the sooner a business gets on board with mobile, the greater its edge over the competition will be.

Do you have any mobile apps that have improved yourbusiness?