Colourful hardhats on a wooden bench

How Rugged Technology is Transforming Field Work – And Why You Should Join the Revolution

There are 1.2m field services businesses in the UK, employing in total 6.7m people. Comprising maintenance companies, drainage contractors, ductwork cleaners, construction businesses and many more sectors, they are rightly described as the backbone of the economy.

While turnovers are growing significantly, Verizon research shows that 48% of field services businesses cite reduced profit margins as their biggest concern.

There are two big factors influencing this concerning trend:

  1. Inefficiency. Businesses cite lack of managerial oversight, poor planning and workflows, and outdated tech as significant barriers to working efficiently.
  2. Rising costs. Doing business is expensive and the ability to compete on price is getting narrower. The new battleground is customer service. And those that offer great customer experience are forging ahead. Others are falling by the wayside.

Why mobile technology is the key to survival – and success

More and more businesses understand that technology can tackle inefficiencies and help them level up their customer service. 73% of field services businesses increased investment in technology in the last 12 months and tech spending shot up by an average of 54% year on year.

Two field workers using mobile technology to assess wind turbines
About 75% of field service businesses that utilize mobility tools have observed increased employee productivity, while the rest have seen customer satisfaction rates rise. (ISE, 2020)

According to rugged technology provider Zebra, 60% of survey participants in their The Future of Field Operations Vision Study agreed that their field work operations strategies are ‘mobile-first’.

It’s pretty obvious where the world of field services is heading. And, for businesses that wish to remain relevant – and, let’s be frank, survive – there are very, very good reasons for this mobile technology uptake.

How mobile technology is revolutionising field work

Mobile technology offers the following benefits, many of which relate directly to those issues around efficiency and customer service we cited earlier.

Fast access to data in the field – to improve efficiencies and boost service levels

From customer service history, product information and warranties to related products and services, all the data your people need to complete a job efficiently will be at their fingertips. Of course, accurate data capture (see below) means this information can be available to customers too, playing an essential part in your customer service approach to deliver clear and accurate information – fast.

Colleague tracking and allocation – to speed up service delivery and ensure a timely response

Mobile devices can track a technician’s exact location – and provide information on skill level – to help efficiently deploy colleagues. This can reduce journey times, fuel and vehicle costs, leading to savings and efficiencies. It can also keep customers happy because the right engineer, arriving at the right time, is working on their job.

White vans moving around a map
Shorter journeys mean lower fuel costs, lower vehicle maintenance costs, and less time spent travelling, more time spent servicing customers.

Accurate data capture – to improve back-end processes and reduce customer disputes

A mobile device can accurately capture information about parts used in a job, time on a job and many other criteria, which can then be fed back into central systems. This can help to ensure stock management is optimised, billing is accurate, and efficiencies are increased overall. Data ensures disputes are kept to a minimum too. A transparent, accurate process ensures all work can be logged instantly, reducing confusion or disagreements with customers.

Cross-selling and upselling opportunities – to increase profits and provide further customer satisfaction

This might not be the first thing on your mind when you think tech efficiencies and optimising service. However, when your people in the field can use a mobile device to get easy access to information about complementary parts or products, they can find instant and highly relevant solutions. This enhances customer service and boosts your bottom line.

Why should I choose rugged technology over consumer-model phones?

Rugged technology refers to devices such as mobiles and tablets with the durability to deliver in challenging business environments.

Essentially, you’ll be getting a phone that has passed rigorous shock, ingress protection (IP) and other tests to ensure it will withstand what your work environment can throw at it. If it’s any good, it will also offer you the processing power (speed), bright screen, connectivity options and add-ons (from barcode readers to vehicle mounts) you just won’t find in consumer models. Got hot-swap batteries in your consumer model, so you can keep working as you switch over from one battery to another? No, we didn’t think so.

While your initial outlay might be a little higher compared to consumer models, in the longer run the total cost of ownership will be lower.

Which rugged technology provider should I choose for field operations?

We rate Zebra rugged devices as the obvious choice for almost any business. Not only do they offer specs that outperform almost every other option on the market, but they also offer a huge range of backward and forward compatible accessories and, crucially, care packages far superior to any other provider. These phones will do more, last longer and provide a superb return on investment.

Nuffield Technologies collaborates with field work businesses every day, helping them choose the right rugged technology, accessories and support plans for their people. We work closely with Zebra Technologies and can ensure you get great deals from the leading provider of rugged tech. Get in touch today to talk to a member of our team.

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