How to Run Your Field Service Business from an iPhone

An iPhone 's innovative features empower field service companies to run their businesses paper-free

“Hey Siri, repair the HVAC unit.”

OK, ok – Siri won’t be able to do that. However, with the processing power of your iPhone, what used to require rooms full of computing equipment is now available to you 24/7, right in your pocket. Limitless access to information, advanced GPS capabilities, high definition photographs, and instantaneous data transfer can now be provided to your field technician team, all for the price of a cellular plan.

But is it possible to be completely mobile? Can you run an efficient, customer-centric service business on an iPhone? We put it to the test, to see if a tiny Apple device can power an entire field team with just an iOS app.

  1. Create a Work Order
  2. Priority number one: getting out to customers when they need services. For this experiment, let’s assume the customer has a way to contact the technician (phone, email, web portal, etc.). From there, the rest can be done on mobile: add a new Work Order, get directions to the customer, and access contact information to let them know the estimated arrival time. Now, you’re ready to get to work.

  3. Create/View Schedules
  4. Gone are the days where employees must come in to see their schedules. These days, many companies use service scheduling software to go paper-free. The semi-automatic and manual scheduling apps require more oversight from HR, while automated versions require no human interaction. With Cloud based schedulers, employees can see their schedules on their iPhone whenever, wherever. HR professionals in charge of scheduling can use the app to work from home if needed.

  5. Punch In / Punch Out
  6. This is an easy one. You need to track technician time against a work order, and you want to so as accurately as possible. With a Punch Clock feature, it’s just one push of a button. BONUS: you can add multiple punch clocks to track different types of labor if needed (billable vs. non-billable, straight time vs. overtime).

  7. Driving Directions
  8. Mobile workers who visit customer sites all day need directions. The GPS mapping feature optimizes driving routes for timely arrival and can even re-route for emergencies. Imagine a customer cancels his or her appointment at the last minute. The app would quickly alert the employee, and he or she would use the GPS to find the fastest route to the next customer.

  9. Add Equipment
  10. Here is where it gets a bit tricky. What to do in those situations where you arrive to a customer site, and you have no record of the equipment they’ve asked you to fix? If you’re using a mobile service app that lets you add equipment from the field, no problem. Simply add an asset to the customer site, and track your work against the new piece of equipment. Even better, with the GPS capabilities of an iPhone, you can tag your exact coordinates to the new equipment for future service visits.

  11. Track Used Parts
  12. Billing your customers for parts used for services is a key revenue generator. With mobile access to your service truck inventory, you can add parts to a work order and charge for anything that has been consumed. This functionality can also track inventory usage and restock levels, but that would require a back office or warehouse component (this isn’t truly mobile, so we’ll table that feature for now).

  13. Service History
  14. The ability to see previous service visits is another key function in customer service. With the click of a button, field techs can see previous work orders, down to the individual line item and piece of equipment, right on their iPhone. This helps them make informed decisions on parts and repairs, while keeping the customer comfortable due to their deep knowledge of the issues, past and present.

  15. Invoice
  16. This brings us to perhaps the most crucial mobile component: invoicing (and, getting paid) quickly. Because you’re able to tally the service line items on-the-go, and collect the customer’s signature right on the device, technicians can instantly send a copy of the work order via email. Admittedly, invoicing is most often an accounting function completed from the Back Office or ERP system, so this is a feature where a strong mobile integration could be a non-starter.

    Conclusion

    As we walk through a simple day-in-the-life of a service technician, it seems entirely possible to power your entire service organization with just an iPhone and a service app. Though it may not be realistic (or recommended) due to some key missing functions (invoicing, service contracts, scheduling, etc.), this goes to show the incredible power available at your tech’s fingertips, and how it enables them to do a lot for customers.

    Want to learn more about cross-platform or cloud-based iPhone mobile app for your service business?

    Learn important tips, guiding questions, and to-dos in our free, educational guide to purchasing a mobile field service solution.

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