Guest Column | August 27, 2021

As Field Service Management Transitions to Digital, It's Important That Payments Aren't Left Behind

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Imagine: you are standing outside the airport terminal with your bags in hand as you wait for your scheduled Uber. You can see that your driver will arrive shortly thanks to the app’s integrated live GPS tracking system. When they pull up, you load your bags and depart for your destination. Before you can get out of the car, your driver turns to you and asks, “Would you like to pay by check, cash, or card?” This doesn’t make sense. Why use an on-demand ride-hailing service when you still must pay your driver manually? This is your current field service management system if you’re not fully automating payments.

More than a decade ago, only 35% of bills were paid online. Flash forward to 2021. Now online and credit card transactions are the dominant way to pay. With a pool of resources at your fingertips, you can use software to make appointments, order groceries, or instantly send money to your kid’s babysitter -- all things that were almost unimaginable at the turn of the century.

The ability to pay online is the expectation for consumers today. As you shift the organization and management of your field service company to a fully digital system, be careful not to neglect contactless payment as part of the transition.

Why Go Fully Digital?

The process of collecting payments manually can be inefficient. Printing invoices, relying on technicians to collect payments, and by hand processing by your back-office staff are all aspects of your business that could be automated. Beyond an added level of convenience for your customers, implementing a labor-saving payment system can have a significant impact on your bottom line.

According to Honeywell, the soonest your business can expect to be paid is four days after service is completed. On average, it takes 10.2 days for a business to process an invoice and 30% of businesses take more than three weeks to do so. In that time, your technicians have likely been paid, you may have restocked your inventory, and you are on to a new set of business requests. Mobile payments eliminate this lag time.

An automated system plays a substantial role in keeping your technicians and back-office employees on the same page. Because you can create an invoice directly from a quotation, invoices are likely to be more accurate. You can ensure that small services performed aren’t overlooked when billing. A payment-equipped field service management system also reduces the likelihood of double invoicing. Further, with integrations like Quickbooks, your invoices are migrated to your accounting system with ease.

Finally, integrated payments save time for your technicians. Consider that each of your technicians spends 1-2 hours at headquarters, daily, processing invoices. You could save up to 10 hours a week, per technician by automating invoices, which leaves room in their schedule to take on an additional job.

What is Seamless Integration?

Seamless integration means that each step of your service process is facilitated by one management platform. It means ease of use for your customers, reliability, strengthened brand loyalty, and increased employee satisfaction.

As a consumer, there is nothing worse than blocking out a 5-hour window for the cable technician only for them to never show up. It is frustrating for customers and administrators alike. With a comprehensive management system, your customers can book online from a calendar of preset schedules, receive automated alerts when a technician has been dispatched to their home, track technicians in real-time using the integrated GPS feature, and pay directly from their smartphone.

On the back end, you as a supervisor can manage schedules and time-off requests, chat with your technicians throughout the day, send invoices with the touch of a button, and optimize your business strategy with detailed analytics reporting. An automated system brings each piece of your company together into one transparent, organized workspace.

Why Payments Are Getting Left Behind

So, why are many service providers resistant to leaping and going digital from scheduling to payments? There are a few reasons. First, many service businesses are generational. The systems in place now have worked for decades, and many small business owners fall victim to the adage “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” A brief period of discomfort and some costs upfront could lead to significantly greater returns year-over-year.

Business owners are also concerned that the field service management software will take a significant cut of each mobile transaction. As you research what solution is right for your business, look for one that doesn’t add an additional fee beyond what Stripe and Square are already charging.

If you are a business owner frustrated by your legacy processes and struggling to scale out of the pandemic, consider the ways that a fully automated field service management solution could work for your organization.