By Sarah Howland, Editor In Chief, Field Technologies magazine
I read an interesting article recently about the debate concerning whether or not to leverage social media and networking for business purposes (you can find the article at http://bit. ly/21nnuY). On one hand, a bulletproof argument can be made that you want your mobile workers spending their time at work working — not tweeting or messaging friends on Facebook. There’s no debating that point, and there are certainly measures you can take to make sure that’s not happening. That said, there are a couple of ways in which taking advantage of social media could be extremely beneficial to your business.
The first is externally — leveraging social media to engage with your customers. Many service organizations follow up a customer visit with some sort of survey to gauge how they’re doing, often via a follow-up phone call or by asking someone to fill out a form online. While there’s nothing wrong with these methods, you can’t deny the force that is social media — so why not use it to your advantage? Millions of people are already engaging with Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis, so utilizing these vehicles to gather feedback for your organization makes it easier — and therefore more likely — for them to participate. In addition to gathering feedback, social media can also be beneficial for a variety of marketing activities, such as building brand awareness, communicating special offers, and obtaining leads.
Field Tech Collaboration Improves Efficiency
The second way in which social networking can benefit your company is internally — providing your workers a way to collaborate with one another. Think about this — you have a new field tech arrive onsite for a job, and he runs into an issue he hasn’t seen yet. Rather than this worker calling another tech to join him onsite or making a second trip to that customer site, what if he could chat online in real-time with a more experienced coworker to determine what to do? This collaboration is more unobtrusive to the other tech’s day than a phone call, and much more cost effective than sending two techs to one site or one tech onsite twice. Social networking is a great way to enable your mobile workers to communicate with one another and share knowledge. This type of functionality is now being worked into field service software solutions, such as that of ServiceMax’ Chatter (http://bit.ly/qvoXGQ), which enables the entire organization to communicate securely in real-time. The bottom line is this — social media is here to stay. So, if you haven’t thought yet about how you could be using it within your organization, now is the time to start.