FieldMotion: the book of the system

I’ve been tasked with writing a book about this field service management system thing that we built. Most of the books I’ve written have been code-related and general in nature. Writing a specific “how to” of a single system will be a bit more challenging. Especially as the system we have is really so large that condensing it all into one book will probably make the book wither much too long to read, or much too dense to read.

So, I think the best thing to do is to write a general overview of the various parts within the system, and how to use them from a basic point of view. I will intentionally avoid detailing the use of the more complex parts of the workflow management software, and will return to those either in later chapters, or in follow-up books.

Why write a book?

I’m a big fan of written tutorials. I would much rather read instructions on paper than watch a video. Printed instructions and explanations can get a lot more in-depth than videos. Also, it’s easier to highlight lines in a book, or refer back to earlier pages.

Videos tend to have accents as well. Even within the single English language, there is enough disparity in accents that it can be hard for a person in the US to understand someone with a Scottish accent (for example). Written text does not have accents.

It’s also easier to translate a book than a video. With a book, it’s a simple matter of having the text translated by a technical writer. With video, though, the entire thing must be re-done.

I will be publishing the book in this blog as I write it.

When I wrote my other technical books, I stuck to a general prescribed format – about 13-14 chapters per book, each book should be 15-20 pages long, and all concepts should be presented with visual diagrams if possible. I’ll do the same here.

Proposed chapter list:

  1. Introduction to FieldMotion
  2. General Usage
  3. Customers
  4. Jobs
  5. Assets
  6. Stock
  7. Using OnCompletes to setup WorkFlow
  8. Financial Reports
  9. Dynamic Scheduling
  10. Recurring Jobs
  11. Outsourcing Jobs
  12. Linking to Xero
  13. Using FieldMotion with Zapier

After completion, we hope to give out electronic copies of the book for free to people that ask us for a demo of our job scheduling software, and will give a free printed copy to all new customers.

FieldMotion as a customer relationship management system

This week, we were concentrating on adding new tools to the CRM (customer relationship management) part of our system.

We recently added that when a customer is changed from one “type” of customer to another, an email could be sent out to that customer. You get to define the email of course – we wouldn’t just send a random email out!

This is useful in cases where all customers need to receive a “welcome pack” email, for example, which includes links to video tutorials, etc.

We got that working well a short while ago. This week, we’re making sure that the history of sent emails is recorded next to each customer, so you can say for definite “this email was sent to you on 2017-xxx at xx AM”.

The fact that FieldMotion can be used as a CRM is something we don’t usually advertise, because it’s mainly designed to simply be the best field service software. However, since we actually use it internally for our own sales, and have experience with other CRMs pre-FieldMotion, we know that it’s up there with the best of the rest.

One of our sales guys was chatting with a potential client recently who had been tasked with procuring a field services tool for the company – the company had already looked into getting a bespoke application built and had balked at the massive number involved (hundreds of thousands). During the course of the chat, our salesperson mentioned that we use FieldMotion internally for pretty much everything we do, even customer relationships, and he suddenly perked up “oh? that’s another off my todo list!”

All field service management software companies should take into account that all companies need to manage their customers. It’s not like they magically appear and stay around – you need to have a method of setting reminders (callbacks) for yourself to keep in touch with them – you need to have a list of notes and files in one handy place where you can read or update them at a moment’s notice. Service job management software needs to record what you did for the customer before, what they said, anything related to them.

If you’d like to learn more about the CRM part of our paperless office software solutions, please ask for a demo.

workflow in customer relationship management software

This week is mostly about adding workflow to our customer relationship management software.

The “customer journey” describes how a customer changes from being a lead, through its various possible other labels. There is no real end-point to the journey – a signed customer might become a re-sign, etc, a canceled customer might eventually become a lead again.

In our system, you can define what customer types are possible “next steps” in the journey, ensuring that your managers don’t accidentally update a lead immediately to a re-sign, for example. Of course, each of these labels is completely customisable by yourself, so you can name them whatever you want, add as many as you want, etc.

When you set up a customer type, it is set by default that any customer with that type can be changed to any other afterwards. But, you can reset this so that customer with that type can only be moved onwards to set other ones. For example, a customer with “Signed” status should not movable to “Qualified” or “Lead”.

Another thing we’ve added is that when a customer is moved onto a specific customer type, a templated email can be automatically sent out to them. For example, if you have just signed someone up to your product, you might want to automatically send out a welcome email with a list of instructional documents and videos. Combining this week’s work with the email template work described last week, you can choose what emails should be sent, and design those up however you want.

In a way, this is like the workflow that happens in field service management software – when a customer reaches a point where you need to change how to label them, there are usually a restricted set of ways forward (which types they can be changed to), and a number of associated messages that need to be sent out.

Customer Relationship Management

At its heart, all companies need to manage customer relations.

For the smallest of companies, this can be as simple as meeting a customer in the shops and waving hello, or calling up someone you haven’t spoken to in a while to tell them of someone that might need their services (and to remind them you exist and hint that they give you more work).

For larger companies, the customers necessarily become more remote – you may deal with so many customers that you are not able to remember the names of most of them and you need customer relationship management software to keep on top of things.

As the company grows, it becomes important to manage your customer relations – to make sure that your sales and public relation teams are always reaching out to make sure everything is going well, to get feedback on any pain points that might have arisen, and to point out new features in your product that they may not yet be aware of. In short, you need to remind them that you exist, just like with smaller companies.

To help with this, FieldMotion has customer relationship management built right into the core. We use it ourselves to manage all of our own customers, and are constantly working to improve this.

Your sales team can use the Customers section of our core (which we call the CRM, by the way!) to set reminders of who to call, write notes about your customers and any phone calls, upload files related to the customers, create jobs related to those customers, etc. Think of it as sales rep management software.

We find the “callback” feature to be particularly useful when building up a pipeline of work or sales.

Smaller companies are usually unaware of the potential of building up a “pipeline” of work so I should explain.

When you call up a potential lead for the first time, they are probably unaware of you and just want to get off the phone. This is natural. You might have been given their number by someone that knows the CEO, or maybe an employee of the company passed on the details, or maybe it’s even just a cold-call. Either way, the first phone call is usually a dud.

For inexperienced sales people, this is the end of the line. They got rejected, they give up on that number and go onto the next.

However, if you ask “Can I call back in two weeks? Give you a chance to look us up?” (example – your wording will vary), then they are likely to say “Yes”. You then set a callback for yourself for two weeks from today, and a note about the call.

Two weeks later, you call them back and are able to say “Hi, we were talking two weeks ago, on the 17th, and I was wondering if we could go a bit further today”. You’ve established a small link with the company and are now able to talk a little about what you do.

The process is slow, but each phone call brings you closer to a sale. Every company and product is different, so it’s hard to put a figure on it, but if you read what sales people say online about it, you find numbers such as ten phone calls to get a face-to-face meeting, and ten more calls to get a sale.

If you are constant about it, you find that eventually your callbacks work out and you are getting a constant stream of sales.

It’s important that even if the pipeline looks like it is full of deals that will close soon, you are consistently adding new potentials to it.

Imagine the scenario: let’s say you have 20 jobs to do in the coming month and you think you’ll be so busy making money that you can’t make any phone calls. Does this make you happy? Well, it shouldn’t. Because you have been unable to make any phone calls, the month afterwards will not have as many jobs to do. Your pipeline will have stalled, and it will take another few months to get it back up and running.

You need to be constantly working on all three parts of the deal – qualifying leads to convert them to potential sales, then working on potentials to bring them to the sale, and finally making the sale and doing to work.

Even after a sale, you’re not finished.

You now need to set callbacks to follow up on the work and make sure the customer is happy. Call a month later. Call six months after that. Whichever schedule makes sense to you.

Not only does this keep the customer happy that you are on top of their business and making sure everything is well, but it also keeps your company on the tip of their tongue. If they are asked for tips on who to go to for similar work, they will mention you – especially if you do good work and are constantly checking in with them.

All of the above is easy to do through FieldMotion, and it doesn’t matter what industry you are in.

While our core business is field service management, the CRM part of our system is powerful and flexible enough to cater to all businesses.

Give us a call about our CRM, and we’ll talk you through how we work.