Forms and certificates and paperwork (even of the digital variety) play a prominent role in an engineer’s day.
Whether they’re filling in forms, answering questions, or collecting signatures, it’s important the process doesn’t take up more time than is necessary.
So, how can you keep it all under control?
You know that if a customer has a product in their home or place of work that needs fixing, they’ll want it sorted with as little fuss as possible.
After all, no one wants their time wasted. That means no irrelevant questions being asked, and as little time spent signing forms as possible.
Of course, whilst your job management software already makes it far easier to collect the basic data you need from customers, you’re probably well aware that there’s room to improve, especially if you’re taking on new, larger types of work, which can bring new challenges.
Besides, not every job is the same, and as you grow, the needs of job can get more specialised. This means it makes less sense to have a generic “one-form-fits-all” approach.
Fortunately, that’s where customisation comes in, not only as a way to improve how your engineers do their admin, but to take the way you create, share, and use the professional forms and certificates you need, to entirely new heights as well!
There are many shapes and sizes that administrative tasks can take. While it’s one thing to get started on a job by asking basic (but no-less-important) questions of your engineers and customers—i.e. confirming arrival times, collecting signatures, or confirming their general safety—the standard questions that your system asks in the pre- and post-job forms is probably not relevant for every type of job.
The number of forms and certificates that your team are having to deal with—going beyond what’s legally required of electrical, oil, fire & security, gas specialists—are numerous, to say the least.
While the admin process may have gotten a little easier (and neater—they don’t look like that clipboard anymore!), the sheer number of forms your team have to complete can mean there’s still a lot to do…
While the industry standard forms and certificates exist for good reason, your business will have a need for others that are more likely to be unique to your processes. This means you’re probably spending money on having custom forms made for you. But this can be expensive, time-consuming, and results can vary.
On the other hand, if you try to make them yourself, they may not look as professional as you’d like and take even more time to create. Every admin is familiar with the pain of getting everything to go where it’s supposed to in a Word document. This only gets exponentially more expensive and frustrating as your requirements change, and it can mean you need to keep paying to make edits time and time again.
In addition, by customising forms yourself, you can benefit from collecting insightful, accurate data about your customers more efficiently, and without infringing on GDPR either.
2. Improving the pre- and post-job experience
As mentioned, depending on the job type, you’ll likely have industry-specific forms that you’re required to fill in, as well as questions you want to ask for your own needs.
It’s a great way to demonstrate accountability and compliance to your own high standard and provide a consistent experience time and time again. In turn, this can inspire confidence in your customers and help you build trust with your own staff too.
These extra questions can be great for simple checks, or for more complex queries at the start or the end of a job. With customisable software, whatever needs you can think of, you can create a form to cover it.
For example, we’ve seen successful field service companies employing a pre-job form that was mandatory for every engineer to complete on arrival, asking questions like:
Are you wearing protective shoes?
Do you have your name tag on?
At the same time, the post-job form asked:
Did you leave a clean workspace behind?
Did you give the customer a list of best practices to maintain their new appliance?
Asking these questions can make a difference in the quality of the service provided. While you’d expect and hope engineers are taking these steps anyway, giving a little nudge never hurts and makes for a better customer experience, every time.
It can be understandably frustrating if they have to collect answers to unnecessary questions or, even worse, ignore them by inputting data into your system that’s useless. This only helps to clog up your system and waste time later down the line when someone has to tidy it up again.
Instead, by designing forms yourself and having a system that responds to specific situations, it means you can create user-friendly experiences that keep the focus on the data you need and that which is important to get the job done.
• Create, customise, compile:
As far as customising forms yourself goes, it takes some effort but with the right software at your back, it will be worth it. The right tools needn’t be complex, but give you user-friendly options that let you create and develop any number of forms as you see fit. This way, you can ensure that your field service business meets the needs of any situation and delivers a professional, efficient service, every time.
Consider the following example:
If the job descriptions are set up correctly in your system, then they’ll be asked a set of questions that are specific to that job type (e.g. for installation jobs, one prompt could ask “Have you mentioned to the customer about our yearly maintenance plan?”)
Next, say they go to a gas repair job. Your system recognises this so it provides a different set of questions specific to the ones they had before. This time, they’re asked: “Did you talk with the customer about the risks of a DIY gas safety?”
For each job type, and many more, the engineer is only ever gathering information that’s relevant to the jobs they’re actually doing, and with specific questions in mind, you can collect data that’s relevant and actionable.
To go with another example, let’s say you were to send out two engineers in a pair; there’s no point having each one fill in the same standard form or, worse, ask the customer to sign and approve the same information on each of their mobile devices.
That’s not the engineers, it’s simply the way your system is set up. However, with custom forms, your software can recognise the two engineers in attendance and have them each collect different sets of data!
This means that one can collect info from the customer, while the other confirms details about the work-environment safety check they’re required to fill in. In this way, both sets of information are saved to your system, but without duplicating or wasting anyone’s time. In fact you’re probably collecting more data, faster—and importantly, making better use of billable hours.
Software that allows you this deep level of customisation can help you personalise and diversify your services, whether your customers are commercial, private, or a mix of both. High-level customisation makes it possible to service everyone in an increasingly efficient way, without ever losing that personal touch because their data is easy for your staff to access.
Behind the scenes, when it comes to creating forms using your management software, the editor should give tons of options and let you add the fields you need, then configure them accordingly. Standard elements include, but are not limited to: date, time, checkbox queries, text box comments, signature boxes, photo options, and dropdown choices.
Additionally, dynamic versions of these fields can give engineers the flexibility to give non-standard answers, if need be (like selecting “other” from a list of options, then noting down what “other” is on the form. Having reactive options gives your team more control and lets engineers work not only faster, but more accurately too.
4. Go a step further with automatic certificate creation
Filling in a mobile form and having the information sync to your database is one thing (and an awesome one at that) but if you’re collecting the information needed to complete a gas safety certificate, for example, you’ll find yourself having to do more manual work and fill it in later.
So, to elevate your efficiency, a dose of automation can pack a real punch thanks to intelligent workflows that take over. With the inclusion of smart templates, your job management software can auto-fill and generate PDFs (with all the relevant job information collected live on-site), without the engineer having to lift a finger.
This means they can then download, print, or otherwise share relevant files with the customer in an incredibly efficient way.
Imagine filling in a series of relevant questions on a form, that your system then transfers to a ready-and-waiting document that, thanks to an automated workflow, is sent to a customer as soon as the job’s completed, all whilst the engineer is still on site and using the tool in the palm of their hand!
This way, thanks to your software, you can create an experience that’s professional, organised, and efficient (and even physically looks great) without all the time spent doing manual work only to achieve the same result.
Personalising your field service business can be tricky but with the customisation options within job management software growing not only more powerful but (mercifully) also more user-friendly, your service business can really reap the rewards.
With the right set-up, you can take the necessary steps to ensure that quality communication not only gets you the information you need, accurately, for every job. Furthermore, this way, the information you’re using internally and sharing with customers is as accurate and professional-looking as it can be!
If all this sounds good to you, then we’ve got one final thing to share:
To get to grips with custom forms and certificates and get started with creating compelling content for your business, take a look at our free guide (and templates within) available below! You can also learn about forms with Commusoft in our video, here.
I'm eager to tell compelling stories and share great advice that helps field service businesses to build on their success.