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Survey Reveals Outdated Technology Big Hurdle for Field Service Companies

By Mansi AnejaFebruary 15, 2020
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For field service businesses, getting the right technician to the right job at the right time is central to success. Get it wrong, and an otherwise successful day can quickly degrade into a stressful scramble to salvage relationships with unhappy customers.  Yet a surprising percentage of field service businesses continue to depend on outdated practices like white boards, Google Docs and phone tag to manage their schedules, dispatching and field communication.

Those were the findings of a survey recently conducted by Verizon Connect in collaboration with Bobit Business Media, publisher of leading fleet and field-service industry publications including Work Truck and Automotive Fleet. This study surveyed more than 1,200 U.S. fleet managers, executives and other mobile-business professionals on the trends and unique challenges impacting their operations.

Twenty eight percent of respondents to this survey currently have a field service fleet. More than half of those (51%) currently use field service management software, and an even greater percentage (52%) have field service management software integrated with their fleet tracking solution. According to the survey respondents, “quickly rerouting technicians” and “keeping everyone updated about the schedule” are the biggest daily operational challenges.

In this article, we’ll take a deep-dive into the data we collected, provide a snapshot of field-service challenges, and point out the technology and trends that can help you streamline fleet management, scheduling and dispatching.

The disconnect

Field service companies struggle with the daily challenge of assigning jobs, managing customer expectations of transparency and keeping track of their technicians. The degree of automation i.e., use of technology, can directly impact all these business-critical operational challenges.

It’s worrying then, that many field service organizations are behind the curve when it comes to technology adoption. Here’s what the survey revealed:

  • When asked how jobs are currently scheduled:
    • 26% use dedicated field service software or apps
    • The rest use other, less automated alternatives:
      • 25% use a spreadsheet managed by an officer manager, dispatcher or other employee

An astounding 25% use a white board or other manual method. Despite quality of communication being the most important aspect of business, the survey reported that not all organizations have embraced a field service technology.

What are the other concerns of field service companies? What are the major factors that impact their decision to adopt a tracking solution? And most importantly, how does GPS tracking positively impact field service businesses? As the new decade kicks in, find out the key trends in this space to help you build a foolproof field service business.  

High-impact factors for field service businesses

Jobs, technicians, dispatch and customers – the success of a field service business revolves around the coordination of these four components. Fifty percent of the respondents rated "quickly re-routing the technicians" as the most critical issue for their business. This was closely followed by "keeping everyone updated about the schedule" at 48% and “keeping customers informed of technician ETA" at 45%.

Here are the factors that the survey respondents said are critical to the success of their field service businesses. 

Read the full 2020 report to learn more about how your peers view and value GPS fleet tracking.

With technology making inroads into all aspects of life, customers have increased demands in terms of transparency and near real-time updates. With that in view, running a successful field service business hinges on not just the quality of the task at hand, but the pace of communication as well. Fifty six percent of the respondents agreed strongly that "meeting customer demands" was the biggest challenge for their business. This was followed by "reduced profit margins" at 48% and "quality and number of technicians" at the third spot with 47% agreeing strongly.

Take a look at the factors that field service companies found the most challenging for their business: 

More than half of the surveyed respondents with a field service fleet have not implemented a field service management software. Fifty seven percent of the those not having a field service software said that traditional systems, like spreadsheets and white boards, work for them.

An integrated solution is the answer

Businesses need to constantly keep an eye out for the increasingly competitive nature of the market and the need for maximizing resources. A single solution, therefore, is a must for supervisors to be able to manage jobs, technicians and customers. Sixty Seven percent of respondents said that a single solution was “very” or "extremely" appealing when choosing vehicle tracking and field service management software.

Here’s a ranking of the features of a field service management solution, based on what the customers found most useful: 

The ability to instantly capture customer information in near real time and automatically share that information with all drivers, managers and back-office employees can help organizations reduce manual paperwork. Since enterprise fleets have more vehicles, workers and customers, it stands to reason they see this benefit most favorably. 40% rated it "extremely" appealing, versus 34% of medium fleets and 27% of small fleets.

The flexibility to share calendars and quickly update schedules helps organizations of all sizes respond easily to emergency appointments, last-minute cancellations and filling schedule holes to increase profits. Enterprise fleets see the most promise in these features.

With the businesses becoming more competitive and customer expectations skyrocketing, it's only a matter of time before field service businesses realize the opportunity hidden in technology. Going by the trends in the overall GPS fleet tracking, this technology is here to stay. Customers are looking for sophisticated features and more transparency; providing a unique opportunity for those looking to make a niche in the market by meeting those customer needs.


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Mansi Aneja

As Verizon Connect Content Strategist, Mansi's mission is to create content that helps on-the-go business owners and fleet managers realize the benefits of digital transformation to drive their business forward, keep their teams productive and safe, and provide outstanding customer service. Have a story about digital transformation in your business or a tip that could help other fleet managers? Email Mansi at - [email protected]


Tags: Dispatching & Scheduling, Routing