Communication issues can wreak havoc on any business, but miscommunication hurts field service-based businesses specifically.
If you can’t get ahold of your technicians in the field, how will you know what’s going on?
And if you don’t know what’s going on, how can you provide the best possible service to your customers?
Without a proper system in place, you’ll make communication mishaps a routine thing for your business.
Your customers will get tired of patiently waiting for a technician to show up and you’ll start to lose revenue.
Your team will get tired of feeling out of the loop, employee morale will start to tank, and then you’ll begin losing your best technicians too.
Instead of getting to this point, set yourself up for success by putting a better system in place. Luckily, we’ll show you just how to do that in 4 easy steps today.
Start with one or tackle all 4 and you’ll be on your way to improving communication with your field techs ASAP.
To get started, you need to set up your plan of action. That’s the perfect place to begin.
Step #1: Set Up a Communication Protocol
Before you can improve your communication with your field technicians, you must set the standard first.
That means creating a communication protocol that all your techs will follow.
This document should outline your new communication guidelines and let your techs know what’s expected, such as when a tech should check-in or out and what kind of status updates are important.
If a job is going well and running right on-time, a status update may not be required until the job is actually complete.
On the flipside, if a particular job is taking double or even triple the time it should, your techs should check in before that time has passed.
All of this should be included in your communication protocol doc so your entire team is on the same page.
If you don’t already have a system like this in place, consider this your first step.
From there, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to communicate with your field techs. We’ll show you the best way to do that next.
Step #2: Use Text Messages to Communicate
How are you currently communicating with your technicians when they’re out in the field?
Through phone calls?
While calling your technicians may be your first go-to method of communication, it’s not exactly your best.
What happens when your tech is knee-deep in a dirty job and they can’t get to your call?
And when they do finally clean up and call you back, what happens if you miss the call?
Both you and your tech will get stuck in a frustrating game of phone tag and your message will not get delivered as planned.
A similar situation happens with emails.
If your technicians have poor service at a job site, they’ll never be able to see your urgent updates and important messages.
That’s why text messages should be your preferred method of communication with your field technicians.
Texts don’t require internet access so your message will still get delivered despite a poor internet connection.
Text messages are also extremely fast.
Think about the last time you sent a text. How fast did it get there? Usually it’s within a few seconds.
Plus, it’s no big deal if your techs are covered in muck; your text will be sitting there ready and waiting when they have a chance to clean up and read your message.
Before you start blasting texts to your techs using your own personal text messaging plan, it’s essential that you understand the difference between your existing plan and partnering with an SMS sending service specifically.
An SMS Sending Service Ensures That Your Messages Are (Quickly) Delivered
Your normal text messaging plan isn’t set up to handle the bandwidth needed to support a business. These plans are designed to send once off texts to your friends and family here and there.
If you try to use this for your business, you’re going to get stuck in an endless loading cycle where your messages may not even go through.
But, when you use an SMS sending service like this one, you won’t have to deal with this headache.
Instead, you can take comfort in knowing your messages will always be delivered to your contacts within a matter of minutes (or a few seconds in most cases).
Send mass text messages to your crew to communicate team-wide issues everyone should be aware of without worrying if everyone got the memo.
Because of the added bandwidth, your messages will be sent quickly and delivered no matter how large your team.
While this switch may seem small, it’s one that’s going to make a huge difference in your communication efforts.
Another way you can improve communication with your field techs is to have a general idea of where they are at all times.
Step #3: Be Aware of Where Your Techs Are at All Times
No, we’re not suggesting that you Big Brother your techs or micromanage them.
Instead, you should have a general idea of where they’ll be throughout the day so you can communicate this info to other members of your team and to your customers.
If one tech is an hour or two behind on their current job, you can let the next customer know ahead of time and before they’ve lost a few hours of their day.
And if the current job is too far behind, you can send a text to another technician in the area who may be able to jump in sooner.
This not only helps you improve communication internally, it also improves your overall customer service too.
But, to get to this point, you need to have an understanding of how long a typical job should take your techs.
Keep in mind, typical is a loose term here since jobs are not identical and they vary from simple to anything but.
So once you have a better idea of how long a specific job should take, you can then add check-in requirements to your communication protocol. We’ll touch more on this next.
Step #4: Make Sure Your Techs Give Status Updates
On top of normal check-in and out procedures, you should also have a system in place for status updates.
This should answer the question: When should a technician update you on the status of a project?
While it’s great to have your techs check in and out of jobs, there’s a long stretch in between that can make a huge difference between what transpires next.
To eliminate any issues, establish a few ground rules for when a tech should update you or your team.
Is it within 30 minutes of arriving at a job?
Or at the point they know their project will go over schedule?
Your window of time may be different, but a good rule of thumb is to have your techs check in after they’ve assessed the situation, or within 20-30 minutes of arriving at a job.
What happens when you’re dealing with a larger-than-expected project?
Another update should be sent out mid-way through a troublesome job to let home base know the progress. Is your tech running into further issues or are they stuck at a bottleneck?
This two-way communication ensures there are no surprises. It also helps you better manage your business.
If a tech is stuck at a job, you can send another one to tackle the next appointment before it’s missed.
You should also ask your techs to send a debrief/check-out text too.
This text should inform you of any issues or loose ends that may require follow up.
By sending texts like these, you’ll have a record of what happened and what needs to be done during the next visit.
But that can only happen if you explicitly outline this expectation in your communication protocol document. And that’s why following through on step 1 is so important.
Once you tackle these 4 steps, you’ll start to see improvements in your communication almost overnight.
Use an SMS Sending Service to Improve Communication with Your Field Techs Today
In order to improve your communication, you need to make a few slight adjustments.
First, do you have a communication protocol in place?
If not, this is your first step to complete today.
Next, you need to make sure you’re set up with an SMS sending service instead of using your personal phone plan to send all your texts.
Your messages will get delivered in a timely manner and you won’t face any slow-loading bandwidth issues, which can both severely (and negatively) impact your communication efforts.
From there, make it a habit to check-in with your team using status update texts so everyone is on the same page with what’s going on.
Your team should also send you a debrief text to make sure loose ends are tied up and new jobs are scheduled instead of potential revenue falling through the cracks.
If you and your team can repeat this system enough, you’ll never face a communication mishap with your technicians ever again.
To get started with an SMS sending service, please visit this page.