Life on the road for field staff used to consist of a car and a mobile phone, but there are now numerous ways that businesses can better support these workers through technology. Here we look at 5 ways companies are leveraging tech to improve engagement, efficiency and effectiveness, and in turn creating better results for their business:
1. Tech for effective pitches
Field staff need to be able to prepare and present professional, convincing pitches that will persuade the customer to buy a particular product or service. Companies like Bionic, the SME marketplace for switching essential services, have invested in technology that can make this easier for their salespeople. Their team can now use their iPads to see which customers are higher priority and it will plan a route for them, meaning they are spending their time most effectively.
And when they’re in the room with a potential customer they have access to the most up-to-date customer information, so at a click of a button they can show them what they’re currently paying followed by an estimate of their potential savings.
Armed with this information, which is live and visible to both field staff and customer, the salesperson can talk through the options available and answer any questions the client might have. This allows them to create a highly personalised pitch, which is both relevant and compelling.
2. Tech for customer service
We’ve all been in a position where we’ve dealt with a salesperson and then get transferred to someone else and have to repeat all the same information all over again. It’s frustrating! For service that really delivers what the customer needs, the information stream between the field team, the team in the office and the database that holds all of the details, must be seamless.
Imagine a company is testing the security of a client’s office, for example. Can the team doing the testing automatically update the client’s record, so that an automated email is sent to the customer with the results? Could it include an invitation schedule their next test?
There are multiple benefits of this joined-up approach. Not only will it provide better service for clients, but it will also reduce the amount of manual input required by all staff, freeing up people to do the more valuable parts of their role.
3. Tech for predictability
Field staff generate a lot of data, whether that is geo-tracking, sales data or customer feedback, but their remoteness from the office can mean that such data may not always be harnessed, and potential learnings can be lost to the business.
By using data analytics to look for trends, companies can benefit in a number of key areas. For example, analytics might help to highlight where problems are emerging – such as highlighting under-resourced areas or recognising where a lack of training might be impacting business – or help to identify potential opportunities, such as customers looking for a related product.
But the opportunities don’t end there. Companies can also use predictive analytics to assess which customers or staff they might be at risk of losing, so they can put preventative measures in place to keep hold of them.
4. Tech for protection
Technology that enables better selling and customer service is obviously great for the company’s bottom line. However, technology for supporting field staff shouldn’t just focus on profits; it can also be used to support them personally by offering them protection while out on the road. This is especially key for field staff who frequently work on their own.
In 2019, ECI invested in Peoplesafe, the world’s leading provider of lone worker protection. Companies use its technology to give more protection to field staff deemed to be at an increased risk, for example if they’re going into other people’s properties alone. Whether it is by using Peoplesafe’s mobile apps or personal alarms, by allowing users to request help at the touch of a button, the company ensures that field staff can feel safe whilst out and about in their role.
5. Tech for engagement
Field staff have always been at risk of feeling disconnected from the businesses, but if there’s one thing that the pandemic taught us, it is the importance of engagement for remote workers and effective communication for all staff – wherever they are located.
As a result, the last 18 months or so have seen companies investing heavily in internal tools to bring everyone together. Examples include intranets that act as central hubs for your daily apps, such as Content+Cloud’s platform, Fresh, which gives teams their own space for collaboration, content share and knowledge capture, helping companies to leverage their Office 365 environment for an effective modern digital workplace, or pure communication tools such as Facebook’s ‘Workplace’ which provides a channel to connect your entire company remotely. Companies have also got better at leveraging videos to communicate from Board Level down, as well as channels such as Teams or Slack to make quick conversations remotely as easy as possible.
Even if the future for some companies will be full-time back in the office, the hope is that they leverage the learnings gained from the pandemic, and continue to adopt these solutions to keep remote workers engaged and supported – and improve staff retention as a result.