There are lot of off-the-shelf facility audit and survey tools. Turn-key promises and per-seat pricing make them attractive. But a year later, many of those tools aren’t used. Or teams have created work-arounds that add complexity and leave you shaking your head.
The vision of streamlining field team activities and providing information to inform strategic decision making is unrealized. Instead you’re trying to decide if it’s worth renewing the subscriptions or strong-arming people into using the solution. Neither option seems all that great.
From manufacturing to construction to food service, we’ve seen five features that determine whether a tool is used or abandoned.
Empowering field teams with audit tools improves data and customer service, and creates opportunities for sales.
With voice to text transcription and image capture, these tools make it easy for technicians to conduct the visits. Integrating with ERP or CRM makes customer service history, error and issue reports, and visit notes visible to the entire team.
Voice recognition technology has come a long way since Teddy Ruxpin and the World of Wonders Julie Doll. For a chemicals and manufacturing client, we integrated Siri into their facility audit tool to enable their technicians to record notes as they walked through the building. With little loss and few errors, that audio was converted to text in real-time.
The information about those site visits was more accurate and more comprehensive, and the inspectors were done with their notes when they left the facility, instead of trying read handwritten scribbles later in the hotel room. Or trying to remember a part number and what the production manager said about the third shift run problems.
Make the image capture easy to find and use. Field teams should be able to quickly access the camera to take photos of line set ups, materials settings, and equipment. In a widely adopted solution, those photos are associated with the right notes and the right records so that the extended team can make sense of issues from the notes and images, and service customers faster and better. Time stamped and tagged, those assets also become searchable to identify issue trends and inform product development.
By understanding how sales, technicians, and customer service look for information, you can define a smart search approach for your company. A combination of drop downs, saved searches, primary keywords, AI-driven suggestions provides your distributed team with the tools that make finding and doing seamless. An adopted and loved solution allows users to find what they need as quickly as possible with as little thinking as possible.
The key is conducting a few interviews with users to define how they search and in what order. For example, they may want geo-location to know where they are to auto-load the right customer information. Or to be able to look at data based on the top purchasers of a product. Canned solutions often fall down here, providing the same search structure for everyone, leading to low adoption and inconsistent use because “the tool just doesn’t work right for us.”
There are always exceptions. For a food service client, it was the number of variations in the way that they set up their coffee and beverage stations, and the number of those stations at an enterprise client. For a manufacturing client, it had to do with the combinations of equipment at a facility.
Including a mechanism (that is not simply “Notes”) to capture complexity and variation will create raving fans in your technical and customer service teams. This might come in the form of a wildcard template or the ability to add forms that can be added to the ERP/CRM integration. It could be configurable calculators or look-ups. Talking with your teams will quickly reveal what those customizations want to be.
With integration to the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, audit information is accessible across teams and available for strategy decision making.
What if you could see that most customers are having the same line configuration issue, or that many are under-using a key chemical? Salespeople are able to see trends and plan up-sell and cross-sell more effectively. Customer service teams can proactively reach out to customers to prevent problems instead of solving them. Marketing can develop personalized messaging for prospects that motivates them to buy.
Talking to users is the beginning of determining what is needed, what will get used, and what will impact the organization. It’s not as simple as “if you build it, they will come,” but taking care of the biggest obstacles and providing features that make their jobs easier goes a long way toward building momentum. Having a solution that is adopted and loved is possible.