Author: Külli Rebane, business manager at BCS Itera
How does the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central platform help you gain a competitive advantage? The magazine Äri-IT Kevad 2021 featured our SOL Baltics customer story. Therefore, it is appropriate to talk more about the challenges of a services company and how good software can help to overcome them.
To buy or develop in-house? Evermore companies have decided to focus on their main activities and outsource the services that support the core business. The role of companies providing various services is therefore becoming increasingly important. In order to remain competitive in the growing service market, a services company needs to be efficient and fast without compromising on quality. People, their skills and knowledge, as well as technology and automation, both in the form of tools specific to the field and software solutions, certainly play a significant role in providing a good service.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT IN SOFTWARE FOR A COMPANY THAT PROVIDES SUPPORT SERVICES?
Well-looked-after customers – the cornerstone of every business
As in many other fields, knowing the customer is key. Even the most capable sales person cannot store all the details about possible new clients and future sites and projects in their mind or even in a notebook (and no one wants to do that either). It is better to delegate this work to software, from the storage of customer information to the management of sales opportunities, offers and sales budgets, plus the sales process with its stages and tasks between the initial contact or sales plan and the conclusion of the contract. It must be possible to find information on customers, projects, and sites quickly and the planned activities must be clear, understandable, and easy to follow for the sales team.
Proactive contract management with flexible pricing
If an agreement is concluded with a customer (as a rule, for a certain period, for certain services or equipment, and at contractual prices), the software gives the account manager time for maintaining the customer relationship. The manager does not need to periodically check whether the contract is about to expire (or, even worse, find out that it has already expired from the customer). The account manager will receive a notification in a timely manner and in the format they prefer either as a letter, message, or report that the contract period is about to expire, enabling them to conclude agreements for the following period.
Flexible and real-time site management
After the contracts are signed, there is no time to rest on your laurels – in the eyes of the customer, this is when the real work begins. The service at a site must be fast and of high quality with as few unexpected events as possible. How to ensure this? It is certainly important that the person doing the work has an accurate overview of what was agreed on. The team must know what work will be performed on which days and at which sites and what materials should be ordered well in advance or picked up from the warehouse. If the materials are not in the warehouse, the software can recommend to order them in a timely manner based on the planned work.
Information about the work order has to be sent quickly to the person performing the work, which is fortunately very convenient thanks to modern mobile technology. One cannot be sure that the work order that is printed out in the evening is still valid the next morning. Taking the example of cleaning services, it would be extremely inconvenient if coffee spilled on an office floor is not cleaned because information about it will be included in the work order of the following day. In order to serve customers faster, it is beneficial to keep an eye on the tasks and customer communication on your smartphone on an ongoing basis.
The same goes for sending information to the office on the amount of time and materials that were spent on a certain task. Avoiding duplicating tasks is more important than speed: information is created on the site, it is reflected electronically immediately, and is then forwarded to software solutions for the purposes of summaries, analysis, and payroll – the data is only entered once.
Fast and correct regular e-invoicing
After the task is complete, the next (regular) step is the billing process, which must work seamlessly and with minimal user intervention, while taking into account the large number of customers and the special features added to their contracted services. Fewer mistakes on an invoice received on time definitely evokes more trust in the service provider. The expectation of receiving an electronic invoice is probably so common that it doesn’t even need to be mentioned.
No task performs itself – this is done by motivated employees
Technology is undoubtedly exciting and important, and more and more tasks in the service sector are taken over by various machines/devices/robots. But not even these work on their own. People are and will always be needed, so it is essential to retain them and keep them motivated.
One of the special features of the field dealing with site management (be it cleaning, waste collection, security services, etc.) is high staff turnover, which naturally causes issues for the HR department and which probably cannot be avoided, but can be reduced. Proper tools provide the opportunity to actually focus on the employees – their recruitment, training, and development – instead of managing data. Payroll, vacation, and absence management, putting together the work schedule and communication with the state can all be handled by software.
And last but not least – management reporting for decision making. Previously, we talked about the correct and thorough recording of information. However, data entry is not a value in itself. Rather, the analysis of the collected detailed data and making correct and timely decisions are what give you the competitive advantage. Nowadays, the manager’s desktop is no longer the privilege of a select few, but a tool easily available to all companies.