By Tom Paquin
This is part of an ongoing series of articles about the current State of Service going into 2022, along with the contributing elements that have and will continue to impact the industry in the years ahead. Read this to get caught up:
- The State of Service
- The Post-COVID Service Technology Stack
- The State of Field Service Management Software
- The State of Connected Assets
- The State of the Service Workforce
More than anyone else, small businesses have seen a tectonic shift since the start of COVID. Businesses of all stripes have been driven to technology to keep their doors open during lockdowns, completely refocusing the way that commerce and service function. Just the other day, Slate ran an article on the wellspring of “invisible customers” in food service, as the trickle-down of ecommerce technologies seep into the crevices of even mom-and-pop shops. Even my very favorite greasy spoon, a cash-only hole in the wall called Steve’s Kitchen in a grungy, collegiate neighborhood of Boston has launched a website. No one is safe.
This digital acceleration has of course impacted service businesses as well, though along a slightly different vector. For what it’s worth, I’ve been talking about the importance of small business investment in service software since before it was cool, but it’s certainly not 2018 any more, and the expectations of what small businesses need has shifted. So here are some considerations for adopting an all-new service platform, whether you’re replacing a wall calendar or a homegrown frankensystem.
Scaling Down the Big Boys
While the enterprise service software companies certainly can scale up (some better than others), their ability to scale down is more complex and nuanced, believe it or not. And it might not be as simple as stripping away features—under many circumstances, the whole architecture might be the wrong fit, or features that you want might be optimized for different use cases, and therefore will not meet your needs.
Forward-thinking vendors have calibrated for this, by offering more tailored solutions, sometimes swapping out products wholesale in order to meet the specific needs of your business. The goal of every best-of-breed service firm should be to have a solution to every problem that you might encounter, and to be able to conform to the shape, size, and specifics of your use case. So let’s take a look at what you might need to find success:
The Tools for Success
We’ll break this down by capability. A full-featured small business service platform will be prepared to tackle the following:
- Scheduling, planning, and routing
- Appointment management
- Mobile access
- Billing and payment modules
- Reporting and analytics
- Marketing and business development
There are some additional features that might be industry-specific, and whether there are add-on modules or specific solutions for those businesses will depend on the industries themselves. All of this raises a broader question, though, about where your new service software sits relative to other software platforms.
Using Service as Your System of Record
The truth of the matter is that for small businesses, especially those transitioning from bespoke, low-tech processes, a good service management platform might be like and express elevator into technical literacy. And for those businesses, it can certainly function as such. If you want your service platform to manage resource planning functions like procurement, parts management, human capital management, customer relationship management, and so on, you can find a system that includes that as well. With the right tools, small businesses can approach service with a degree of ease-of-use and efficiency that offers value to customers, drives more business, and offers the tools and power to grow.