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How FM Technology Powers Client Success


February 01, 2023     6 minute read

It’s often said that many smaller actions together can make a big difference. When it comes to facilities management (FM), truer words were never spoken. Technology advances across FM are reshaping the role facilities can play in helping companies deliver better experiences for their customers.

This is especially true for an Integrated Facilities Management (IFM) solution, which is designed to leverage technology and other components to optimize operations, uncover cost savings, and improve performance throughout an organization’s sites. Jason Bishop, Vice President of Client Services at NEST, says it best, “With tech-enabled access to real-time data and analytics, FM teams can make more informed decisions that drive performance at the store level.”

In this article, we discuss some of the ways FM technology can boost process improvements across multi-site operations一resulting in lower costs and more and better opportunities to enhance sales and service.

Streamlining FM Workflows

As global business and technology media company Forbes points out, many FM processes are common across different businesses一and repetitive in nature一making them ideal for capturing efficiencies through digital transformation.

An end-to-end, cloud-based work order management system empowers users to create, delegate, complete, and prioritize work orders via easy-to-use online dashboards and automation. Routine inspections and repairs take less time and are more efficient with access to digital forms, barcodes, and asset history. Hand-offs, inventory updates, and other tasks are also completed in minutes rather than hours or days.

For example, when HVAC function is crucial to ensuring summer in-store foot traffic, getting that same-day repair could mean saving hours of downtime一if not days of store closures and lost revenue.

With a few taps and swipes, service providers can better diagnose problems, identify patterns, and make informed decisions while minimizing disruptions to store operations, schedules, and staff.

Adding Flexibility

Mobile technology is one of the most useful applications in multi-site FM today. When incorporated as part of a work order management system, everyone’s productivity goes up. On-the-go access to program data and communication capabilities enables users一from technicians to store employees, and others一to follow, implement, and manage tasks from anywhere, at any time.

Even from the sales floor employees can easily create work orders and upload photos and notes.

Communication among service providers and other team members一regardless of their locations一is easy and timely, and collaboration is a breeze. For example, if a provider is looking for insights from the team that previously worked on a particular electrical switchgear, they’re only a text or call away.

With mobile technology, providers can access or relay important information directly from the field一even on their way to their next job. This means tasks are completed more comprehensively and quickly, enabling stores and staff to return to normal sooner.

Facilitating Logistics

Enabling technicians to manage logistics via a purpose-built secure web portal can save hundreds of labor-hours each year.

For example, NEST’s ISPConnect一a part of its IFM solution一employs geo-fencing technology with location-based sensors that determine when the tech approaches the work site, which makes checking in from their device easy and secure. This means NEST doesn’t need to pull store staff off the sales floor with a phone call to confirm the technician has shown up.

Technicians can also use the portal to order parts or drop in a quote. They can even increase not-to-exceed (NTE) budget amounts right from the field. Typically this would have to be done via phone to facilities management. Downtime becomes unavoidable while the provider waits for a return call, potentially misses the return call, or if additional approvals are required. Time saved is money saved every time.

Expediting Service Verification

Service verification is an essential part of any multi-site FM program. This occurs when an FM management company calls a store manager or employee after a service provider visit to ensure the specified service has been completed to their satisfaction.

But what sounds like a simple exercise can become burdensome in no time. For example, a store employee may be too busy on the floor to take a call from the FM management company, which can delay the process. Or, the employee may not know whether the service was completed or that a service visit was occurring in the first place. And if there’s been a shift change at the store, the recent on-shift employee may not be able to speak to service verification at all.

With remote access to a work order management system, service verification is a snap. Once the work is completed, a location manager can verify service online. It’s fast and efficient and enables store employees to maximize their time with shoppers.

In addition, with service verification completed in real time, data is more accurate. If a store manager doesn’t get to it until later, service verification is likely to be less specific一understandably一as they try to recall details after the fact. Better data from stores helps improve FM service, which benefits all parties.

“Real-time updates on service satisfaction enable clients to calibrate their program KPIs with input from the field. This gives a more accurate view of operational performance and your customer’s shopping experience,” says Bishop.

Boosting Security

Third-party data breaches can cost companies millions of dollars. And according to a 2021 study by independent data security/IT infrastructure research center, the Ponemon Institute, 51 percent of respondents experienced a data breach caused by a third party.

Even megabrands such as Toyota, Marriott/Starwood, and American Airlines are among the thousands that have fallen victim to a third-party cyber attack. Common points of entry can include suppliers and contractors一even FM service providers.

Ensuring outsourcing partners incorporate robust security protocols grounded in next-gen technology can provide companies with higher confidence that their clients’ data remains safe一often a key factor in building customer trust and goodwill and avoiding costly fixes and reimbursement later.

NEST, for instance, is a Service Organization Controls, Type 2 (SOC2)-certified organization. This means the company meets the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) industry standard best practices for customer data management.

NEST manages its IFM client data within a single, secure cloud-based platform with state-of-the-art technology and safety protocols, including email and endpoint detection, PEN testing, Extended Detection & Response (XDR), and state-of-the-art firewalls.

Improving Back Office Efficiencies

A comprehensive, user-friendly work order management platform also helps simplify back office functions. Without this, for example, work photos uploaded from the field across all work orders are typically dumped into a single photo storage queue to be sorted later by hand.

When photos, notes, purchase orders, and other data can be attached directly to the work order from the field, diagnoses, repairs, and other processes are completed much faster and more accurately. Invoicing speed and precision improve, and work order closes outs happen sooner.

FM Technology Helps Drive Store Performance

Despite the challenges of e-commerce, coronavirus pandemic-induced shutdowns, inflation, budget cuts, and labor shortages, brick-and-mortar is here to stay. As brands continue to hunt for ways to differentiate themselves from competitors, the in-store browse or purchase as an experience in itself has come to the fore.

NEST understands facilities management is essential to supporting clients and their brand standards, given these and other conditions. That’s why it places industry-leading technology at the heart of its Integrated Facilities Management (IFM) solution. In fact, all of the services described here, and more, are provided free to IFM clients一without subscription fees of any kind.

When leveraged smartly, IFM technology drives efficiencies with immediate financial and on-the-ground impact. Combined with a team of experts, over 27,000 Independent Service Providers, and nearly 30 years of experience, NEST’s commitment to IFM technology makes it the FM partner that helps achieve program savings, deliver better customer service, and boost client growth.

Contact a NEST representative to learn more about our best-in-class Integrated Facilities Management solution and how leveraging FM technology can help improve your in-store experience today.

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