The housing crisis is one of the longest lasting effects of the economic recession, with home foreclosures continuing to stain our economy. As more homes enter and remain in foreclosure, the servicer (whether on its own or on behalf of the investor) is responsible for maintaining these properties per local and state regulations. And mobile apps have added a new tool servicers can use in the field.
Regardless of who handles the upkeep of the foreclosed property, field services companies have become in-demand specialists, hired to ensure the foreclosed property remains in livable conditions. As foreclosed properties continue to spring up in neighborhoods around the U.S., field services companies are struggling to meet the demands of their clients while delivering timely and adequate service.
Servicers, who ask for property services and vendors, who perform the fieldwork, are the two key business partners for field services companies. With the field services company becoming the distributor and aggregator of property-related services, it can look at embracing role based mobile applications to supplement its web channel in order to optimize their own processes and meet client expectations while reducing their operating costs to boost their bottom lines.
The Power of Mobile Applications
In the last few years, every business and industry has embraced mobile solutions. From shopping to banking, and everywhere in between, mobile applications are a channel for business. The benefits of mobile applications—speed, accessibility, convenience—all located on a smartphone that is most likely already being used, makes it perfect for use in the field services industry as well.
Mobile applications demonstrate how business can leverage the power of wireless communications and “anywhere and anytime” computing. Field services businesses can achieve huge gains in productivity and business performance by utilizing mobile apps.
For example, vendors can submit results from the field and get decisions on bids on the spot, limiting the lag time from clients and reducing the need to make multiple site visits—thus reducing costs and allowing vendors to handle greater volumes within the same time and cost ranges. The field services applications, accessible via web and phone channels, would be able to offer comprehensive capabilities across key business functions—service request, work completion, result submission and review, tracking, invoice and delivery.
Mobile solutions also give vendors a photo management platform, result and bid submission capabilities, and the ability to receive new orders. It will allow vendors to snap photos of before and after conditions of the properties to substantiate their work and upload them from the site itself, they can inspect property and report observations to the client and complete orders on the day of the field visit itself.
While in the field, the vendor can submit bids in real time and gain approval/disapproval from clients, thus significantly reducing the potential of rebidding for the same work. Additionally, vendors can check applications in real time to find out when new orders are allocated to them.
But the benefits of mobile apps aren’t limited to the vendor and the field services company.
Users benefit through features such as order submission, bid review and order tracking. They are able to submit work orders from anywhere, review submitted bids with an immediate turn around, and check the status of orders.
Accessing the field services application “on the go” enables timely and accurate information processing for users that was never before possible and provides a differentiated customer experience. Faster bid resolution reduces processing time and removes any process redundancy of dealing with rebids from vendors.
Enabling vendors and clients with mobile apps is not without challenges. Skeptics point to bandwidth concerns and the potential for fraud as deterrents for using these solutions.
However, these issues can be easily dealt with by using a quality cell service provider and by using a web-based channel as well as a mobile one. The power, accessibility, speed and versatility of mobile apps, perfectly complement and extend the functional requirements of field services.
They can reduce turnaround time and costs, improve productivity and provide transparency as well as accountability. When properly deployed, mobile apps provide users across the field services value chain a suite of comprehensive features that streamline and expedite key business processes.
High unemployment levels and ongoing economic stagnation leads us to believe that the foreclosure rate is not expected to decline anytime soon. While this provides field services companies with more than enough business and a steady revenue stream, smart companies need to take this opportunity to leverage mobile technologies to optimize their business processes. Doing so will help improve bottom lines and deliver a better and more differentiated customer experience—building servicer and investor trust now will inspire strong loyalty in the future.
Ashish Shreni, the practice lead for consumer lending at Cognizant Business Consulting, has over 12 years of experience in banking and financial services with a focus on the consumer finance space. He can be reached at email@example.com.