The idea of sharing photos, videos, and texts is more mainstream than ever. We upload nearly 100 million photos to Instagram a day and send about 16 million texts a minute. We use WhatsApp, Zoom, Facetime, Facebook Messenger, and a variety of other apps for convenience. Photo sharing, video chats, and texting have permeated nearly every element of our personal lives, and now it’s starting to creep into our work lives. Using photo and video for work is now the norm - almost expected. This opens up a huge vulnerability, not only for customer data reasons but also for every individual’s right to privacy from their employer.
With the explosion of consumer tech coming into the working world, there are a few key trends that make it very clear: field workers need to use tools built for their job, not the platforms you use to call your grandmother or make dinner plans with a friend.
Customers are more aware of sharing personal information
If companies want customers to trust them with private information, they have to demonstrate that they are keeping the information safe and private - that simply can’t happen when the conversations happen on third party apps you have no control over. Our data shows that 25% of jobs in field service require two trips to solve. This isn’t because the problem is complex, but because the field worker was not provided with the right information before the first visit, resulting in huge costs for the company because they haven’t built up trust with customers.
Third party apps cause privacy nightmares
When a field worker uses an app on their personal devices, there’s often an automatic cloud backup of the data shared. Even if there isn’t, the data lives on an employee’s personal device, causing both a privacy violation for customers and a potential union issue for employees. This isn’t necessarily a call to ban personal devices in field work, but instead to use web-based, secure chat and video technology so no data is stored on the device. This is the premise we followed when we built ICwhatUC, so no matter what device a field worker uses, there’s no local data storage or cloud backup.
Privacy violations are more costly than ever
Fines are regularly reaching into the millions of dollars for privacy violations. However, this isn’t due to malice - field workers are already struggling with spending 40 percent of their days on the road, according to our research and are using whatever tools they have to help customers. That’s why the need for purpose-built field worker technology is so critical. Field workers want to help customers and want to bring in new business, they just need the tools to do it that won’t lead to massive fines.
With consumer apps, employee turnover means lost customers
Turnover in field service is fairly high, which is a problem to tackle by itself. However, the downstream results are even more damaging. If field service workers were using personal apps like WhatsApp to communicate with customers, that data is lost to the company when the field worker moves onto a new job. That means not only the costs of rehiring but also the cost of re-acquiring that customer, which can be as much as 5-25x more expensive than retaining a customer.
The value of a branded experience
The final issue with field workers using third party apps is simple: your customers want to know they are interacting with your brand. Letting your company’s reputation rest on public opinion of WhatsApp or Facetime is a huge risk. One bad experience can ripple outward as customers talk about their experiences online, share reviews, and discourage their friends from working with you. While you may not feel these effects in the nearterm, it’s a big cliff that you never want to get close to.