Boissoneault Electric Corporation (BEC) is a full-service electrical shop based in Massachusetts. With a growing staff of licensed electricians, BEC offers a wide range of services to both commercial and residential clients. They perform everything from routine light installation to solar panel maintenance and custom commercial projects.
As a second-generation electrical shop, one of BEC’s top priorities is to deliver good service to its clients as efficiently as possible. Field service providers can be notorious for giving clients huge windows of time that the worker might arrive and there’s often no way to know when the worker completed their work without physically checking. BEC knew they could provide an amazing experience that didn’t involve any of these common pain points using technology.
To achieve this goal, they strive to be a digital-first company for both customers and employees. Best-of-breed apps – like ServiceMax (Salesforce), RingCentral, and TSheets – play a central role in this mission; their specialized features allow the company to execute complex processes like job dispatching.
Faced with a growing app ecosystem, both the owner of BEC, Neal Boissonneault, and the Head of IT, Michael Coutu, knew that the company needed an agile way to orchestrate between those apps and create a truly digital experience for clients and workers alike.
Using Workato to automate their apps, they now can:
- Instantly notify customers via SMS when a service team is on their way or has completed their work
- Empower technicians to clock in and out quickly and accurately log their hours
- Invoice clients 66% more quickly
- Cut labor costs by 20% with no change in revenue or profits
Unifying a Complex App Ecosystem
The company initially realized the breadth of its integration challenge when evaluating whether to implement ServiceMax, a native Salesforce application that would function as the company’s CRM and service management hub. BEC was immediately concerned about how the program would fit within the company’s broader app ecosystem.
“Our philosophy is: in order to get fewer people to do more work, you have to give them better tools. So we try to pick the best application for each particular process,” says Michael Coutu, the Head of IT at BEC. “While we wanted to use Salesforce as a CRM, we also knew it would be just one piece of the puzzle. We needed to have other apps.”
Primarily, the BEC team was concerned about minimizing duplicate data entry between the new CRM and other apps. “We wanted to avoid repeat work,” Coutu continues. “When a customer books a job, for example, client, vendor, and supplier information needs to be shared between a number of different applications.”
“[When we asked ServiceMax how to solve this problem] their initial response was to write code within the Salesforce ecosystem,’” he recalls. “But we had concerns about the cost and long-term feasibility. The cost and time required to create and maintain custom code on a regular basis are so great; we knew there had to be a better solution.”
As the company evaluated potential ERP vendors, Workato was suggested to BEC as a solution to their growing integration challenge. “We identified the need for integration and automation very early in the process,” Coutu says. “Workato came with a direct recommendation, and after some brief research, we verified that it is an excellent product.”
Ultimately, BEC’s decision to use ServiceMax/Salesforce went hand-in-hand with the decision to use Workato. “We made those decisions together,” he says. “In fact, Workato was live in some cases before our CRM was. When I came onboard, Workato was more advanced in the roll out than ServiceMax and Salesforce.”
Automating Client Communications with RingCentral, SMS, and Email
Because so much of BEC’s business is conducted on various job sites, it’s crucial that the company communicate effectively with customers. The foundation of their communications system is RingCentral, a Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) platform that facilitates phone calls, video conferences, and SMS. To make communication as smooth as possible, Coutu created a host of Workato recipes that connect RingCentral with other core apps, such as ServiceMax.
Instantly Notifying Clients of Scheduled Services
Communication begins the moment a client hires the company for a job; automation plays a key role in making sure the requested service, which is initially logged in ServiceMax, is confirmed quickly via email.
“Let’s say a client hires us to install a ceiling fan at their house,” says Coutu. “After we set up the job in ServiceMax, Workato sends them an email confirmation via Office 360.” This automation makes sure that BEC and its customers get off to a good start and stay on the same page.
Sending SMS Updates with RingCentral and ServiceMax
It’s also important for the company to communicate with clients about when work teams will arrive on the day of service. Many service organizations simply provide the client with an approximate window of time, but BEC wanted to enhance the customer experience by letting them know when a service team was on its way.
To do this, they use Workato to send an automated text via Glip, an SMS app that runs on the RingCentral platform. “On the day of service, we clock in using our time and attendance software, TSheets,” Coutu explains. “Via Workato, TSheets notifies ServiceMax that we’ve started working on the job. This triggers a Workato recipe that sends out an SMS message via Glip, saying that we’re on our way.”
BEC also automated a text message to the customer at the end of a job. This SMS functionality is especially helpful to larger commercial clients, such as real estate management companies, who may never see the service team face-to-face. “We can be on site for a few hours without the client actually seeing us,” he continues. “So we’ll actually send another message via Glip at the end of the job to let them know that we arrived, that we completed the necessary work, and that we’ve left. From a project management standpoint, they know how long we were on site. We can also send some basic reports via SMS as well.”
“We’re actually saving time and money because of these messages,” he comments.
Enabling Two-Way SMS Between Clients and Service Teams
Currently, Coutu is working on an automated workflow that will direct SMS responses to the correct service team.
“Sometimes, a client will text us back to say: ‘I’m running late’ or ‘When you arrive, just go around back,’” he says. “Right now, Workato forwards the texts to a dispatcher who then has to call the team. I’m trying to make it a two-way conversation, so the response text goes directly to the correct service team. With Workato, we can do so much more with RingCentral and SMS; I know we’re just scratching the surface of what we can do.”
Using RingCentral Integration to Sync ServiceMax Contacts
Coutu also plans to use Workato to create a RingCentral integration that makes it easier for service teams to reach clients.
“Most of our employees in the field don’t have phones. They use the RingCentral app on iPads with cell service,” he elaborates. “But in order to contact customers, they need their phone number, which is stored in ServiceMax.” Without an automation to get contact information synced from ServiceMax to RingCentral, employees have to open ServiceMax, look up the customer, write down the phone number, and navigate back to RingCentral to dial the phone number. This is tedious for the employee and increases the likelihood of error.
To solve this problem, Coutu is designing a Workato recipe that will sync ServiceMax contacts with RingCentral as soon as they are associated with an active work order.
“This will give our techs the ability to make phone calls in the field without going into ServiceMax, writing the phone number down on a piece of paper, opening up the RingCentral app, and then dialing the number,” he explains. “They can just search their client’s name right inside of RingCentral and the contact will come up.”
Coutu estimates this integration will save techs lots of frustration, as well as 30-45 seconds for every single phone call—time that adds up quickly given their heavy workloads.
Intelligently Associating Media Files with Work Orders
Another project Coutu has in the pipeline is to use Workato to allow for multimedia files like photos via RingCentral.
“RingCentral’s Glip allows attachments. So we want to eventually use Glip to enhance project management: techs could take pictures on site, send them in via Glip, and then Workato would grab those images and automatically put them on the correct work orders in ServiceMax,” he says.
Streamlining the Employee Timecard Experience with TSheets
Workato has also proved invaluable to BEC when it comes to automating back-office processes like time tracking and payroll.
To track employees’ work, BEC uses TSheets, which is a time and attendance software. Every job that the company schedules is identified by a unique code in TSheets, and employees use these codes to clock in and out of jobs. As the company took on more work, however, the number of codes grew to be unmanageable.
“Workers would get to the job code field in TSheets and have to scroll through thousands of job codes in order to clock in and out of the right job,” Coutu notes. “Then they would still have to complete some manual steps at the end of that.”
Workers would go through this tedious process several times a day, for every single job on their schedules. “It would take an employee five minutes just to scroll through the job list,” he recalls. “So we wanted to narrow the list down to just the roughly 35 jobs a worker might have on their schedule on any given week.”
Using Workato, the company was able to correlate each TSheets job code with the correct work order in ServiceMax and apply logic to sort them based on their status.
“We can account for whether a job has been assigned to somebody, for example, or whether it’s been invoiced,” Coutu explains. “Not only can we remove old codes based on their completed status in ServiceMax, but we can also make sure that employees see only the codes that they need based on their weekly schedule. So now we have fewer codes overall—about 200—but each employee only sees the 30 that they need.”
Coutu credits this integration with saving BEC’s workers a lot of time and decreasing the chance that an employee will clock into the wrong job. “It saves program managers 10-15 minutes every day on time and attendance,” he estimates.
Integrating TSheets with ServiceMax, BambooHR, QuickBooks, and Project Management Software
Workato has also improved other business processes because information from TSheets can now be pushed directly into other apps. “We’ve integrated TSheets with ServiceMax, BambooHR, QuickBooks, and project management software,” he says. “We used to have a lot of payroll paperwork, for example, but now we can just push TSheets data into both ServiceMax and BambooHR using Workato.”
The workflows allow the company to assess and estimate costs more accurately—which directly affects payroll and overall efficiency. “We’re able to do better job costing because we know how long a person is working on an individual job, whereas before it was just so cumbersome,” Coutu continues.
Giving Employees a Cohesive Schedule View from ServiceMax
Coutu is also working to integrate TSheet’s new scheduling tool with employee schedules in ServiceMax. He says the integration will further enhance the employee experience by making information available from one place. “It will give people the ability to see information in ServiceMax that they otherwise wouldn’t have,” he explains.
Automating Invoicing for 66% Faster Billing
A huge aspect of BEC’s back office is billing and invoicing. Prior to Workato, these were mostly done manually. “All the paperwork was done by hand,” Coutu remarks, “It wasn’t necessarily a bad system, but at the end of the day, it was all done on paper.”
That, he explains, made the entire process very slow. “When I first started at BEC, the invoice process took several weeks, even for small service jobs” he recalls. “Techs would complete the job, get back to the office, fill out their timesheets and bill of materials, and put those papers in a folder. Then a mid-level manager would grab it, compile it, put the information into QuickBooks, and send out an invoice. It was not unusual for the entire process to take weeks.”
To solve this problem, Coutu created an automated workflow that connects ServiceMax and QuickBooks. He also has a Workato integration between TSheets and ServiceMax to put timesheet information in ServiceMax (mentioned in the previous section). Now, when a job is marked as completed in ServiceMax, Workato will automatically create an invoice in QuickBooks using data from management input, employee interactions, and the time and attendance software.
Not only does this workflow eliminate a lot of manual data entry, but it also means the company’s cash flow is more reliable. “QuickBooks doesn’t have a native integration with Salesforce, so it used to take us three to four weeks to bill a customer,” he says. “With Workato, we now go from the initial call to billing within a few days. That translates into revenue coming in faster.”
Empowering Agile Integrations At Scale
One of the biggest benefits of Workato, Coutu says, is that it enables a smaller IT team to better serve the business. “As the head of IT, I am the CRM admin. I am the database administrator. I also spend 10-15% of my time in the field on a weekly basis as well. So I’m not a full-time IT person, but I am the full-time IT department,” he says.
“As an IT person, you need tools to make your life easier; you have limited resources. Whether it’s something simple like QuickBooks or something complicated like Salesforce, the only way you can leverage your apps properly is to use a platform like Workato. With Workato, I can create integrations that I can’t custom code—either because I lack the skill or the resources. Workato allows me to make the user experience better for our employees and our customers.”
He also credits Workato with giving him peace of mind as the company scales and adopts new apps. “We know if we have two applications that don’t talk well to each other, I can just stick Workato in the middle and make them communicate more easily,” he comments.
Additionally, Workato saves BEC a lot of time and money by eliminating duplicate work. “By bridging these gaps between our apps, Workato saves a lot of time and money,” Coutu comments. “The only way to avoid errors and not repeat work is to use a tool like Workato.”
Decreasing Labor Costs by 20%—With No Change in Profits
Most impressive, however, was how automation and integration have affected the company’s profitability. Coutu estimates that in 2017, profits remained stable despite a 20% reduction in labor.
“I would estimate that we make all of our employees 10-15% more efficient, based on the software that we have in place,” he comments.
Ultimately, Coutu sees Workato as a key part of BEC’s mission to run a truly digital-first organization—for customers and employees. “As the Head of IT, I’m using software, technology, and infrastructure to make other people’s lives easier,” he says. “If employees or customers need me to solve a problem that is very complex or that I don’t have the resources to solve, Workato helps me simplify the process and resolve them faster.”