New Technology Prompts Faster Payment, Spurs New Business
MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions partnered with KEY2ACT to create See, software that allows contractors to use smart glasses on job sites to capture photos and videos of their work. The new technology helped MacDonald-Miller speed up customer payment and dramatically cut down the time spent explaining work that was done to customers disputing charges. It also increases customer engagement, building trust and leading to new work.
Leveraging Mobile Devices
MacDonald-Miller is a full-service design-build mechanical contractor that focuses on making buildings work better. With broad design, retrofit, and service capabilities, the company specializes in providing answers for its clients’ toughest building challenges.
With more than 1,000 employees, including 100 service technicians, MacDonald-Miller is already a leader in the Pacific Northwest, counting companies such as Nike, Boeing, and Microsoft among its clients. But like every leader, MacDonald-Miller is continuously challenged to stay ahead of the competition.
Recently, company leaders took a hard look at the technology behind their business to determine needed areas of investment, said Bradd Busick, MacDonald-Miller’s chief information officer. Mobility and collaboration were the two drivers identified as key to ensuring MacDonald-Miller’s continued success and growth. “We have over 1,000 mobile devices running around our shop,” Busick said. “We wanted a way to be able to take those devices and allow people to collaborate while they were mobile.”
All Eyes on Tech
Around the same time, MacDonald-Miller learned about an interesting new product being used by a similarly sized Tennessee-based company. Facing a technician shortage and a desire to improve customer relations, that company had recently started equipping its field techs with smart glasses to shoot pictures and video of their work.
Intrigued, Busick and Rory Olson, MacDonald-Miller’s service operations manager, began thinking about how the same technology could be used at MacDonald-Miller. They knew, however, that a connection to MobileTech was essential. “We couldn’t do it without KEY2ACT,” Busick said.
So KEY2ACT developers partnered with XOEye Technologies, the company behind the smart glasses, and MacDonald-Miller to create See, KEY2ACT’s new product that enables MobileTech users to easily link video and pictures to customer accounts. Everything technicians do with their smart glasses is automatically streamed to the cloud, creating one central repository of visual evidence. Customers are provided access to selected photos and videos of the completed work through a link on the job’s call summary report.
Customers that have experienced See are excited about the visibility provided by the technology. “To me, the coolest thing is the customer’s reaction when they get it,” said Travis Eshpeter, a service foreman for MacDonald-Miller. “They’re pretty shocked that there is this technology out there.”
Seeing Builds Trust
From MacDonald-Miller’s perspective, one of See’s biggest benefits is the opportunity it provides to increase customer engagement. Much of the work done by MacDonald-Miller, like pipe and duct work, is hidden behind walls. Other pieces of equipment are in locations that aren’t easily accessible, like the roof or basement. See does exactly what the name implies: It allows customers to finally see exactly what their technicians are doing. With seeing comes connection, and with connection comes trust.
“Anytime we can get some more client engagement creates a higher level of trust,” said MacDonald-Miller CEO Gus Simonds. “If we can help that building operator make a better decision about something, then I think he’ll be more confident about what MacDonald-Miller can do for him.”
The ability to better understand the work completed on each job brings another big advantage when the customer gets billed for the work. With MacDonald-Miller, a large site may have 20 to 50 calls in a month, and when the customer reviews a bill to approve payment, they’re usually not going to remember what each of the charges was for. With access to pictures and video from each call, they can immediately find out.
Not only does that help customers pay their bills faster, but it’s also helping MacDonald-Miller cut down on overhead. For example, MacDonald-Miller has a customer that two technicians typically spend a couple of hours meeting with each month to go over bills and work orders. Most of that time is spent answering questions about individual charges, Eshpeter said.
Now that MacDonald-Miller is using See, those meetings are focused on future projects and potential work that MacDonald-Miller can do for the company. The customer is no longer routinely disputing charges. “They’re just paying. They’re looking at it, and the bills are being paid,” Eshpeter said.
Moving forward, the improved engagement provided by See has the potential to help MacDonald-Miller reduce customer churn. In real time, it’s also helping them attract new customers. Ninety days after they started using the solution, the company landed a huge national account based in part on the fact that MacDonald-Miller was using this technology.
“They said, ‘No one’s doing this,’” Busick said. “We said, ‘Yeah, we know.’”
New Uses Planned
MacDonald-Miller leadership plans to implement a number of additional uses for the smart glasses technology in the near future. Chief among those is the ability to enable real-time troubleshooting between technicians.
With the smart glasses technology, technicians who run into a problem can simply hit call on their phone and connect with a journeyman. Instead of struggling to explain what they’re seeing, the technician can share a live feed through the smart glasses. The more experienced tech can then walk them through the fix. A bonus? Those calls can be billed at the higher journeyman rates.
Other future uses could include the creation of training videos, attaching photo and video links to field quotes and maintenance proposals, feeding video to the office from a construction site to show the need for a change order, and more. The technicians and site supervisors themselves will likely be the ones coming up with the best ideas, Olson said.
“As we roll this out to the guys, I’m asking them,” Olson said. “These guys are doing the work every day. They’re going to have a wealth of ideas.”
For more information, visit www.KEY2ACT.com or call 866-KEY2ACT (866-539-2228).