There are quite literally thousands of mobile device options available to consumers. Different colors, shapes and sizes are available for tablets, smartphones, and phablets, but some devices offer users more flexibility than others, and many offer innovative features not available on other devices. For representatives in the field, having the right features makes visiting clients and collecting effective data much easier. Whether your business is using a BYOD policy or not, here are the 5 features that every field rep needs to have on their mobile device.
1. An Awesome Camera
Being able to take high-quality photos means that there’s never any confusion about what’s going on at each customer visit. More and more companies are having reps use their mobile devices to snap pictures of product-location in store, merchandising displays, or even take selfies at each location. So what constitutes an “Awesome” camera? The purchaser of the device should look at more than just how many Megapixels the camera has. Having a front and rear camera which can be used for video conferencing or front-shots is important, as is having a plethora of camera features to tweak photos to perfection. A phone that does well on both of those fronts, the Samsung Galaxy S5 (pictured above) offers a 16Mp rear-facing camera and a 2.0Mp front-facing camera, as well as features that allow users to edit photos after the fact. Field reps could take out images of consumers who end up in their photos, or highlight important areas of an image for managers to see. The Nokia Lumia 1020 (below) offers an incredible 41-MP rear camera that takes stunning shots if your business prioritizes clarity over all else.
2. A Big Enough Screen
The nicest photos and videos in the world won’t matter if your field reps can’t see them. Screen size is not a big issue on tablets or phablets, but smartphones are a different story. The average smartphone screen size comes in at just under 5 inches, and for field representatives, that is simply not enough. To fully utilize field management software that allows for geo-tagging and photo management, electronic signature capture, and touch sensitive controls, field reps will want an accommodating screen. In the case of field representatives who are collecting signatures from clients for proof of delivery or proof of service, a small screen is an inconvenience not only to the business, but to the customers as well. Everybody knows how frustrating it can be to try signing their name on a digital screen using only their finger. Imagine the frustration when their finger takes up half the screen!
3. The Right OS
Especially relevant for any company that plans on using, or is already using a BYOD policy, having the right operating system means being able to use the same applications for every field rep. The four major operating systems on the market right now—Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows—have app stores with plenty of overlap between them. That being said, if it is at all possible to avoid the headaches that come from incompatibility between hardware and software, it is worth it.
4. A Long Battery Life
Field representatives work long hours out and about, going from customer to customer and using their mobile device at every stop. Unlike the flip-phone era where phone batteries could last days on end without recharging, smartphones still leave many consumers tethered to the wall or car charger for a good deal of the day. The last thing field reps and business owners can afford is to have their smartphone die on them while they are dealing with a customer or performing a retail audit. The average smartphone gets around 7.5 hours of battery life with heavy use, but the maximum charge a battery can hold decreases very quickly with daily use. The HTC One M8 offers around 17.5 hours of battery life on a single charge—more than enough to get through the day. For serious power saving, look for features such as the Galaxy S5’s Ultra-power-saving mode, which enables a monochromatic color scheme and limited features, but brings a standby battery life of nearly 20 days.
5. The Right Accessories
One of the best things about smartphones is that they are incredibly customizable. Deciding which peripherals your field representatives should be using is a major influencer of the purchasing decision, as some attachments and accessories simply won’t fit on to more obscure phones. Things like phone cases for more rugged environments, detachable or Bluetooth keyboards for typing intensive jobs, and card-readers for taking payments on the go can be purchased for individual devices and can make the job f everyone at your business much easier.
Without the right tools, your field representatives will be at a disadvantage compared to employees of other organizations. Being able to collect and process information on the go has gone from being a luxury to a necessity in the world of field management, and those field reps with the tools to do their job most efficiently will help themselves and your organization to succeed in the long-term.
Cam Garrant is the marketing manager at Repsly. Passionate about delivering quality content and data-driven insights, Cam's interests include SEO, basketball, and bad jokes.