As you do work for customers, ESC can automatically keep track of the important details of exactly what you did for them. This is typically done as part of the invoicing process, so as you tell the customer what you did, ESC will update their history record at the same time. This information is then visible on the Qualification screen so you can see it at a glance the next time you do anything with the customer. It is also available through reports so that you can quickly see generic information such as how many unit replacements you have done in a certain period, regardless of the exact part, manufacturer or model. You can also use this information as part of your advertising campaign to send follow up letters and emails to customers that have had specific work done in a certain period. It is even possible to find customers you haven't done any work for in the past year and contact them to try and change that.
In order to track history you will first need to determine what information is important to you and setup history codes to capture that information. For example, if it is important to you to see the number of new installations you have done in a specific period - you will want to setup a history code to track this. History codes can be added by going to the Sales pull-down menu in ESC and selecting Enter History Codes.
Here are a few tips to consider when you are creating your codes.
- Start simply with just a few codes and add more as you need them.
- Descriptions can be modified when the code is used, so keep them generic when setting them up.
- The code will not show on the printed invoice, so it doesn't have to make sense to the customer. Pick something that is easy to find and enter on the invoice.
For example: In this picture we have added a history code to track all new air conditioning unit installations that are over $10,000.00.
The best way to enter history is to add it to the invoice as you're creating it. That way you can tell the customer what you did and track the history at the same time. To do this, create an invoice normally and then enter the history code into the Item field in the body of the invoice. If you don't know the history code you can click on the search icon in that field and change the Type to History to get a complete list of all the history codes you have entered.
After you have added the history code press the tab key to go to Description field. At this point you can either overwrite the existing description by starting to type or click into the Description field at the end and add extra information if you need it. Remember, this is what the customer is going to see on the invoice and what you are going to see whenever you view this customer in the future, so make it meaningful.
Here is an example where I changed the description of the ACINSTALL10000 history code on an invoice to make it more meaningful to us and the customer.
It is also possible to enter history that the customer will not see by removing the check mark from the Print box when you put the history code on the invoice. This can be helpful to hide technical information or unflattering remarks about the customer - not that anyone would ever do that. :)
Note that it is NOT possible to enter a dollar value with a basic history code. These codes are used strictly to tell the customer what you did and track that information afterwards. It is possible, however, to track history using billing codes and parts. This can be a great time saver as you can combine billing the customer, telling them what you did, and tracking their history on a single line on the invoice.
To do this when setting up a billing code (Sales → Enter Billing Codes), simply check the Post to History box.
To do this when setting up a part (Inventory → Inventory Entry), change the Post to History field on the General tab to Yes. This will send the description of the part to the customer's history when it is used on the invoice. You can also associate a real history code with the part by selecting it in the following History Code field. This will cause the description of the history code to go to the customer's record instead of the description of the part.
Inventory part with associated history code.
A word of caution: Just because you can make every billing code or part post to history doesn't mean you should. A labor billing code with a description of labor doesn't tell you anything about what you did when you view it. As a general rule, use only one or two items that post to history per invoice. This will allow you to quickly see the major work that was performed and give you good reports on that as well. You can always drill down into the history record to recall the actual invoice and see the line item detail on it, if needed.
Now that you have entered history into ESC you can access it in many ways. Here a few of the most useful.
- The Qualification screen - (Dispatch → Qualification)
This is the place to start whenever you are dealing with a customer. The history section of this screen will show you the past history for this customer with the most recent items at the top. This is a great way to see exactly what was done before, when it happened and who did it.
- The Mobile Clients
All of the history you enter in ESC can flow to the ESC Mobile devices as well. This gives the information to the technicians that are actually doing the work. This can be a great selling tool as the technician will have a complete list of all the work that has been performed for this customer and the total amount they paid. It is also extremely handy to know which tech worked on the equipment last in case the current tech has questions or wants to point out what the previous tech missed so that it doesn't happen again.
- Dispatch Tickets
If you are not using a mobile client yet, you can set the history to print out on the dispatch ticket.
- History Report - (Sales → Reports → History Report)
This is the perfect report to send to the customer that wants to see a list of everything you have done for them. Read it over first to make sure there are no comments on the report that you don't want the customer to see. Just because you didn't print it on the invoice - doesn't mean it will not print here.
- History Report with Cost - (Sales → Reports → History Report With Cost)
The perfect history report for the manager that doesn't touch computers. It allows you to see everything the history report does but includes the cost of the invoice as well.
- Sales Item Summary - (Sales → Reports → Sales Item Summary)
Add the Inventory Parts | Item Type filter to this report and set it to History to see how many history codes of each type you have used in a certain time period. This is a great way to see how many change-outs you did last month.
- Report Generation - (Customer Info → Reports → Report Generation)
This is where your true marketing power comes into play. By using the History tab of Report Generation you can find which customers you did the change-outs for last month and follow up with them over the phone or through an email or letter.
Written by Eric Rausin
Featured in December 2011 Newsletter