A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Field Service Fall 2015 conference. This event brought together top professionals managing teams of field technicians, engineers, and service employees from industries such as building maintenance, energy, waste management, and scientific equipment.
The event’s strong lineup of presenters helped explain just how difficult the planning challenges of a field service planner really are. However, a number of technology advances are helping organizations to provide better service, and empower workers to achieve greater results in the field.
1. A strong focus on the customer experience is crucial for today’s service organization
Old adages like “the customer is always right” may seem dated, but in today’s age of convenience, on-demand service, and technology, field service companies must consider how every aspect of their operations ultimately affects their customers’ experience.
Service organizations are now expected to go beyond simply showing up in order to please customers. With technology-driven companies like Uber revolutionizing how consumers request services, standards are raised for all other industries. Today’s companies expect interactions with service professionals to be seamless, engaging, and empathetic to the human side of their problem.
Renee Cacchillo, Senior Vice President of Safelite, spoke about the challenges in taking the US-based auto glass repair company from “good to great”. She discussed the company’s decision to invest in technologies that make it easier for customers to book appointments across multiple channels. Safelite also use SMS messaging to deliver real-time updates on service appointments. Cacchillo revealed that this focus on customer experience had increased Safelite’s revenues and helped the company meet key support KPIs like net promoter score (NPS).
2. Field mobility is changing the game
Day 2 of the conference featured numerous presentations on how mobile technologies are not only improving the efficiency, but also the performance of field workers. When critical updates about routes, requirements or new jobs can be relayed directly to the technicians’ mobile devices, workers are more likely to arrive on time, fully prepared and equipped for their tasks.
Workers can also use mobile devices to access online resources, support manuals, and even real-time virtual assistance for problems they encounter on-site. Furthermore, mobile workflows and forms reduce time spent doing paperwork and give managers live updates on projects, assignments, and utilization.
3. Right place, right time for inventory and parts
Chris Gera, Vice President of Field Services at Vivint shared the surprising findings of a survey he conducted among his field employees. The biggest pain point in their day-to-day job wasn’t dealing with unhappy customers, working too many hours, or technical challenges. Instead, Vivint’s technicians stressed that not having the parts of inventory to complete a job was by far their most frustrating hurdle.
Planning your people is only half the puzzle. Field service managers must also make sure that workers are supported with the right equipment, parts, and tools to get the job done. Better multi-resource planning can drive efficiency across the board, but is one of the hardest things to get right.
Optimization technology eliminates the need for repeat visits; it increases the first-time fix rate by enabling planners to make sure the right planners, equipment and parts are where they need to be, when they need to be there.
4. Technology can improve customer and employee experience
A customer’s perception of a company is largely determined by the effectiveness of the technician assigned to their problem.
Optimal planning supported by technology can improve the customer experience by ensuring that technicians are on time, prepared for the job at hand, and able to complete their assignment as quickly as possible. Likewise, better communication and planning can improve employee satisfaction and retention rates.
As a field services professional, how has technology helped you deliver better results to your customers or made your field workers more effective? I’m curious to hear your answers.
Looking to overcome the planning hurdles standing in the way of efficient field operations? Join our webinar happening on October 29, 2015. Click here to learn more.