The month of January holds great possibilities. This is the time of year when people have high hopes for a healthier lifestyle, and businesses look forward to growth and increased profitability. Yet, by the time February rolls around, 80% of people’s personal improvement goals fail—according to US News & World Report.
Why do people’s New Year’s resolutions fizzle so quickly?
Psychology Today asserts that being too broad or unrealistic with goals can attribute to this phenomenon. They also maintain that success is more likely to occur when people set specific, smaller goals, and focus on new ways of thinking to change limiting patterns. Achieving field service goals is not much different. Organizations that break down goals into realistic, clearly-defined, and actionable steps are much more likely to drive positive change and reach goals set for the new year. In the constantly-evolving industry of Field Service, improvement should be a year-round endeavor. Still, the start of a new year is a perfect time for these organizations to identify areas of improvement and set specific goals for success.
Here are the top 5 areas field service organizations should look at when devising their 2018 action plan:
EfficiencyThe first step in improving field service efficiency is to look at it holistically. For instance, how long does it take the back office to find or generate a work order? Dispatch a technician? Generate an invoice? Do they have real-time asset management capabilities to help techs provide the best service in the field? And speaking of techs, are they supported well enough to arrive on site with everything they need to get the job done the first time? Are administrative tasks eliminated or automated to increase wrench time? Are manual scheduling processes causing them to be late for appointment times? A finely-tuned service team operating at peak efficiency is empowered with tools and processes that save time and increase time spent on revenue-producing tasks.
The key to field service success is understanding—and more importantly, delivering—what the customer wants and expects. This is no easy task, as customers become more demanding and technologically dependent every year. Their increasingly-sophisticated demands can be a challenge for companies that are not operationally or technologically advanced enough to live up to their expectations (or experiences with other businesses in general).
Despite how challenging it may be for some companies, providing an optimal customer experience is the single most important KPI in field service, according to field industry experts. In a recent interview, Mike Israel points to best practices and technology to deliver “traditional service KPIs,” advising that instead of “measuring profitability or number of service calls per day,” service businesses should “analyze the success of the processes involved in delivering service.”
Aberdeen Group’s State of Service Management report supports Israel’s assertions, concluding that “customer satisfaction is, by far, the top metric used to measure the success of the service organization, above profitability or operational goal.”
Specific areas within the customer experience to focus on are:
• Appointment timeframes. In Trimble’s Field Service Index: The Key To Customer Satisfaction, consumers are agreeable to a 1-2-hour appointment window. Leading field service organizations are more apt to fulfilling that basic customer desire with visual scheduling software.
• First-time fixes. Nothing (other than a tardy tech) frustrates customers more than the need for multiple visits to fix an issue. Techs with the advantage of real-time customer, asset, inventory, and contract information have what they need to deliver this critical KPI.
• Personalized Service. Automated functionality and other technology are key to providing excellent customer service, but it’s important to remember to treat the customer as an individual, not a number.
• Preventive Maintenance. Although customers expect service to be quick, they want more than a quick fix; they desire long-term solutions to keep them up and operational at all times. Service contracts offer proactive maintenance to avoid downtown and build strong relationships.
• Self-service. Consumers are growing more and more accustomed to self-service. Providing self-service options such as tracking tech status and repairs engage today’s customer and improve their overall experience.
Relying on outdated processes and tools can prevent a service business from reaching its full potential. Conversely, investing in the right technology can help that same business provide best-in-class customer service, while increasing revenue. Field service software provides technicians with the tools and support they need to: increase first-time fix rates and complete more jobs per day, automate administrative tasks, send invoicing data faster and more accurately to accounting, fulfill service contracts, and much more.
The back-office benefits from drag-and-drop, real-time scheduling capabilities, asset and inventory management, GPS technology to get techs on site faster, and eliminates the need to key in hand-written information from the field to process invoices and work orders quickly and accurately. Even smaller field service businesses can now afford enterprise software technology that will keep them competitive in the marketplace, while providing excellent customer service.
Competition among field service organizations is amplifying the need for companies to heighten the customer experience. Differentiation is the name of the game, and data is helping leading companies pull ahead. Integrated field service management (FSM) systems collect, centralize, and analyze this data to help drive the customer experience, grow business, and make intelligent data-driven business decisions possible.
Finding and retaining the best team members continues to be a challenge for service organizations. Between an aging workforce, competition, and a skills gap, companies need to think outside the box to attract and keep qualified and productive employees.
Investing in the individual success of team members is the best way to build a workforce that is actively engaged in the success of a business. Offering on-going training, mentorship, and an inclusive corporate culture will help existing (and future) employees see their future in an organization. Successful workforce development also requires companies to align with the new wave of workers; Millennials thrive on connectivity, technology, and are more likely to value a healthy work/life balance over salary alone.
Stay the Course
Change can be difficult. It requires commitment and flexibility. Roadblocks and challenges will occur—that is inevitable. Those that are successful figure out how to move past the bumps in the road without veering off course. Unlike personal resolutions, improving field service organizations in the new year requires cooperation and teamwork. It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate accomplishments along the way to strengthen overall commitment to the goals, encourage buy-in, and increase chances for success in the future.
See what field service and mobile employee products were featured at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.Image: Pexels Top 5 Field Service Resolutions for 2018 by Mike Pandl