All organizations encounter mishaps.
A field service business with a strong mobile workforce is always a few steps ahead of its competitors. But even the very best field service operation encounters mishaps every now and then. What’s important is how they keep from repeating those mistakes.
Field service operations are complex, and the data that springs from them is incredibly valuable in managing the entire business. But because field service data comes from numerous sources, disparate systems, and different formats, it can be as overwhelming as it is useful.
We’ll have more on how to deal with “data overwhelm” later. But first, imagine yourself in the following real-life scenarios, then read on to see possible ways to respond if and when they occur in your organization. If you recognize yourself in one or more of these seven scenarios, it might be time to focus your attention on finding a field service management solution that will help you avoid making mistakes. (Please note that they’re not ranked in order of importance, because they’re ALL important!)
#1 – Field technicians end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Picture this scenario: Maxine is smart as a whip and great at what she does. Staff and customers alike praise her for her patience and enthusiasm. She usually does a pretty solid job when processing customer requests for service, but about once a week she gets a bit frazzled and mixes things up. Just the other day, she sent a technician to the wrong address because she wrote down the customer’s information incorrectly – and the technician ended up 30 miles from where he was supposed to be!
Learning of her mistake really messed up Maxine’s afternoon, not to mention how it messed up the technician’s day and how it annoyed the customer. Maxine had plenty of apologizing to do, the technician had to travel to the correct address the next day, and the customer was plenty dissatisfied with the whole experience.
Are you regularly missing appointments or do you find yourself overbooked and short of resources? If you are tired of annoying scheduling mishaps, it might be time to invest in a new FSM solution. The best field service solutions come with dedicated real-time dashboards and precise automation – which make scheduling efficient (almost 100% error-free!).
With powerful field service management solutions, these types of mistakes do not happen. Instead, when customers call in with service requests, the call-intake rep pulls up complete, correct records and, with a few clicks on the keyboard, creates an order, plans a route, and schedules a technician to handle the call. And when the field technician gets in his truck, he has everything he needs to successfully service the customer the first time: the right address, full details about the customer, and complete asset specifications and history.
#2 – You’re growing, but your system is not growing with you.
Congratulations on signing that important new customer! But don’t celebrate just yet. See, although this new customer is headquartered just 50 miles away from your main office, it’s in a different state – or even in another country – meaning that a whole new set of regulations and tax codes must be incorporated into your systems and processes.
Complicating matters is the fact that this customer has 1200 HVAC units in 400 different locations that you need to maintain and repair – like, next week! – but you don’t have enough field technicians to provide the service. You’re supposed to be ready to serve the customer’s needs in two weeks, but you need to train new technicians, you have a bulky old legacy system (or a paper-based system) that is hard to “upsize” to accommodate the customer’s needs, and you need to learn about new tax codes and regulations that you’ll have to abide by. (And did we mention you need to have complete specs on the equipment you’ll be servicing for Mr. New Customer?)
If you have a powerful new field service management solution, you’ll have a highly flexible, easily adaptable platform that can accommodate future growth and change. Adding new customers is straightforward. All types of new data can be integrated into the system, new technicians can learn the system quickly, and they’ll have at their fingertips complete asset specs and full customer and asset history. Adding new regulatory guidelines, new maps and new route information is also a streamlined process – all of which help guide not only technicians but also front office staff and the billing department.
#3 – It takes weeks (or even months!) for new technicians learn your systems.
Even the most seasoned field technician faces obstacles when learning new systems and following unfamiliar processes. If you’re training technicians on how to fill out all the forms required to complete a job, and then instructing them on what to do after completing jobs – for example, how to enter all the asset information and provide the right invoicing details into a database or onto a back-office management system – you’re spending an inordinate amount of time.
Instead, technicians can be up and running in less than an hour if you’re using a powerful, streamlined field management platform. Why spend two to four weeks training a technician when in 30 minutes you can get him up and running? With the right platform and mobile app, dashboards are intuitive and everything is easy to understand. Your technicians will thank you.
#4 – Your technicians never arrive on time and your customers complain. A lot!
Great customer service starts with technicians showing up on time. Great customer service means that if there’s a traffic jam and the technician is running behind schedule the customer is alerted immediately.
With the right field management solution, a technician can pull up all the information about his next customer, including his or her phone number and the job that’s to be done once the technician arrives. This is good customer service: “Good afternoon, Mr. Customer, this is Joe, your HVAC repair specialist. I know it’s super-hot today and I promise your A/C will be repaired this afternoon, but there’s a horrific accident on I-95, so I’m running late.” (Isn’t that better than Mr. Cranky Customer calling Maxine at the front desk and shouting at her?)
Digital field service management solutions are not just for routine planning, optimization of routes and allowing technicians to have all job-related information at their fingertips. They’re also great for communicating about urgent job-related issues. For example, when problems are encountered on a jobsite and the technician knows he won’t be able to complete the job as planned – meaning he knows he won’t make it to his two other jobs that day – with a few clicks on his mobile app, he can let the people in the office know that someone else should be dispatched immediately to take care of his remaining jobs.
#5 – Your technicians have to return to the same job multiple times.
Your first-time fix rates are decreasing. Is this because your team is spending hours going back and forth to the office to get the right tools or parts for the job or looking for much-needed information in reference manuals or from team members? Or is it because Maxine dispatches technicians with the wrong skillsets to work on jobs that require different skillsets? Whatever is causing them to return to the job multiple times should be identified and fixed – pronto!
Without a powerful mobile app, these types of issues can happen quite frequently. When these situations do arise, it usually means that the technician has to return later in the day or on the following day. It also means that the customer is annoyed and Maxine is apologizing once again. Additionally, it means there’s no way to recover those lost hours that the technician was on the jobsite but wasn’t able to do the job. Your employees are mobile and the information they need should be, too.
Imagine this scenario instead: The technician with the right skillset is dispatched to the job correctly, but he gets to the jobsite and realizes an additional piece of equipment needs to be repaired (but it wasn’t on his work order so he doesn’t have the specifications on hand). With a powerful mobile app, all he needs to do is register the equipment (such as model number) and all the specifications and repair instructions are available on his mobile app to guide him in the process. He’s happy he can complete the original job and the add-on job, the customer is happy to have working equipment, and the back office is happy because the invoice can go out on schedule.
#6 – Your service is fast, but not your invoicing.
When invoices are delayed, your cash flow suffers. Technicians often do a great job maintaining equipment so it doesn’t fail, and most are pretty good at repairing equipment that has broken down. That’s good for technicians – and good for you! But are they doing a bang-up job providing every single bit of information that billing needs in order to send an invoice within a few hours of job completion?
If the answer is no, don’t get angry at the technician. Equip the technician with a dynamic-yet-simple-to-use field mobility solution like Gomocha FMP360! The sooner you send an invoice, the sooner you’ll get paid. And the sooner you send a complete and accurate invoice, the more likely it is that customers will NOT call with questions that might slow down their payment. Instead, they’ll pay the invoice because it includes accurate information (and also because the technician did a great job repairing their equipment!).
#7 – You’re still using paper, pencils, and spreadsheets to track activities.
Why continue to manage your schedule, orders, inventory, and techs using yesterday’s non-tech methods? Paper-based systems are often really inefficient, and if paperwork is damaged or lost, it’s extremely difficult to ensure accurate and timely completion of jobs.
Printed work orders can fly out the window, get rained on to the point they’re unreadable, be left behind at a Starbucks (and thrown in the trash by the clean-up crew), or simply tossed into a trash bin by a disgruntled employee. What this scenario requires is a lot of backtracking, calling to apologize to customers, researching to discover job details and guessing what probably happened or should have happened – all of which can lead to lost productivity, billing errors, unhappy customers, and lost revenue. Avoid headaches and lost revenue by going digital.
All of the scenarios presented above are not meant to point fingers accusing you of being behind the times. They are meant to inspire you to think about your operations in light of “what can and should be avoided” on your path to “what might be possible.”
If you struggle to manage the massive amounts of information you get, you are not alone. Research shows that the need for solutions to help with field service data management, analysis and reporting ranks above the need for other functionality. Of course, you want to run a tight ship, and field service management solutions help you do that. But you also want a solution that helps you harness all the valuable information that’s available and allows you to evaluate it to ensure that your organization is prepared for future growth and change.
For a free two-hour assessment of your organization and a customized demo of Gomocha’s FMP360, call 240-403-6001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.