Evaluating success in a field service organization used to be all about measuring KPIs. Today, it’s just as much about how customers see your company and how they define success. To customers, success means resolving issues the first time, every time.
According to a report by the Aberdeen Group, “The ability to quickly diagnose a problem, find the right answer, and resolve the issue on a first visit has never been more integral to the success of service organizations.”
That first-time fix rate (FTFR) is essential to helping your company meet its revenue goals. When those rates fall, many companies place the blame on contractors. Instead, they may need to look a bit closer to home. A low FTFR is often the result of poor contractor management.
Below, explore four questions field service organizations need to ask to get to the heart of their FTFR problems.
Do You Have the Right Technician for the Job?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the field service industry. As smart devices make their way into more homes, the field service technicians who support them must broaden their knowledge to more sophisticated and complex systems. This means you as a field service management leader have to be smarter about which contractors you hire and deploy for which jobs.
Even contractors with the greatest FTFR track record are likely to fall short if they aren’t familiar with smart devices and systems.
Ensuring you have the right contractor for each job starts at the beginning: the credentialing process.
Unfortunately, you can’t always take the contractor’s word when it comes to their background and service profile consistency.
Workforce management software can automate the entire process by providing:
- Background checks
- Service quality and feedback
- Contract costs
- Reject rates
This helps elevate the quality of your entire team of contractors. Using your own data, you can establish the criteria that best meets your organization’s needs. This includes tailoring the authorization process to capture the completion of your ideal contractor training and performance requirements.
Do Your Contractors Buy into Your Company’s Mission?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are more than ten million independent contractors in the US, nearly 7% of total employment. his trend is projected to grow, with some estimates indicating contractors will soon deliver 40% of all service work.
This means non full-time employees are increasingly becoming the face of your company to your customers, which is why it’s critical for these contractors to act as an extension of your company. They need to understand—and embrace—your company’s mission and culture as their own. Failure to do this doesn’t just harm your field service organization’s reputation. It can do significant damage to your bottom line and long-term viability as well.
The best way to ensure your contractors are exemplifying your mission is to set expectations during onboarding, before they are assigned their first job.
- Spend time either on the phone or in person to get to know them and to make sure they understand their role in your organization’s financial success
- Be sure to show genuine interest in their own career paths and talk about how working with your company can help them achieve their goals. Research has found that workers who feel valued perform at a higher level
- Engaging your contractors in an open and honest manner ensures they are dedicated to serving your customers with the utmost attention
Developing these mutually-beneficial relationships can strengthen your company’s reputation among the independent contracting community, which helps you build a dependable, high-quality network of contractors.
Do Your Software and Systems Support Both Contractors and Employees?
Scheduling and deployment can be challenging for managers of a hybrid workforce. A lack of interoperability between third-party systems can make it challenging to find and dispatch the right contractor with the right skills for the job. Without full visibility, it can be easy to over- or under-utilization technicians.
Workforce management software and field service scheduling software can seamlessly dispatch the most qualified technician every time—employed or contracted.
These qualified contracted workers also need the same access to tools that help your employed technicians be successful, but this is easy to overlook. “Out of sight, out of mind” may be a cliché, but it is often true for a contract workers. When contractors don’t have access to the tools they need to perform their jobs, you’re be inadvertently putting your contractors at a disadvantage, harming your FTFRs, and damaging customer satisfaction. Tools with the most significant impact include:
- Mobile field service software, available on a mobile device, gives technicians the ability to submit a claim and take payment from the customer on site. It also allows technicians to schedule the next appointment or offer the customer a service warranty
- Route optimization software uses geolocation technology to ensure reps are deployed to customers in their vicinity, allowing them to get to their appointments on time
- Field service scheduling software matches each job to the correct parts so technicians don’t have to go searching for them. They’re able to show up with everything they need to fix the issue the first time
Do Your Managers Value Your Contractors?
In many industries, independent contractors can be viewed as more trouble than they’re worth. It’s value that they can take longer to onboard and can be challenging to monitor and manage, or to ensure consistent work quality. They also often lack insider knowledge about who to contact while in the field, which can reduce FTFRs and customer satisfaction. In this way, contractors can have a negative impact a manager’s KPIs. This can lead to low morale and high turnover. However, it is also true that when managed effectively, contracted workers can provide increased value at reduced costs. By eliminating overhead, hiring costs, and benefits, field service organizations can build a strong, more flexible network of service technicians that can be ramped up or down according to demand.
Business leaders can use field service management software to provide broader insight into contractor performance. This includes real-time field status of in-progress jobs, as well as real-time availability, metric monitoring, and compliance reporting. In short, technology can reduce many of the drawbacks associated with a contracted workforce and can help increase manager adoption.
Protecting your FTFR
Maintaining optimal FTFRs is an ongoing challenge for field service organizations, especially in the IoT. Using contractors to cover gaps in coverage, overflow, seasonal spikes, or even for their special skill sets can help, but only if you have the software and systems in place to help facilitate their success.
To learn more about leveraging field service software or contractor management services to maximize return on your contractor investments, contact ServicePower today.