Ask any talent acquisition leader in the field service industry and you’re likely to hear a similar story: It’s hard to find qualified technicians. Unfortunately, the problem is expected to get worse before it gets better.
According to the 2018 Talent Shortage Survey conducted by Manpower, 45% of employers surveyed in the U.S. say they’re having trouble filling jobs.
That’s up from 14% in 2010. The most in-demand roles are in skilled trades such as electricians, welders, and mechanics, with technicians coming in among the top ten as well. The main reasons given are:
- A lack of applicants (26%)
- A lack of experience (21%)
- A lack of required hard skills (14%)
For this reason, many field service management organizations are turning to a blended workforce to meet demand. In an increasingly complex market, to stay competitive and deliver exceptional customer service, field service companies need to employ technicians with more sophisticated skills to accommodate smart home systems.
What is a Blended Workforce?
A blended workforce is a staffing model that uses both full-time employees and contractors within the gig economy to help meet the fluctuating needs of a company. In the field service industry, companies that use a blended workforce schedule and dispatch both employed and third-party field technicians to complete customer service requests.
Blended workforce management requires a more strategic approach than simply using contractors alongside employees. Effective contractor management services and field service management software can transform a hybrid workforce into a source of higher customer ratings and better First Time Fix Rates (FTFR). But field service organizations often create more headaches for themselves (and their field techs) by using inefficient processes or software that isn’t meant for third-party contractors and employees.
We’ll explore four common mistakes field service organizations make when trying to build and manage a hybrid workforce, and how to avoid them.
Top 4 Blended Workforce Management Mistakes
1. Inefficient billing processes
You want your contractors to spend their time with your customers while they’re out in the field, not filling out spreadsheets and forms. Cumbersome, manual invoicing processes can frustrate contractors and decrease job satisfaction. The time from service to getting paid shouldn’t take weeks.
Mobile field service software, available on the technician’s mobile device, gives contractors the ability to submit claims and take payments from the customers on-site in real-time. Mobile forms and data fields are configured for each customer and service details are easily captured, streamlining the entire process. This increased efficiency means contractors get paid faster, often within days of the appointment. When contractors aren’t worried about getting paid, they’re free to focus on delivering a positive customer experience.
The current technician talent shortage is likely to increase the number of double bookings as field service managers struggle to fill on-demand service requests. Smart home technology adoption also plays a role as technicians with more advanced skills will be in greater need. Not only does double-booking cause issues with customer satisfaction, but it can also lead to dissatisfaction among contractors whose skill sets are in short supply.
Field service scheduling software can eliminate double-bookings by automatically selecting the best technician—employed or contracted—for each job. Technicians are placed in the schedule in the least costly open slot, which reduces overall costs and improves first-time fix rates. When unavoidable booking changes occur, AI scheduling software automatically reconfigures existing schedules to incorporate the changes to produce the best outcomes.
3. Onboarding contractors at the wrong time
The worst time to bring on a new contractor is after they’ve gone on their first service call. The first job shouldn’t be considered a test of the contractor’s qualifications. You don’t want to use your customers as guinea pigs in this way. One negative online customer review could do significant harm to your organization’s reputation.
Ensuring you have the right contractor assigned to each job starts before that first assignment, during the credentialing process. Workforce management software streamlines this process through comprehensive background checks, including service quality rankings and feedback, contract rates, and reject rates. The software allows you to define the contractor criteria that best meet your organization’s needs and culture. Customize the authorization process and manage training and performance requirements from within the workforce management software. Knowing each contractor’s service profile upfront is essential to building a quality hybrid workforce. A quality team of field service technicians forms the foundation of a positive customer experience and positively impacts your organization’s bottom line.
4. Failing to categorize contractors
Scheduling and deployment can be challenging for blended workforce managers. Many organizations treat their contractors the same way some schools treat substitute teachers. It doesn’t matter the subject--they just need someone to fill the spot. That doesn’t work within the field service industry when you’re managing a hybrid workforce. Not all technicians are right for every job; sending an HVAC technician to install a smart home entertainment system won’t end well—for the technician or for the customer. Likewise, sending a highly skilled technician to a simple job is a waste of money and resources.
- Workforce management software automatically matches and dispatches the best technician for the job, whether employed or contracted.
- Route optimization software leverages geolocation technology to deploy technicians in close proximity to the customer to keep the schedule on track.
- Mobile field service software locates the appropriate parts for each job so technicians don’t have to call around or drive long distances to get the equipment they need.
This automated, real-time process reduces delays by ensuring technicians arrive on time and are equipped with the right tools and parts to fix the job the first time. It also helps reduce over or under-utilization of technicians.
Intelligent integration of third-party service contractors increases visibility for your field service organization and customers while ensuring a better service experience, greater operational efficiencies, and lower costs. The right workforce management software makes it possible.
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