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Four Common Field Service Management Issues and How to Fix Them

The field service industry is an increasingly competitive market. As the Internet of Things (IoT) gains traction, customers will expect a greater level of sophistication in their service experience—one that matches the sophistication of their smart home devices. Field service organizations that succeed in this new ecosystem will be those that embrace a new business model focused on customer engagement and fueled by technology. For many organizations, the journey is likely to be bumpy, especially for the 52% that still rely on manual workflows.

Following are four common issues field service managers face and proven ways to overcome them.

Low First Time Fix Rate (FTFR)

Industry research shows the typical field service organization has an FTFR of just 77%. That means 23% of service calls will need additional work to resolve. It also means that nearly a forth of your revenue stream is stuck in a quagmire of inefficiency at any given time, and that’s not including the additional costs of those follow-up calls. According to industry marketing experts, diagnosing and resolving issues on a first visit is more critical than ever for succeeding in the field service industry.

An article published by The Service Council highlights the priorities field service managers should be focused on in order to improve FTFRs. Here are the top three:

  • Improved triage and diagnosis processes at the time of initial service request
  • Intelligent scheduling of field resources tied to technician knowledge and part availability
  • Better access to service knowledge and resolution information in the field

The most effective approach to achieving these items is to leverage workforce management software. This sophisticated technology seamlessly identifies and dispatches the most qualified technician every time—employed or contracted. This level of visibility into each service call’s requirements, each technician’s expertise and availability, is simply not possible using manual dispatching processes. This type of field service software enables more strategic workforce management and delivers a higher FTFR.

Lack of insight into ongoing customer service issues

When customers experience the same issue over and over, they’re likely to question the professionalism or knowledge of their field service provider—not just the individual technician. And that can cause customers to go elsewhere in the future. It is estimated that US companies lose $41 billion each year due to poor customer service as 44% of customers choose to take their business elsewhere. But the damage goes even farther as 45% of customers will share a negative service experience on social media compared with only 30% who share a good customer experience. Now that most customers consider online reviews when purchasing services, even just a handful of negative reviews can impact future revenue.

This problem can be addressed by using mobile workforce management software that provides insight into the customer and the specific problem before the technician arrives. They’ll be able to see if the problem has occurred in the past, what was done—or not done—to fix it, what parts were used, and whether the customer has a warranty. They’ll also be able to see any feedback from the customer. All of this information is available in real-time to help technicians better understand the situation, better prepare for the service call, and better communicate with the customer. The data is also aggregated and available for field service managers so they can identify problematic issues with process or individual technicians so they can be proactively addressed. This helps ensure your field service organization is operating based on data-driven decision-making, which allows both field service managers and technicians to work smarter and to provide better service to your customers.

Assets are unavailable

Let’s face it—without assets, there’s no business. But it’s not just about having them. It’s about having them easily accessible in the right place at the right time. When assets are managed via manual processes and spreadsheets, achieving that goal is impossible. Traditional inventory management is a huge pain and a top contributing factor for low FTFRs. Organizations need to adopt a new approach inventory management systems that meets the growing sophistication of today’s smart devices and networked systems. It’s no longer just stockpiling washing machine pumps and furnace fan belts. Today’s inventory must include a broader array of parts to meet the myriad of new smart devices that hit the market every day.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive logic technology are the answer. Going beyond historical analytics, AI and machine learning make inventory management smarter by  accurately analyzing, predicting, and monitoring part utilization and requirements. This ensures  adequate stock that is always available. And this means decreased truck rolls, improved first time fix rates, enhanced customer satisfaction, and reduced carrying costs.

Lack of insight into day-to-day operations 

Remember the days when senior leadership relied on monthly reporting to manage forecasting and to identify operational issues? By the time the report was printed, the information was already out of date. And a lack of integrated systems meant the data was collected (and manually entered) in silos. The resources and time required to pull the information and make it usable was significant. And the error-prone manual nature of the process often resulted in information that was incomplete or inaccurate. In the era of the IoT, that lack of insight can be the difference between success and failure. To remain competitive, field service organizations need to utilize technology-enabled reporting and analytics to:

  • Enhance smarter forecasting and planning. Organizations need access to data that includes both employed and contracted workforces. It also needs to include information about each job, sales information, and claims and service history. Having this holistic view of all related data in a normalized format enables managers to make more informed decisions.
  • Streamline operations. AI-powered field service software enables organizations to continuously monitor operations from any web-enabled device from any location. Having full insight and 24/7 access allows for better decision-making and faster resolution of issues. This level of performance monitoring helps increase efficiency and productivity while improving margins.
  • Improve visibility. Field service organizations need the ability to share information across multiple teams and departments in real time. This enhances collaboration and enables teams to proactively address customer service issues, which results in a better overall customer experience.

The time to act is now

Research shows that field service organizations that leverage analytics technology experience an 18% increase in profits, a 42% increase in customer retention rates, and a 44% increase in SLA performance. To succeed in the increasingly competitive market of servicing the IoT, organizations must embrace technology as the foundation of their strategic growth initiatives.  Those that don’t will continue to struggle.

To learn how field service management software and mobile workforce management solutions can help you eliminate costly manual processes, increase FTFRs, enhance customer satisfaction, and optimize operational performance, contact ServicePower today.

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