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Go Beyond the Whiteboard, Schedule Service for the Real World

Written by Aly Pinder | April 28, 2015

Do customers come first within your business? If you are a service organization or a business which sells a product, your answer is probably yes. But I think this notion, though true, has some nuance. Exceptional customer service should be the end goal, however to achieve this service must run efficiently.

Inevitably products and equipment fail or a defect is found which needs to be fixed. Though not ideal, this scenario demands the service organization react with an answer. This is where field service often comes into play. Yet, too often service relies on outdated tools and processes which lead to late work, redundancies, and skyrocketing costs. Dynamic scheduling tools help optimize for the real world of service, which is never constant or static. As scheduling becomes more complex, it is important to ensure that a number of factors help build the roadmap for successful service execution –

Delight the customer. Historically, showing up to a service appointment within a given SLA was good enough in service. Unfortunately, this is no longer considered good. Customers have the power and the options to demand better in regard to service. Furthermore, service organizations and OEMs are no longer solely judged against their peers in industry, customers expect service levels which rival more customer-first environments (i.e., B2C environments, retail, etc.). This new bar has meant that to excel, service organizations need to ensure they have the field team in place to go beyond that of turning more wrenches on their own timetable. In particular, better optimized schedules can allot resources to meet reactive, proactive, and predictive service needs. Static schedules are in the blind as soon as the paper is printed. Customer service can’t lag behind the needs of the field.

Ensure you can fix it the first time as quickly as possible. The right schedule isn’t just about highlighting the closest technician who is currently free. The service organization is tasked with scheduling all resources to ensure resolution can be reached the first time and a customer can be productive again as quickly as possible. Parts, information, and the skills necessary to solve a problem all need to be available in order to execute a service call. Top performing organizations align and schedule all the needed components of service to guarantee downtime is not the result of poor planning.

Cut costs of unnecessary truck rolls. Despite the emergence of technologies which enable better remote connectivity with machines and equipment, there will be times when service must send out a technician to solve the problem. As seen in Aberdeen’s recent research Evolution of Smart Service: Connected to the Future of Resolution (March 2015), on average only about half of the equipment in the field for the Best-in-Class (53%) is connected to remotely for the purposes of tracking, maintenance, or service (only 37% for the Industry Average). Therefore, despite the excitement around the Internet of Things (IoT), which holds quite a bit of opportunity, trucks still need to roll for service to get done. For this reason, organizations need to be smart about when and why they send out a technician. Service needs to be able to diagnose a problem up front to ensure the right technician with the right skills and parts is scheduled for service.

Reduce inventory costs of unused parts. Too often technicians want to be the hero of the day, so they want to ensure they have all the parts needed to solve any problem which may arise in the field. Needless to say, hoarding of parts for the off chance it will be needed is wasteful and leads to opportunity costs associated with these resources. The value of a robust scheduling engine which can account for the needed parts for a given job and validate that the technician scheduled has those parts, is integral in providing technicians with the confidence that they will only be sent out to jobs for which they have the parts for.

Scheduling service is not as simple as just putting a name on a board at the back office and hoping resolution occurs. There are just too many moving parts in the service lifecycle which demand that service organizations have a real-time view of the field. Service excellence requires a real-time view into the field and service resources to ensure resolution can be achieved efficiently in a dynamic environment of change.


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