All industries have felt the effects of COVID-19. As businesses are deemed essential and non-essential, managers and employees alike struggle to identify ways to fill in the gaps that COVID-19 has left in the system, especially when it comes to workforce management. The industry has faced an increase in unique IT needs, changing consumer demand, and juggling the health of employees and customers.
With the needs of the community varying by area, it has become increasingly difficult to manage field service problems day-to-day. Shelter in place orders are limiting the availability of workers, yet demand can surge in other areas of your business.
Resources everywhere are low, but that does not mean that workforce management companies can not still assist their customers and employees. Lack of manpower is not the only aspect of field service that is struggling. Budgets have also come into play during this pandemic. How can you still serve your customers if you’ve had to reduce full-time employed staff? What if you are in a highly infected area, with many employees falling sick or having been exposed? When faced with a shortage of workers and an increase in demands, how can workforce management companies fill in the gaps during COVID-19?
How to Fill Field Service Job Gaps Quickly & Efficiently
For some workforce management companies, the use of third-party contractors has already been fully integrated into their business plan. Gartner predicts that by this year, more than 40% of field-service work will be performed by third-party technicians, and that was before this pandemic came about.
As the field services industry evolves, third parties are becoming a first priority. Dispatching, reimbursing and managing these critical resources are as important as sales, marketing and other functions. And each of these functions has been transformed by technology over the past decade or more. Third-party field service technicians are front line representatives for a brand, and this is not the area to cut corners, especially as the skill-gap widens and these individuals become more important than ever.
Our whitepaper “The Future is Now: Why Third-Party Workforces are No Longer an Option” further explains the value of third-party contractors.
Third-Party workforce management allows organizations to extend service capabilities as well as reduce costs. Using outsourced resources means the service business may not only serve customers cost-effectively, but will also be more prepared for a changing demand for services.
As the workforce is “graying” and the labor pool is decreasing, it is becoming more and more difficult to access the number of technicians necessary to remain successful in the field services. Expanding service capacity with contractors and freelance technicians is an essential part of meeting changing demand in the field services while staying ahead of the service technician shortage.
Perhaps you are dealing with unique personal situations for many of your full-time employees. They could have young children at home, or elderly family members. Since the workforce is already a “graying” demographic, are they at risk for infection? When looking at your team holistically, you may find that the amount of people who can perform physical services is limited. That is where hiring contractors becomes so important.
Hiring contractors allows you to save money, while also providing working opportunities for those willing to brave the pandemic. It allows the company to look out for its employees by keeping them home, as well as to look out for contractors by providing them with work and with support.
Using hybrid solutions of both contractors and employed technicians, service managers are able to safely deploy the appropriate people to the job site while saving money.
Have the right tools
If your company has not yet invested in a field service management suite, now is the time to onboard. Technologies such as field service management software, Artificial Intelligence (AI), predictive analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) can help technicians save time resolving service issues, which makes them available to handle more calls.
Having a virtual platform can help mitigate risk that physical contact could create during the pandemic. If employees have been exposed, then they are still able to do their jobs in the safety of their own homes.
Video technology can be a game-changing tool and can assist in overcoming the visual gap that traditional service delivery has. Take this time to work on your remote service capability. Each incident resolved remotely means less exposure to field service engineers and a faster resolution. Not to mention, innovative Augmented Reality (AR) technology can now facilitate remote service with detailed instructions and expert advice.
Juggling contractors and full-time employees may seem overwhelming, but there are tools out there to help. Seamlessly manage a blended workforce and achieve total control and accountability of service delivery through tools like ServiceInsight.
Not only does it help manage your blended workforce, but it also allows for custom service delivery rules. This is incredibly handy when it comes to the “new normal” that we have adjusted to. Service managers, technicians, and customers can leave messages and openly communicate. This ensures that everyone feels safe in their service process.
Listen to your Field Technicians and Customers
Open communication has never been more important than it is right now. It is imperative that everyone is on the same page when it comes to services and processes. All of this is obviously made easier with a well thought out workforce management system, but there is more that you can do.
Reach out to customers to understand what their current expectations are. Would they be open to remote service? How serious is the problem? Are they ramping up or ramping down in services? Aligning on what is needed and what the expectations are will make the process smoother and hopefully, result in a quicker resolution. Self-service customer portals help to seamlessly facilitate this process by collecting customer feedback with mobile surveys, enabling self-service scheduling, and empowering customers to take control of their own customer experience.
Service managers should also be making an effort to reach out to its workforce. Get feedback from field teams, hold informational meetings and learn what needs improvement when we finally get back to normal. Worker’s will appreciate the transparency and be more likely to be loyal employees.
This pandemic does not appear to be slowing down any time soon and neither will field service. By utilizing a blended workforce, management is able to get jobs done while working with a reduced staff. The advancement in technology has led to remote service as well as a simplified way to holistically manage a complex workforce. Be sure to have open communications with your employees to make this difficult time more bearable.
Explore how workforce management software helps to solve the skills shortage.