In field service, no matter how good the schedule there will always be challenges.

Most managers assume that all technicians will report for work each day so there is enough skill to cover planned work and that all vehicles are operational and there are no traffic delays; the jobs run smoothly as the worker knows the specific task that needs to be done, has the skills, parts and tools to do it and the customer or access is available for the required timeslots. In this perfect day all scheduled jobs would be completed, SLAs met and the workforce would get home safely and on time.

In reality there is rarely such a perfect day since there is always the chance that a worker will call in sick or arrive late to work; there are last minute adjustments to schedules as jobs run overtime and emergency jobs come in. Traffic delays may impact work and vehicles may break down. Customers may not be in or access not possible.

As field-based work becomes increasing mission-critical in terms of timing, skills and consequence more importantly than ever companies need to ensure that their field service is not derailed by the unpredictable dynamics of the working day.

What we’ve found 

  • Research by AberdeenGroup revealed that 65% of incoming service requests require a field visit or a dispatch and nearly 26% of these dispatches fail to resolve the problem, requiring secondary or additional follow-up visits.[1]
  • AberdeenGroup also reported that 57% of organizations interviewed say that their biggest customer complaint is that the technician does not resolve the issue first time. This may be due to not having the right part or tools, not having the right skills or not enough time to complete the job.
  • In a recent study by Trimble[2] many operations directors regarded the areas of training and technology to underpin the drive towards customer service excellence. 74% stated that they are providing more training to the workforce and 75% are implementing technology to improve scheduling and help the workforce manage jobs more efficiently.

Optimize the Work Day

The cost to businesses of missed, late or incomplete appointments can be significant with one major telecommunications company reporting they spend in the region of $30 million per year avoiding a second visit.

Today’s customer is expecting more for less, and is willing to shop around for services and, with the growth of social media, is more likely and able to share their experiences of poor customer service. This can lead to many organizations struggling to seek new ways to keep up with demand without compromising profit.

How technology can help

Developments in workforce management solutions now mean that technology allows the optimization and analysis of mobile workforce utilization through intelligent scheduling and advanced performance management tools.

  • Workforce management technology will allow insight into what is really happening in field service operations and what is being achieved.
  • The data can be analyzed through performance management analytics to allow interrogation of the information to provide an understanding of the performance, the trends and the barriers in line with business targets.
  • The analysis drills down to different variables around individuals, teams, regions, job type and so on and can be provided to different stakeholders within the organization depending on their business need.
  • This can help not only look at the number of tasks being performed each day but also the quality of the work and how commitments and SLAs are being met. It can provide analysis of the effectiveness of task estimates and whether these are correct, can compare estimated time it should take to perform tasks across the different variables and feed into SLA setting for example.
  • Breakdowns are available on the tasks performed by type of visit, return visits and reallocation of tasks and give a detailed analysis by comparison of different tasks.
  • A self-learning tool helps to allocate tasks to the right person in terms of skills or geography
  • A dynamic, automated scheduling tool helps to flag tasks in danger of being missed and reallocate them in an intelligent, instant way.

This allows managers to analyze performance and ultimately work to manage the unexpected out of the day and remove the risks which prevent work from being completed.

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[1] Aberdeen Field Service workforce management report, 2013

[2] The Road Ahead Report – the future of field service management, 2012