In addition to the mechanical and administrative aspects of field service management ( FSM), companies need effective strategies to meet customer expectations, balance the workforce, and stay profitable. In the digital age, that almost always means adopting new technology that can keep up with the business’s ever-changing needs.
While each field service business is unique, FSM software can address many common challenges like efficient scheduling and dispatching, first-time fix rate (FTFR), safety and liability, customer communication, and performance management. These elements are all key to operating an efficient service business and increasing both customer and employee satisfaction ratings.
Challenge No. 1: Scheduling
Accurate scheduling won’t just ensure your field operations run efficiently, it will also result in higher customer satisfaction ratings due to techs showing up on time and keeping visits brief. But when it comes to the field service industry, there are many smaller challenges presented by scheduling alone. You need to predict call time length, account for transit time, prevent double booking, make sure the assigned tech has the necessary expertise, and much more.
Unfortunately, field management scheduling is easier said than done, which is why many field management offices use FSM software to automate certain aspects of scheduling and help field workers coordinate with the back office. You can see your workers’ locations, schedule and dispatch work orders, track hours and job progress, and monitor incoming service requests with ease. Tracking your workforce while they are in the field also means you can allocate work orders faster and manage task distribution on a daily basis.
Each field service management solution offers its own unique set of features to assist with scheduling techs. For instance, TimeLinx features a flexible and fast job scheduling interface, a drag-and-drop calendar that is easy to navigate, and the ability to compare tech schedules directly, so you don’t accidentally overschedule someone.
Challenge No. 2: First-Time Fix Rate
First-time fix rate refers to the percentage of issues that are resolved on the first technician visit. FTFR is an important metric because repeat visits eat into profits, exhaust field service technicians, and frustrate customers who just want their service to work properly.
This has cascading effects on the entire organization as well as the entire customer base. Every time a tech has to return to attempt to fix a recurring problem, that means that they aren’t able to visit a new customer, creating a backlog of work orders.
If your organization has been losing time and money on repeat visits, field service management software might be able to help. Not only does this software allow you to keep an eye on your FTFR and other performance metrics, it also offers features that help to increase your FTFR and improve your overall workforce management, such as automatically providing a complete log of service details to the tech before they arrive.
For an example, check out the feature in TimeLinx that offers the ability to filter by skills, so you can assign technicians with the necessary expertise to specific jobs. This will prevent you from having to schedule a second service call simply because the first tech didn’t have the necessary skills or equipment.
Challenge No. 3: Safety and Liability
Providing customers with quality service, bolstering the company’s reputation, and leveraging resources efficiently aren’t the only issues that field service organizations are facing. Depending on the type of call, worker safety and liability can be a serious concern, especially if technicians are visiting hazardous locations such as the top of a radio tower. The central office or dispatch needs to stay in constant contact with their field workers and have a process in place for handling emergencies.
If employees feel like their safety is not being properly protected, they may eventually leave their jobs. And if enough people quit, that will have a huge impact on your service organization. A backlog of work orders will pile up, frustrating customers and burning out the remaining techs. You will also have to spend additional funds to hire and train new service technicians, further impacting your bottom line.
One solution is to use a field service operations tool that provides a “check-in” feature for field workers. Basically, the field team uses this function to notify dispatch of their arrival, and if anything happens, dispatch can quickly see where the employee is or where they last worked. Some FSM software, like TimeLinx , includes automatic geo pins so businesses know where their techs are at all times.
Challenge No. 4: Communication with Customers
Customer relationship management practices adopted by any organization have a huge impact on the success of the business, and field service is no exception. Retaining customers and gaining new ones requires clear communication, which is why keeping customers in the loop about their service calls will have a positive impact on your customer experience ratings. If your truck is running late, if you have to cancel, or if you have to order a part and come back on a different day, it helps to have a mechanism in place, so the service provider can communicate that to the customer.
However, communication with customers can also present privacy concerns. Ideally, customers’ private contact information should be shielded from field staff, and vice versa, for the safety of both parties. This can be hard to achieve without the help of a dedicated field service management platform that is specifically designed with this concern in mind.
The solution, in this case, is to choose a software platform that integrates customer relationship management with field service operations. If you want to go the extra mile, a branded customer-facing app with a self-service portal can reduce the number of calls and increase customer satisfaction. For instance, TimeLinx offers seamless online booking in addition to a streamlined communication portal.
Challenge No. 5: Performance Management
Every company needs precise and clear data to compare their performance against goals and make decisions that move the business forward, and this is especially true for field management organizations. While manual methods, like spreadsheets, paper documents, and calculators, can provide accurate analytics, they require a mountain of manual data entry and research and are prone to human error.
Switching to the automated dashboard and reporting modules that are offered by many field service apps can help decision-makers monitor trends and performance without adding hours of labor to their already full schedule. Plug-and-play reports are also a great way to analyze product demand and monitor the growth of your customer base with minimal effort.
When they face challenges, many field organizations focus on increasing their workforce, opening additional contact centers, attracting new customers through multiple marketing channels, and other solutions. But, there’s no point in gaining more customers if you’re only going to lose them after the first (or second, or third) service call.
The Right FSM Software Can Help
Whether you are a local small business or a huge enterprise company, field service management is a complex industry that involves multiple levels of coordination. Implementing the right FSM software can help address many of the common challenges facing field service organizations, as well as challenges that are unique to your business. Contact TimeLinx if you would like to learn more.
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TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.