As gas prices soar, labor shortages dry up the talent pool, and supply chain issues strain business operations, it’s critical that field service companies take proactive steps to mitigate challenges and cut costs.
Recent data from Service Council reveals that while 67% of service leaders cited are experiencing supply chain challenges, 71% are experiencing workforce and talent shortages at the same time. This has posed a unique solution for service organizations operating in 2022 and beyond: do more with less.
Following our last post and recent webinar in partnership with Service Council, here are 4 strategic tips for maximizing your resources and getting more out of your operation:
Build a Frictionless Experience for Field Service Engineers/Techs
We’ve all felt customer service issues in our personal lives. Did you have to go through a call tree? Was the technician sophisticated enough to solve your issue? Did you give up and go the DIY route because of the pain of seeking support?
These same issues are happening internally. Employee engagement and satisfaction is being tied directly to the level of effort they have in their day-in and day-out job, so empowering techs in the field and creating a frictionless experience by arming them with the right technology is critical.
Substandard, overly complex, or dated equipment is a first-class ticket to losing techs. Make sure you implement agnostic infrastructure tech that works with all systems—and that the software and apps work well with devices that your technicians already use to accelerate adoption and reduce time lost on training.
Your technology should ensure that when field service professionals go to a job, they have all the possible information they could need on hand for quick review. This not only arms them with the data they need but also saves time for the entire operation. The tech isn’t forced to call back to the office repeatedly to get the right information on the product, the job, or customer history. The cost can seem high, but you will spend more in the long run if you nickel and dime the technology.
Reduce Operational & Service Delivery Costs Thru Innovative Tech
One of the biggest complaints from technicians is the time they spend finding information, so getting the right technology to speed the process will improve satisfaction. But, it can also help save field service organizations some serious coin as well.
Let’s give a quick, real-life scenario: two technicians or engineers are getting stuck on a job. If the duration is 15 minutes, that’s a minimum of 30 lost minutes for the organization. When you extrapolate that over per diem, per week, per month, per year – you’re looking at a huge cost strain on the bottom line.
Ensuring all key data is readily available enables technicians to fully understand the service history in the context of the job they’re delivering to the customer. Transparency of information, such as a customer’s location or job history, can empower techs, and ensure that the right people and right parts are where they need to be when they need to be there. The right technology streamlines both the internal value chain and the service delivery chain.
So how can field service companies reduce operational costs and avoid waste? Whether it’s fuel-related, scheduling snafus, or dispatch avoidance, better technology and strategic thinking can provide a multitude of opportunities to reduce costs.
For instance, if your customer base is spread over a wide geographical area, creating strategic locations with assets closer to existing and potential new customers will reduce travel time and significantly lower travel costs, doubly important as fuel prices hover at record levels. Importantly, reducing travel time increases the likelihood your field service professionals get home in time for dinner.
Smart scheduling software automates the dispatch process, and accounts for the skills, drive time, and service areas of your technicians to instantly produce the optimal schedule for your field team. This tech saves time and money in the dispatching process and results in the most efficient schedule possible, further reducing soft costs.
Finally, increased demand for ESG – environmental, social, and governance – reporting increases the need for holistic technologies. For large field service organizations, delivery of service is a major portion of their carbon footprint. Utilizing better scheduling and dispatch technologies, automating maintenance schedules, expanding the pool of techs qualified to do more jobs, and fleet and field systems can help managers take control and reduce their carbon footprint while reducing costs.
Improve Service to Improve the Bottom Line
Improving service can have a major impact on not only saving revenue but generating it. How can you eliminate unnecessary administrative tasks while streamlining workflow? How can you speed the completion of assignments? How do you better manage all of this? And how can you do so while improving your bottom line?
It starts with continuous improvement and lean exercises like value stream mapping, which is like a flow chart of every single step in your processes. Value stream mapping helps find duplicate entries that should be unnecessary and other non-value-added steps, which may have been added many years ago, but are no longer efficient as technology evolves.
For example, if your field service engineer lags in submitting expenses it can slow service reports, which then slows invoicing the customer. Tracking and measuring these submissions through a simple app allows field service managers to show the tech the problem and how to correct it.
Continuous improvement in core areas can not only help reduce costs, but can also help techs cross-sell and up-sell services and products. Once managers determine how to measure the most important links in the service chain, they can either adapt their technology or find technology that is a better fit. Either will help improve efficiency and reduce costs. Continuous study and improvement of overall business strategies—and making sure your technology is flexible enough to adapt your business quickly and efficiently—is key to improving your organization’s bottom line.
Shifting from a Customer Satisfaction to a Customer Success Model
The final way to get more mileage out of your field service operation is to increase customer satisfaction and retain customers. For decades, customer satisfaction (CSAT) was judged by a simple formula: greater satisfaction = greater revenue. Today, however, we can meticulously quantify CSAT through comprehensive metrics and clearly defined KPIs that can provide a clear roadmap of how to increase satisfaction and drive revenue.
When it comes to providing technology and solutions for organizations that focus on service management, customer success isn’t just meeting or even anticipating your customer’s requirements; it is using KPIs, reporting tools, data and your own products and services to develop a deeper understanding of your customers’ end goals and become an indispensable partner to help each customer achieve them.
Service operations must collaborate with their customers to identify a shared, customized set of metrics and KPIs that shape how success is defined. This understanding will reinforce the importance of not only having the tools to empower effective service delivery, but also to track how the operation is performing. Service managers are then able to provide a layer of transparency to their customers, which leads to relationships founded on trust.
And of course, implementing the right technology is critical. Innovative service management software like TimeLinx can help reduce customer service wait times, expedite the work order request process, and allow customers to view and edit their current work orders.
TimeLinx also offers users an impressive array of benefits thanks in part to its simple customer portal capabilities. Establishing a customer portal through which your customers can edit and request work orders and view billing information improves the overall customer experience while reducing the customer service burden on your team. In addition to the customer portal capabilities, TimeLinx also offers users a centralized platform for field team management, reducing the risk of errors and minimizing employee downtime, both of which can also lead to greater customer satisfaction.
There are many ways to ensure your operation gets more out of your team. The steps are not always easy, but technology is here to help you streamline and improve operations, squeeze every drop from your existing resources and expand your business to accelerate growth.
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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.