If field service agility isn’t currently a priority for your business, it should be. It can boost efficiency, cut costs, improve the employee experience, and grow customer loyalty. On the flip side, a lack of agility can wreck the reputation your company has worked so hard to build and frustrate your frontline service team.
Field service agility is what gives your company the ability to quickly adapt to business, customer, or environment changes. It’s what sets you up for success, no matter what comes your way.
Even in the current, ever-changing economic environment, your customers won’t settle for anything less than high-quality, efficient, and safe field service. But with fluctuating fuel and raw materials costs and unpredictable circumstances, like climate change and world events, it can be hard for any company to achieve field service agility.
Liat Barzily, a director of product management at Salesforce, is familiar with the rapid pace of change in recent years. “If anything, our new world has reinforced the idea that field service changes on a daily basis,” she said. “Service providers have to be very creative, very agile, and have to react quickly to the conditions in the field.”
How can you improve your organization’s field service agility? Start at the top. Here’s how field service management can set you up for success.
Drive field service results with automation technology
Improve your agility with field service management built for change.
Schedule the right frontline service worker for the job, every time
It’s important you send the right frontline service worker with the right tools and skills to every job at the right time. If not, they may show up to a customer’s home or business unprepared and late. That annoys your customer — and your first-time fix rates will suffer. This hurts your business reputation and bottom line. You’ve also rolled a truck, taking away from your sustainability efforts.
Your dispatcher can use field service management to schedule a frontline service worker who has the exact right skills and tools and is in a nearby location. Automation technology also helps them make decisions based on travel time, live traffic updates, and predicted job duration.
The system can also suggest automatic adjustments in real time if unforeseen issues, like inclement weather, come up when your frontline service worker is on their way. Along with improving your field service agility, you’ll boost worker efficiency, maintain consistent service level agreement (SLA) compliance, and increase customer satisfaction with fast, complete service — the first time.
Create an agile plan with automation technology
Remember the saying about best-laid plans that often go awry? You might start your day with well thought out plans, but by lunch, unexpected events have turned them upside down. This happens all the time in field service.
“Someone is stuck in traffic, maybe,” Barzily said. “A job that was supposed to take an hour takes an hour and a half. Maybe something unpredictable happened, like in the case of utilities, the technicians discovered wiring that was old or not up to code.”
A customer cancels an hour before their appointment. One of your employees or contractors gets sick, leaving you down a person. You get an emergency job that can’t wait until tomorrow. The possibilities of what could happen is endless.
This is where automation technology can help with field service agility. Real-time automation in your field management system responds to any schedule change and periodically optimizes the schedule to adapt to changes throughout the day to ensure proper service. It also saves on operational costs.
360 Apartment Renovations, a Texas-based company that gets apartments ready for the next tenant, has been able to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction by using automation technology in its field management system to schedule workers for on-site jobs.
“Our dispatchers are now able to continuously monitor work orders, optimize routes to reduce driving time, and improve on-time appointments, no matter what happens throughout the day,” said CEO Julio Hartstein.
Give customers real-time visibility with automated updates
Now, more than ever, customers want to know what’s going on from the moment they make a field service appointment, to the moment their issue has been resolved.
This isn’t surprising, given the widespread use of apps that enable you to get almost anything delivered to your doorstep, plus give you a view into every step of the process. Customers have come to expect this level of visibility into service from all industries, especially field service.
Barzily points out, “If we request some service, installation, for example, we wonder, ‘Where’s the technician? Are they on their way? Are they late? Will they be a bit early? Where are they right now?'”
Beldon Roofing, a commercial roofer in Texas, uses field service management to give customers visibility into their field service requests. The night before an appointment, the customer receives an automatic email with personal details about their rep. Then, as the project progresses, they get email checklists that are updated with the project status.
“We can provide faster, better service and give our customers a bird’s-eye view of their projects every step of the way,” said CEO Brad Beldon.
Field service agility makes for happy customers and employees
Before social media, an unhappy customer might tell a handful of people about their experience. Now, they can take their complaints to an audience of hundreds, or even thousands, with just a few clicks. One negative review on social media can wreck your company’s reputation.
Your frontline service workers are the face of your brand. In fact, they may be the only company representative your customers ever meet in person. So perfect the customer experience. Make sure every interaction is positive — from the start of the job right through completion.
Set your frontline service team up for success with field service management that helps them be agile on the day of service, no matter what they encounter. The solution should incorporate digital tools that provide them with visibility into work plans, schedules, and even training materials. Frustrated frontline service employees and contractors may quit if they don’t have the right technology to do their job efficiently. Improving agility on the job with field service management will help you keep workers.
With field service agility comes loyal customers
Field service management built for agility is also perfectly tuned to find new opportunities with existing customers. For example, when companies are aware of the pain points customers experience with a single view into their accounts, they can quickly position themselves to provide a solution and build loyal relationships. Moreover, there are opportunities to capture new business through upselling or cross-selling to happy customers.
Barzily explains, “Let’s assume there’s a field service worker making a fix in my house. And they tell me about a new service and I now want to book it. Imagine they tell me, ‘Okay, I’ll book a visit for you right now. I’ll be here in two days at 8:00.’ That’s an agile way to respond to needs you see in the field.”
In today’s world, agility isn’t aspirational, it’s necessary. Barzily said the possibilities are endless. “You have to be very quick,” she added. “Those who are agile these days will build lifelong customer relationships.”
Find the fastest route to field service success
Read how automation technology can increase efficiency and agility in your field service operations.