Tag Archives: Field Service

10 Top Trends in Field Service

Emerging technologies—mobile, advanced analytics, and more—are making their mark on field service operations. Without a doubt, today’s field organizations have unprecedented opportunities to transform how they do business and deliver better service to customers.

As we move full steam ahead into 2015, what topics are most pressing to field service leaders? A recent survey of 180 organizations from The Service Council’s (TSC) provided essential insight.

Here are ten top-of-mind issues for today’s field service organizations:

  1. Field activity is on the rise: TSC’s survey found that more than half (55%) of respondents noted growing numbers of field visits.
  2. Customers hold equipment longer: A big reason for the jump in field service activity is that customers keep equipment for longer periods. Forty percent (40%) said they saw increased customer service needs tied to this factor.
  3. Many field ops are adequately staffed: About two-thirds of organizations say they can have enough resources meet current rise field service demands. Still, nearly half (47%) had open positions at the close of 2014.
  4. Talent loss is an imminent threat: Although field service workforces are currently stable, many firms expect to lose personnel and ramp up hiring in the next three to five years.
  5. Field service revenue is growing: More than two-thirds (68%) of businesses saw more revenue from field service activity last year. Nearly half (47%) said field service grew more than 10 percent in 2014.
  6. Mobile adoption keeps rising: Not everyone is mobile—yet. In fact, 52 percent of respondents said implementing mobile apps to reduce paperwork is a 2015 priority.
  7. Self-service needs improvement: Forty-seven percent said their customers have no self-service options. That means those customers can schedule or cancel appointments or check on technician status. This is key opportunity for investment.
  8. Real-time video is emerging: Fifty-six percent (56%) are exploring options for real-time video to improve efficiency. One-third of that group expects to adopt video in the near-term
  9. Service costs concern customers: Thirty-one percent (31%) of respondents said customers complain about costs for any services not under contract.
  10. Inventory management is gaining focus: Respondents highlighted parts and inventory management as top execution challenges.

These findings show that field service is in transition. While many see revenues up and staffing as adequate, the coming years will bring inevitable shifts. Field services need to lay the groundwork now for a successful tomorrow.

2015 Focus Areas

In addition to summarizing trends, TSC has also identified key 2015 priorities. Those include: process control and review, talent, execution, IT infrastructure, and call management, dispatch and scheduling.

According to TSC, process control is a consistent priority, but the focus has shifted. Today, more field service organizations are looking for ways to improve customer satisfaction and increase revenues.

Many organizations are looking at processes—such as appointment reservations, dispatches, and post-appointment follow-up—within the field service operation.

Field service organizations are also strategizing now to address impending resource shifts as older workers move into retirement. They are also looking at ways to improve automation to reduce paperwork, support knowledge transfer, and provide customer information and training to field service representatives. Mobility and wearable are two other hot button topics for many field service organizations.

Importantly, many service organizations are recognizing that low-quality call management has negative effects on dispatch and delivered service levels. Organization are realizing that poor contact processes can cause unnecessary or ineffective dispatches. They are looking for ways to improve scheduling—including making it easier for customers to schedule visits and tightening appointment windows.

Better Service, More Profit

The recent TSC survey reinforce findings from a Worldwide Business Research (WBR) study last year. That study of 125 executives found that 70 percent said their companies’ profit from service was equal to or greater than sales. Seventy-nine percent also noted that they have metrics to measure and track customer satisfaction. That is vital since the link between customer experience and revenue is well known.

It is clear that advanced contact management is a key priority for field service ops in 2015. By making appointment scheduling easy, tracking technician status, and shortening appointment windows field service leaders can make dramatic improvements in customer experiences and gain higher profits.

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Do TSC’s findings ring true for you? Let us know what you see as your top areas of focus for 2015.

  • Are your revitalizing your processes and operations to deliver better customer experiences?
  • How solid are your appointment and contact management functions?
  • Are you gaining more revenues from service visits?

Share your thoughts in the space below. We welcome your insights.

Field service

Field Service Customers Have High Expectations

Field service has tremendous power to make or break customer experiences. Organizations with field service components need insight on large-scale trends and shifts in customer needs and perceptions.

Emerging information from The Service Council (TSC) field service research study is a must-read for any service-centric brand interested in improving customer experiences. As of this writing, TSC is still taking survey input from organizations with in-house or outsourced field service groups.

Top Areas of Complaint by Field Service Customers

As customer demands for higher levels of service grows, field service teams must take heed of their customers’ top pain points. A significant number of customers—up to 90% in one recent year—switch brand loyalties after a poor service experience. That means field service operations need strategies to address emerging customer dissatisfaction issues.

1.  First Visit Issue Resolution

Traditionally, first-time fix has been a chief interest and area of complaint for field service customers. This is consistent with cross-industry research from Accenture. The consulting firm’s 2013 Global Consumer Pulse Research Study revealed that 72% of consumers who switched brand preferences would stay loyal to a brand who resolved their concerns on the first attempt.

Failure to resolve issues on the first visit is emerging as the #1 source of complaint in TSC’s 2014 survey. However, in prior years’ research, lack of first time fix has outpaced other customer dissatisfaction causes by a wide margin. Not so in 2014.

Does this mean service providers are getting better at first-visit issue resolution? No. This year’s first-time fix rate is consistent with last years. However, more customers are seeing success via self-service channels, which eliminates needs for on-site technician dispatches.

2. Service Visit Experience

Today’s customers desire more control over their experiences when a field service rep visits. This is reflected in several of their other top areas of concern. TSC’s findings show that nearly 1/3 of respondents said their customer complaints tie to concerns that the wait for an appointment was too long. Another 25% of respondents indicated that complaints arise from customers’ perceptions that they lack visibility into agent status. The length of appointment windows is another area provoking concern—with 22% of respondents noting complaints tied to this factor.

3. Service Costs

As TSC reports, the cost of service is becoming a key area of concern for customers. Approximately 30% of survey respondents noted that customers had registered cost complaints. According to TSC, many customer complaints arise from non-contract service and repair charges. Customers may perceive that they are not receiving value above and beyond standard service visits, yet are being asked to pay more. They may also question why their service provider is instituting cost-saving practices and not passing savings along to the customer.

Taking Charge of the Field Service Experience

Today’s field service operations have an unprecedented opportunity to use technology to take control of the customer experience. Effective, integrated customer contact strategies can empower your company to achieve shortening appointment windows and give customers greater insight into appointment statuses.

A key first step to tightening appointment windows is tying your contact management solution to your workforce management system. This allows you to provide real-time updates on customer statuses to your technicians in the field. If you can’t reach a customer or if a customer needs to cancel at the last minute, you can convey this information to your field service rep and allow him or her to move to the next pending appointment.

Another effective practice field service leaders employ is day-of-job customer contact. One-way appointment reminders 24 to 48 hours in advance are often not adequate for organizations which need to make dynamic adjustments to their daily dispatch schedule. You can institute day-of-job contacts to connect with every customer or just those who have not yet confirmed their appointments.

Service leaders also often implement automatic cancellations for unconfirmed customers. With this approach, you can issue a series of communications alerting your customers that their appointments will automatically cancel if they do not contact you to confirm. In addition, you can give your customers flexibility to self-cancel and reschedule. This lets you cut back on wasted trips an eliminate visits to customers who do not require service.

Opportunities for Innovation

As your customers rely on mobile devices as their key information portals, you can innovate communications approaches with your customers on-the-go. You can send them day-of-job confirmation notices and alerts about their pending appointments to give them the empowered customer experiences they expect. As an added benefit, you can manage your field service techs more effectively an dispatch with precision.

With the right technologies and smart contact strategies, you can address some of the chief sources of customer dissatisfaction and emerge as a field service leader in your industry.

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If your organization has a field service component, we would love to learn more about your experiences

  • Are your customer concerns consistent with the current TSC findings?
  • What steps have you taking to address customer experiences?
  • What emerging innovations do you see as game-changers in field service?

We look forward to hearing from you. Share your thoughts below.

Don’t Let Field Dispatch Be Your Weakest Link

Companies, such as telecom service providers, cable operators, and utilities often have large field service teams. These go out to job sites or customer homes to complete necessary service and repairs.

Historically, field service units have been a giant source of waste and cost for many businesses. In addition, waiting at home for appointments is also costly to the economy on a large scale. In a single year, the cost of time spent waiting for appointments at home was $37.7 billion dollars, with the average wait for an in-home appointment topping out at four and a half hours. Clearly, businesses can do more to cut their own costs and improve customer service by improving appointment timing.

The good news: today’s advanced automation capabilities give companies better ability to manage highly-variable field dispatch functions with precision.

Many organizations with large field service operations have taken the first step of implementing appointment reminder capabilities. Some of the most advanced appointment reminder solutions offer multichannel customer outreach via phone, text, and email to remind customers of an upcoming visit by a field service technician.

For even greater results, companies need advanced pre-dispatch confirmation and cancellation solutions. These powerful technologies can provide up-to-the-minute customer appointment statuses for real-time schedule adjustments that can prevent costly no-show and no-access appointments. Pre-dispatch confirm and cancel technologies can offer breakthrough performance, trim 100 to 1000s dispatch routes a day and radically cut costs.

  • Are you a service provider with a large-scale dispatch operation?
  • Do you know how much wasted dispatches cost you and how much you can save with improved technologies?

Read on to learn more and join the discussion in the space below.

Field Service is Often a Company’s Weakest Link

Field service is a major expense for many companies. If the function is mismanaged, diminished customer satisfaction and increased costs are common results.

There are several reasons why field dispatch may be company’s weakest link:

  • Decentralization – Field service divisions may operate a distinct business in their local geography, with limited input and oversight from headquarters. Consequently, field service departments may not have access to the latest company best practices. In addition, companies may find it difficult to collect and analyze data on field service teams’ performance, thus limiting ability to recommend improvements.
  • Increasing Workloads – As companies have answered customers’ demands for broader offerings and more personalized service, they have increased the workload for field service teams. Many field service units face pressures to do more without adding to their headcount.
  • Resistance to Change – Some companies’ field service teams may be skeptical of process improvements or new technologies originating at a corporate office. In some cases, the complexity of new technology may be a barrier for some workers, who may need to overcome skill gaps to adopt new technologies.

A Mindset Shift: From Independence to Service

Another reason that field service divisions may be inefficient is that they have traditionally been very autonomous. Many field service workers are attracted to their roles because they provide more freedom of movement than a desk job. Field service workers may have the perception that they can manage their own daily schedules, as long as they meet a minimum quota of appointments, repairs, or other activities.

In fact, one study of field technicians revealed that 92 percent claimed that independence was the best aspect of their position. However, in that same survey, 91 percent of surveyed field technicians said that they supported the goal of improving customer service. For companies to achieve measurable customer service improvements, they will need to shift the mindsets of their field service forces to help them accept limitations on their personal autonomy and to channel their focus in to providing better service to customers.

A Huge Cost Burden

Sending a technician out to a site can be very expensive. General estimates suggest that a single truck roll can cost from $200 to $2,000 – with variations by industry and type of business. Every time a company dispatches a technician to a site where he or she cannot gain access to required areas to perform their required work is an unnecessary expense.

Wasted or duplicate truck rolls can add up quickly across large-scale field service operations and do damage to a company’s bottom line.

Optimizing Field Service with Pre-Dispatch Confirmation and Cancellation Technologies

Today’s service providers have opportunities to instill dramatic field dispatch improvements. These organizations must go beyond generic appointment reminder capabilities, which may place a single phone call the day before a scheduled field service visit. Implementing robust pre-dispatch cancellation and confirmation technologies is a key to precise dispatch accuracy, lower costs, and happier customers.

Modern appointment reminder technologies may have built-in confirm, cancel, and transfer functions. However, even with  upgraded appointment reminder functionalities, companies often only achieve 60% dispatch accuracy. That translates to 40% of avoidable wasted truck rolls and thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs.

Advanced pre-dispatch cancellation and confirmation technologies go beyond a single reminder call to provide multiple strategies to reach customer before a truck roll. They offer flexibility to contact customers across multiple channels and can dynamically adjust the timing and sequence of communications to gain accurate appointment statuses from customers. In addition, powerful confirm and cancel solutions can adapt messages based on individual customer profiles to factor in their current confirmation status and any history of missed appointments.

The best solutions take pre-dispatch confirm and cancel processes even further by integrating with workforce management solutions. That way, field service operations can achieve dynamic dispatch adjustments using up-to-the-minute customer appointment statuses to get the right technician to the right location at the right time.

Getting it Right with Sky Creek

At SkyCreek, we have 20+ of exclusive focus in innovating customer contact technologies to improve front-line customer service. Our solutions are in place at some of the largest companies in North America.

We manage more than 1.5 million dispatches each month for major North American service providers with national-footprint field service operations.

With our pre-dispatch confirmation and cancel technologies, many service companies can eliminate a minimum of 100 routes per day from their field service operations. We have delivered proven results for companies, including:

  • Helping one service provider eliminate 1,000 routes per day at a regional level and tens of thousands at a national level
  • Empowering an electric and gas utility to achieve a 20X return on can’t get in (CGI) field service access situations while maintaining a 93% customer contact rate

Our pre-dispatch cancellation and confirmation technologies go far beyond out-of-the-box solutions to offer fully-customizable solutions that can adapt to every businesses’ unique needs.

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    We are always grateful to learn from the real-world experiences of field service experts:

  • What do you see as the biggest challenges in optimizing field dispatch operations?
  • Have you seen customer loyalty benefits from improving field service functions?

Share your thoughts with us in the space below. We look forward to hearing from you.