Research report: Are field service standards falling? Part Two

Nov 17 • Features, Future of FIeld Service, Research, resources • 4884 Views • Comments Off on Research report: Are field service standards falling? Part Two

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Field Service News has recently undertaken an exclusive research project, sponsored by TomTom Telematics to explore the standards of field service companies.

In the first part of this feature which is available here we looked at the types of technology that are being deployed amongst field service companies today and explored whether the gap is widening between the have’s and the have not’s in the industry. Here in the second part of this series we look at how companies are communicating with their employees in the field and why this is such a key component of getting it right when it comes to delivering service excellence…

There is also an accompanying report to this series which you can access by clicking this link…

Talking to the field:

In the first part of this series we looked at three options that are important for gathering information from the field and reacting to it. The flipside of a modern field service management solution is how we communicate information back into the field. This is perhaps the most important element of an overall solution to get correct as if done well it can not only improve your companies efficiency, increase your service standards but also make your field workers lives easier. We asked our respondents “How do you inform your drivers of jobs and work schedules?” Giving the options of “Phone”, “Text”, “Paper dispatch note” “Via in Cab navigation” and “via App”.

Paper dispatch

Lets look at paper dispatch notes. Of the options given this is probably the most arduous means of delivering a work schedule for many reasons.

As a starting point lets look at paper dispatch notes. Of the options given this is probably the most arduous means of delivering a work schedule for many reasons. Firstly it is dependent on your field workers arriving at a central depot or office to collect their orders for the day. A waste of time and fuel for everyone involved, and from the field workers point of view an additional hassle at the beginning of the day when they could be starting their first job. Secondly, paper based work schedules are out of date from the moment they are printed. Such a system has no option for the quick reactive response that you desire when an emergency call comes in that must become your clear priority. Fortunately only 6% of companies are still operating in this manner.

The majority (68%) of these companies still using paper based dispatch are as one would imagine in the smallest bracket of companies, although examples of companies still using such a system are to be found right up to the 151 – 300 field engineers bracket. Given that their work schedule is largely static, and it is therefore hard for these companies to react to either emergency call outs or delays either on job or non transit, it is of very little surprise that we see that the most common complaint these companies receive from their customers is missing time slots which 40% of companies cite.

Text:

The most common way of companies to notify their workers of their job schedules is by Text. This is sensible as SMS is a relatively cheap, instant means of communicating and 41% of companies use this method. It could well be that this method will ultimately be replaced by “Via App” so communication becomes part of the wider ecosystem of the companies mobile workforce management program. This is of course ideal as it allows for both additional layers of information to be included, for example the details of the last call out, even photos etc., as well as easy navigation through to other systems. Currently however only 17% of companies are using this option.

It’s good to talk…

However, there are a huge amount of companies (34%) that are still using the phone to communicate work schedules. This does have it’s positives in that it can be flexible and you can update the work schedule on the fly according to how the day is progressing however, there are a number of distinct drawbacks. Firstly there is the issue of wasting resource. Talking on the phone takes time.

Studies from road safety charity BRAKE! Show that even hands free calls can be dangerous claiming an incredible 98% of motorists were unable to divide their time without it affecting their driving ability.

Not necessarily a lot of time, but still far longer than sending messages automatically from a field service management solution. And if you add up the amount of time that takes across your whole workforce, even if it is just 10 field workers that is a lot of time being used that needn’t be. Then there is also the issue of driver safety. Yes there are a number of solutions available to allow for hands free communication, however studies from road safety charity BRAKE! Show that even hands free calls can be dangerous claiming an incredible 98% of motorists were unable to divide their time without it affecting their driving ability.

In cab nav

There is an evolving movement towards being able to use one device per vehicle such as TomTom Telematics own PRO series of ruggedised tablet

It is interesting to see how few companies are using in cab navigation systems to communicate with their field workers. Only 2% of those surveyed are actually using this method. One reason for this may well be the proliferation of smart phones and or tablets now being used as primary mobile devices for field workers. Indeed there is an evolving movement towards being able to use one device per vehicle such as TomTom Telematics own PRO series of ruggedised tablets, which through the use of open API architecture can provide full access to w whole range of field service and fleet management tools.

As devices like this become more prevalent then having both a standalone in cab navigation devices and another device to run your field service software on simply becomes unnecessary.

If you want to know more about this research then you can access the full report by clicking this link.

In the part three of this exclusive series we will start to explore how the technology being deployed amongst field service organisations is impacting the levels of service they are capable of delivering…

This series is sponsored by: 

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