Marina Stedman, ClickSoftware brings us the concluding part of her feature looking at the multi-faceted challenges field service managers and supervisors face and a key philosophy in how to best serve customers…
In my last article for Field Service News, I outlined how our philosophy centres around helping service organisations answer five questions – the five Ws of field service, in order to best serve their customers and touched on the first of these Who does what.
Now let’s take a look at the remaining four Ws and why they are important for field service organisations.
W#2: With What?
Our second “W” is all about the tools. What tools are needed to complete the required actions?
Sending out field technicians qualified to fix a specific issue still can’t help if they don’t have the tools needed.
Not all mobile systems are created equal. A scheduling system that can send out an alert to a field supervisor that a field technician has been double-booked isn’t much help if it also doesn’t provide the tools to deal with that issue.
According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis on mobile deployments, implementing the right mobile tools and approach to field operations improves productivity 20 to 30 percent.
It also was found to decrease the time needed for field operations between 5 and 7 percent, which translated into saving millions of dollars each year.
We’ve already established that a mobile tool has to provide the functionality for a field supervisor to complete back-end and field tasks – all the “What”s of the field supervisor’s job. However, to achieve the kinds of operational improvements and cost savings possible, the right mobile tool has to meet two more criteria:
- Scope and speed to provide real time data. A field supervisor can only complete managerial and paperwork tasks remotely if they have reliable, up-to-the-minute data.The opposite is also true. They can only control field operations from the office if they can see what’s happening in the field.Accurate, real time information gives the field supervisor visibility into what’s happening on the ground. They can see that a field technician isn’t where the schedule says he should be and they can contact that field technician immediately. There are no more blind spots.
- Easy to learn; easy to use. One of the biggest reasons new software rollouts fail is lack of adoption by the end users. Much has been written about the consumerisation of B2B applications, and with good reason.Both field supervisors and technicians need their mobile apps to just work, or they won’t use them. Or at least, won’t use them well enough for the company to realise the expected benefits of having a mobile system.
W#3 and #4: When and Where?
These questions are the golden eggs of mobile because the right answers are “Whenever” and “Wherever.” Information or decisions needed in any given moment can be accessed or made in that moment. A speedy, full-function mobile app releases the field supervisor’s bottleneck in two ways:
- The distinction between “field” and “office” tasks becomes obliterated. Location no longer restricts what the field supervisor can do
- Because location no longer constricts the field supervisor, the field supervisor is no longer the bottleneck preventing other people from completing their tasks efficiently.
That holiday request? Once approved by the field supervisor on their mobile device, the system is updated in real time so the schedulers back at the office are aware of the change in capacity for that day.
An emergency service request comes into the office. The mobile field supervisor sees it, and can assign it to an available technician already nearby.
Now the customer gets same day service, and your company gets maximum utilisation out of a field technician who is kept fully scheduled during the day.
W#5: for Whom?
There are numerous stakeholders relying on field supervisors being able to stay on top of all their tasks and demands but for a service organisation, the most important “Who” is always the customer.
And who is the lynchpin between the field supervisor and the customer – the field technician.
By erasing the boundary between office and field tasks, the field supervisor gains time to spend on the most critical task: mentoring the field technicians.
When the field supervisor has more time to train and mentor the field technicians, you get happier, more qualified people. As their skills grow, they can complete more complex tasks and finish simple tasks faster, so you’re increasing your field utilisation potential without major increases in labour costs or staffing. Best of all, your field supervisors can spend more time mentoring field technicians without falling behind on the operational and managerial tasks the back-end stakeholders rely on.
Fast pace and high pressure make mobile the release valve
Applying the Five Ws of customer service for field supervisors means using mobile to empower them to carry out all their responsibilities regardless of location.
They need the ability to monitor and act in real time. When field supervisors don’t have to choose between sitting at a desk or being in the field, they can more efficiently carry out their roles by allocating their time and energy where it provides the highest return: mentoring and assisting field technicians to deliver enterprise -quality customer service.