All businesses are faced with daily challenges. There are sales to generate, profits to be made and bills to pay. The field service industry, however, has some unique challenges in that many of these operations have vast territories and their employees are distributed in many locations. Having operations that extend beyond the four walls of an office makes the organization vulnerable to challenges in many areas including:
With a mounting list of work requests, it’s vital for dispatchers and managers to know where their field service personnel are located and what their availability is at any given time. Field employees need to check in and report their availability first thing in the morning and then throughout the day as they complete assignments. By knowing the location of the field personnel, dispatchers and managers can better gauge how they can prioritize and complete pending work. They can also make decisions on whether to bring in contract assistance to supplement the workload.
Missing Inventory and Inaccurate Data
Until recently, inventory tracking and data collection was accomplished in the field primarily through a series of forms and reports. Human error, lost paperwork, lack of timeliness and even weather-related challenges plagued this manual system.
In a perfect scenario, each vehicle would leave in the morning with all the parts and equipment needed for the day. Upon completion of each job, the field employee would head to the next closest location still equipped with everything needed for the job until all the tickets were closed for the day. Wasted trips to the office or warehouse are a widespread productivity and profit-killer resulting in higher operating costs, inefficient scheduling and frustrated customers. While varied in their reasons, common reasons for treks back to the office include inaccurate parts inventory, a need for cataloged parts and equipment and technology issues.
Missed Sales Opportunities
Field employees get an up-close look at how customers use an organization’s products or services and often know what might improve their experience. But if they aren’t equipped to sell or at least update your sales team with up-to-date information, you might be leaving sales on the table.
Field service automation solutions can help in several areas to address these challenges. The automation process can automatically assign resources based on their location, availability, skill level and job priority. Automation addresses these challenges at once by reducing travel time, knowing the location and availability of resources and using the right skill set for the job. Also, automation solutions can organize the dispatch desk so that work flows smoothly from one job to the next. While all businesses have challenges, the field service industry has some unique obstacles. With the right automation tools and systems in place, field service companies can run a well-organizes business and keep expenses under control. Ongoing training is essential for any field service employee whether product, equipment or customer service training. Training enables employees to stay current with the latest information and techniques, providing them with the resources to perform their jobs to the highest standards.
About the author:
Olivia is a content producer at ClickSoftware field service management, a company which also offers a variety of resources on capacity planning and mobile business apps.