Field service organisations (FSOs) are increasingly relying on a wide range of performance metrics, and higher-ups in these businesses are often adept at using analytics software to pinpoint areas of strength and weakness. This information can then be used to inform things like customer service training, resulting in improved performance.
However, the metric that is now most important for companies operating in this way is one that is not always given the attention it requires – time. Indeed, the ClickSoftware 2017 Field Service Report found that just three percent of FSOs cite response times as their top measure for success. Here, we explore the reasons why this should change.
The single biggest reason why time is so important for FSOs is because it is important to their customers. In fact, the aforementioned ClickSoftware report revealed that, globally, more than 60 percent of customers indicate that waiting a long time for a visit after making a field service appointment made for a poor customer experience.
Similarly, 59 percent of customers were most unhappy about being allocated long arrival time windows by field service suppliers. Customers want to know when engineers are arriving and they want FSOs to be as specific and accurate as possible. More than half of customers say that an engineer arriving late makes for a bad experience.
This data offers valuable insight into the various ways time can be a source of major frustration for customers. It is also evidence that, for FSOs, customer service courses should place an emphasis on time management. According to Software Advice, 95 percent of those using field service management software to measure time achieve greater punctuality.
While pure response time is a vital metric – after all, customers do not want to have to wait longer than necessary, because it could mean they are without important equipment – FSOs should also try to reduce the amount of time customers waste on waiting for engineers to arrive. Real-time communication is one way this can be achieved.
Through the use of real-time communication, arrival windows can be significantly reduced, meaning customers can spend less time waiting around and more time getting on with other things. For this reason, customer service training should provide guidance on how to communicate effectively, using the latest methods, like company mobile apps.
Despite this, the ClickSoftware report exposed the fact that 45 percent of suppliers claim they are currently unable to communicate in real-time and almost 60 percent are still using the telephone to communicate, rather than apps. This is despite there being universal agreement among customers that real-time communication is a major benefit.
The Internet of Things
Aside from enhancing communication, another way field service organisations can improve their various time-related metrics is through the use of the ‘Internet of Things’. Essentially, this refers to internet-enabled computing devices being inserted into everyday things, allowing them to send and receive data.
This means that a device can be set up to communicate with FSOs, without any need for customers to get involved. This gives FSOs the potential to respond to technical problems before a customer informs them, or even before a customer notices an issue, significantly reducing waiting time, or eliminating waits entirely.
“Rather than reacting to customer requests, FSOs can proactively offer services before a customer calls to report an issue,” explains Megan Assarrane, writing for Microsoft Dynamics 365. “The device can automatically inform FSOs of poor performance, which reduces downtime for your customer’s organization.”
Field service organisations use a lot of different metrics to analyse their performance, but often give an insufficient level of priority to the issue of time, despite it being a major issue for customers. In the modern age, it is essential that time-related metrics are tracked, that FSOs work on reducing response times and making their arrival windows more accurate, and that customer service courses focus on how to use IoT and modern communication technology.