5 Ways to Effective Field Service Workforce Management

Injecting efficiency in field service is usually seen as a means to cut back on service cost and to drive greater productivity from field workers. Yet most organizations haven’t yet understood the link between a more effective and efficient field service organization and improved customer satisfaction and profitability results.

In recently published Aberdeen research, organizations with an 80 percent level of first-time fix and above experienced far greater customer satisfaction and retention scores when compared with those that averaged a sub-50 percent level of first-time fix. More so, the more efficient organizations experienced a 26 percent out-performance in service profitability.

Improving field service efficiency and overall field performance requires a comprehensive review of field service workforce management.

This doesn’t just mean better scheduling. Scheduling is one piece of a broader puzzle that ranges from point-of-service information provided to field agents, to training and hiring practices with regards to field workers.

The old saying that effective field service is all about having the right technician at the right place with the right parts at the right time with the right tools requires a little rework. Here’s how:

1. Right Technician

Old Definition: The best technician is the closest technician or the one best aligned from a coverage area perspective.

New View: To develop the right workforce, organizations need to:

  1. Understand skill set gaps in the workforce and use that information to drive better hiring and training decisions.
  2. Allocate tasks to technicians based on skill and qualifications if the aim is to improve customer satisfaction and field service efficiency.

2. Right Place

Old Definition: Focus on on-time arrival tied to GPS-based navigation.

New View: To better service customers, organizations should:

  1. Use data to understand and predict high-demand areas and allocate resources accordingly.
  2. Allocate preventive tasks while technician is onsite for service (task bundling).

3. Right Time

Old Definition: Focus on arriving within a 4-8 hr service window.

New View: Prevention is better than reaction. Organizations should analyze information (service, machine, customer) to predict failures and arrive prior to an actual service event.

4. Right Parts

Old Definition: Allocation decisions of service tasks are tied to an estimate of tech’s truck stock.

New View: To improve field service efficiency, organizations need to:

  1. Emphasize better diagnosis at the time of initial call to determine if dispatch is needed or part can be shipped directly for self-service.
  2. Allocate tasks to technician based on real-time part availability or the ability of the technician to access the necessary part via a depot or another technician.

5. Right Tools

Old Definition: Technicians are equipped with manuals and forms to complete service work. If automated, mobile solutions focus more on work order management.

New View: Technicians are empowered with dynamic information at the point-of-service. The focus is on resolution as opposed to just the removal of paperwork. Information provided is tied to:

  • Work-order information
  • Service history information
  • Resolution knowledge (knowledgebase, resolution procedures, dynamic content)
  • Schedule and time and expense management

To learn more about this new (or re envisioned) framework for field service management, download Aberdeen’s Fixing First-time Fix research.

Aberdeen’s team will also be sharing some results at the Field Service 2013 Conference on April 22.

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