In the penultimate feature in our series of our excerpts from a new and exclusive Field Service News Essential Guide published in partnership with ServicePower we discuss how field service companies are able to overcome the many complexities fo the blended workforce model
As any field service management professional will attest, Field Service is a complex process with many, many moving parts. Adding in additional workforces into this mix will undoubtedly add further complexity. However, these challenges can be met by harnessing technology, technology that is built with such difficulties in mind.
Any service director reading this guide will know that making field service operations run smoothly can be a challenge at the best of times.
Field service involves a lot of moving parts to manage and from a systems perspective introducing the added complexity of multiple external workforces could seem almost unmanageable for many organisations. Yet, for those who do manage to implement the blended workforce model successfully, as we have seen there are significant benefits.
So how do these companies bring everything together in a way that makes the model not only manageable but also that affords the clear and transparent communications across the blended network that we saw was so critical in the previous chapter?
A large factor in the success of these organisations is having the right systems in place to ensure visibility across the whole work-cycle.
“It is imperative to make the investment in software to have that what I refer to as a communication hub that sits in the middle. For us, we utilize ServicePower to achieve that,” explains Steve Zannos, Senior Director Service Delivery, Electrolux.
“That is our communication hub between Electrolux and our independent service network It’s our way to communicate the need for work when a consumer calls us; it’s their way to share their calendar and availability with us.
It’s our way to say, ‘we’ve selected you, here’s your dispatch, and it’s their way to communicate back to us in terms of statuses throughout the job to give us the visibility we need.
“The complexities are centred around this hub that sits in the middle of all other systems. We have the CRM as a manufacturer where we’re taking calls and documenting them so there has to not only be the connection between Electrolux and our service network, but also between our CRM and ServicePower as well.
“Additionally, most of our independent service providers have some type of business management software (BMS) that they’re using. So they’re not, going directly into ServicePower, they’re using their system, and their system is then speaking with ServicePower.
“There are a lot of moving pieces in that communication, which have to be connected so the puzzle pieces fit perfectly.
“Another area we’ve begun to look at is what I call the ‘pizza tracker’. I call it this because it’s unbelievable that I know when Domino’s will come to my house.
Yet, still, I don’t know when a technician is going to come to my house. As we’ve started to get better at communicating to our customers, we’ve realized we need to do a better job integrating with our third-party service network as well so we know exactly what’s going on at all times.
“We had an extensive effort to make sure that mapping between ServicePower and the individual BMS systems that our service network use. We tackled the top service partners and we’ve remapped everything to make sure that all those connections are right. Now for the majority of the service that we run through the independent network, our statusing is just as timely as we get from our factory service team.
“We are now so comfortable and confident communicating this that we started to create a service portal for our consumers. Initially, we only provided that for our factory service team. Now we’ve got it open to all of our independent service providers because we’ve gotten that much better at knowing statuses and being able to communicate and work through the process.
“That is a critical piece of the blended workforce model. It is crucial to ensure you have that communication and that visibility, because when a consumer calls, they don’t want to know that you have to talk to someone else and it could take twenty-four or forty-eight hours to find out what’s going on with your job. Using ServicePower, we’re able to look at an individual job case and see that an independent service provider, has had an open call longer than expected.
“That type of visibility and communication is mission-critical when working with a third party network to make sure that you’re in sync, and we all know what’s going on. Then we can speak in one voice to the consumer.”
"We’ve provided a very simple way for the third-party service provider to status the job, so they can communicate whether they’re on route or if parts are on order, so the job is delayed. We’ve then integrated that job status application directly with our consumer portal application. Therefore, as soon as the third-party service provider updates that status, the consumer gets notified immediately."
- Samir Gulati, ServicePower
This ability to speak in one, consistent voice to the customer is not only best-practice, in today’s increasingly customer-centric world; it is becoming essential. Delivering consistently great service can be the difference between engendering customer loyalty or seeing your customer base walk away to your competition.
“In today’s environment, consumers are very demanding,” explains Samir Gulati, Chief Marketing and Product Officer, ServicePower.
“If you don’t give them job visibility, they’re just going to drop you. However, this is where technology can help.
“In our platform, we’ve provided a very simple way for the third-party service provider to status the job, so they can communicate whether they’re on route or if parts are on order, so the job is delayed. We’ve then integrated that job status application directly with our consumer portal application. Therefore, as soon as the third-party service provider updates that status, the consumer gets notified immediately.
“Also, many third-party service providers may not be able to provide their technicians’ GPS coordinates, because they don’t have that level of sophistication so instead they will update the ETA status of their job.
As an example, let’s say that they’re expected in a time window from two to four in the afternoon. However, they know that they’re going to be there roughly at 3:30 pm based on their travel schedule.
“They can update that ETA on our portal and a notification will be sent to the customer.
“Technology has gone a long way to providing that visibility and status updates to the consumer. What we’ve also done as a solution provider to the field service sector is we’ve integrated to other third-party systems that service providers use, so our platform can pull that status information and provide it to the consumer.
“Finally, we are building our own application at ServicePower to actually give to the third party service provider to manage their own business. As that application, called ServicePower Hub, gets rolled out in 2021, we will be able to house everybody on the same platform, and job visibility and statuses would become truly seamless.”
For Ideal Boilers, the use of technology is a massively vital cog in the wheel to run a blended workforce seamlessly and in a manner that allows them to meet the service standards they, and their customers demand.
“We heavily use our scheduling system to assist with managing the peaks and troughs, which it does very, very well,”Chris Jessop, Customer Service Director, Ideal Boilers, explains. “We use skill-based algorithms within that process to actually manage the split of the work.
“The key is, it’s got to be agile, there is no point having your own engineers idle and giving work to another organization within the model and by the same token, when you are using other elements of the hybrid workforce, you need to ensure that you’ve got the best and most appropriate skills going to the right party and they’re undertaking the right tasks so that as an organization, you get the best value possible out of the model.”
“The underlying system that we use for the scheduling is ServicePower which has the algorithms built within it.
“When it comes to systems interacting, we don’t insist that the other organizations use the same system as us. However, we are provided with updates, and we have a standard means for those updates to be delivered to us. One potential planned improvement we are currently exploring is whether to use a proprietary tool for providing access for the third parties to give us access to their diary systems so that we can do it via the reverse.
“This would allow us to see when they are available rather than them have to provide us with their availability, which at the moment is done through a mix of email and other interactions with the different organizations to understand that their capacity.
“Ultimately though, you have to have a consistent and robust way of getting the information out of everybody and onto the same system.”
"The key is, it’s got to be agile, there is no point having your own engineers idle and giving work to another organization within the model and by the same token, when you are using other elements of the hybrid workforce, you need to ensure that you’ve got the best and most appropriate skills going to the right party and they’re undertaking the right tasks so that as an organization, you get the best value possible out of the model."
- Chris Jessop, Customer Services Director, Ideal Boilers
Indeed, there are many moving parts, and there can be many disparate systems to connect. However, when it comes to identifying the critical components of any system that a field service company would require to implement a blended workforce model effectively, Gulati believes a series of essential points should be considered.
“For our customers, we give them one platform or one application to manage both their workforces,” explains Gulati.
“Five or ten years ago, most systems were ‘Oh, I’ll deal with your employed workforce, while there is this other system for the third parties. That’s not going to work anymore. It’s got to be one platform, one environment to handle both workforces, that’s important.
“If you are dealing with multiple systems, you will lose job visibility across them and you then you need to build some essential intelligence to be able to route work to one or the other workforce. This layer of intelligence is crucial because bad decisions can get made in the call centre if you do not build that intelligence into the platform.
“You’ve got to have a straightforward way to status your jobs during this process, whether It’s your employed workforce or your third-party technicians.
Remember, field workers, don’t like to be on their mobile devices or their laptops trying to status jobs all the time. You’ve got to make it easy for them if you want them to use the system.
“The fourth thing is that the customer engagement piece is critical. As a service provider, you have to notify the customer and keep them informed all the time.
Hence, you need an engagement platform where the consumer can see the status check with the service provider, and quickly get notified.
“The final element that is absolutely essential is to have the ability to report across your entire business. Our customers are constantly looking to how to optimize their workforces and to do that for the employed, and third-party reporting is critical. Our customers can see their costs and they can see their customer satisfaction rates across both those workforces and make informed decisions for the future.”
Ultimately, the technology is now there to empower field service companies to harness the blended workforce. However, having a system which is specifically designed with all of the added complexities this model entails really is a must if the process is to be truly seamless.
Want to know more?
Field Service News subscribers can access the Essential Guide to the Blended Workforce instantly by clicking the button below:
If you are yet to subscribe you can join 30,0000 of your field service management peers by subscribing to FSN Standard for free and get instant access to the documentary and other selected resources available on our free forever, FSN Standard subscription tier.
If you hold either a FSN Premium or FSN Elite subscription you can find the full interviews of those service leaders featured in this guide in our Digital Symposium section of the website which is available @ www.fieldservicenews.com/digital-symposium
Data usage note: By accessing this Essential Guide you consent to the contact details submitted when you registered as a subscriber to fieldservicenews.com to be shared with the listed sponsor of this premium content, ServicePower who may contact you for legitimate business reasons to discuss the content of this report.
- Read more about managing the mobile workforce @ https://www.fieldservicenews.com/blog/tag/managing-the-mobile-workforce
- Read more about the blended workforce @ https://www.fieldservicenews.com/hs-search-results?term=blended+workforce
- Read more about the impact of the pandemic on the field service sector @ https://www.fieldservicenews.com/en-gb/covid-19
- Discover this months selection of available resources on our FSN Standard subscription tier @ https://www.fieldservicenews.com/fsn-standard-resources
- Find out more about the solutions ServicePower offer @ www.servicepower.com/