A recent study by US firm Software Advice, a company offering comparisons and research for dispatch software, identified a number of insights into how the levels of service provided by home services are impacted by dispatching technology with GPS-enabled capabilities.
We spoke with Justin Guinn, the field service market researcher at Software Advice, who conducted the study and developed an in-depth report on the topic. We discussed how, when it comes to home service providers, common customer pain points can include lengthy arrival-time windows and waiting on late technicians. We dove into how GPS-enabled software offers a solution to these pain points by providing more effective scheduling, routing and dispatching.
Field Service News: Your new study shows the impact that scheduling has on customer satisfaction. What did you uncover?
Justin Guinn: Our study uncovered that accurate, strategic scheduling is imperative for successful field service businesses. We found that after a service provider is an hour late to an appointment, two-thirds of consumers simply won’t do business with that company again. In such a competitive market, this sort of customer attrition can kill a business.
Fortunately for service providers, proper scheduling, routing, and dispatching software directs technicians along optimised daily routes so that they most effectively get from appointment to appointment in a timely manner.
FSN: Things can always come up in the field. Is there something that service providers can do to retain those customers if they are running late?
JG: Interestingly, we found that 73 percent of consumers are more likely to rehire a provider if they receive a notification with an updated arrival time for the technician. Clearly customers expect punctuality, but this indicates they also just want to be kept in the know. We all greatly value our time, so this makes sense. This is why many field service software offerings feature automated text messaging capabilities that do just this.
FSN: So, technology can automatically help a business keep a loyal client base?
JG: Well, to maintain loyal customer base field service businesses first and foremost need to obviously deliver quality work with great customer service. Dispatching and scheduling software isn’t going to “fix” technicians with clumsy skills and/or crummy attitudes, but, like I mentioned, it does ensure punctuality and offer an effective remedy to late technicians. The software also enables applicable service segments to schedule repeat/recurring visits while onsite with customers, ensuring retention; some systems even act as a point of sale, allowing technicians to accept payment for the current job and any newly scheduled visits.
These capabilities above are great for increasing revenue and generating customer retention, but what about growing a field service business footprint? Dispatching and scheduling software plays an important role in achieving this growth by simply enabling technicians to get more work orders completed each day. We found that 95 percent of service business saw an increase in work orders completed per technician per day. Work orders equal customers, and the more customer interactions a service business can create, the more relationships they can build and the more chances for repeat business.
FSN: Apart from customer-facing benefits or the number of work orders per day, did you discover any other direct financial benefits of this kind of software?
JG: The other main benefit of this software comes into play by reducing overhead costs and expenses.
Our study showed that 89 percent of service companies see a decrease in fuel costs after adopting dispatching and scheduling software. It makes sense: optimised routing leads to less time spent on the road and less time spent sitting in traffic, thus less fuel being used. On top of that, our research shows that 95 percent of businesses see an increase in technician punctuality after implementing this kind of technology. This brings it back to the first point of getting mobile technicians to a job on time, thus retaining more customers.
Some of these systems can get even more granular by tracking technicians’ driving habits. For example, this capability allows the back office to see if a technician is accelerating too quickly, thus unnecessarily burning fuel. As a mobile workforce grows, so to does the impact of this feature. But no matter the workforce size, tracking and monitoring driving habits enables companies to increase safety by implementing and incentivizing driving best practices.
FSN: You had another recent report that found 54% of field service businesses don't use any software at all to manage their business. For that majority, why do you think they're hesitant to adopt technology?
JG: A likely reason that field service software adoption rates are so low is because companies/owners/managers might be intimidated by the many software choices. So instead of springing for software, they continue going about their manual ways until it eventually just becomes too much to handle. We talk to many field service operators everyday, and this is typically the predicament they’re facing.
They’ve been operating their business with “comfortable disorganisation,” but it’s taking a toll on their professional and personal life. That’s why we try to provide a personalised shortlist of products based on the needs of their business. In a sense, we’re typically the first step for field service operators to get their business in order and reclaim some sanity in their lives.