Field Service News recently undertook an exclusive research project, sponsored by TomTom Telematics to explore the standards of field service companies.
Across the last three features we have taken a close look at the findings of this research In part one which is available here we explored what technology was being deployed and identified a the have's and the have not's of the industry. In the second part of this series, which is available here we expanded on this by taking a more detailed looked at how companies are communicating with their employees in the field and why this is such a key component of getting it right when it comes to delivering service excellence.
In the third part we began to see patterns emerging that indicated a clear link between the levels of service a company can deliver and the technology that they employ. You can find this feature here
Now in the final part of this series we will look at exactly where field service standards are falling flat, exploring if there is a disconnect between our own perception of our service and our customers before drawing conclusions across the research results as a whole...
Measuring field service worker productivity
As we saw in the last segment of this series if we were to put together a report card for how our customers view service standards amongst field service companies then we would probably be looking at a ‘could do better’ scenario for the field service industries as a whole. [quote float="left"]Did those working in field service believe that their organisation at least was hitting the right notes of success when it comes down to meeting service expectations?
But how does this compare to how we measure our own field workers productivity? Is it a case that our customers expectations are rising rapidly and we are yet to adjust to these new demands? Did those working in field service believe that their organisation at least was hitting the right notes of success when it comes down to meeting service expectations?
We asked our respondents to identify their main KPIs that they set for their field workers given them the options of “number of calls attended”, “number of jobs completed”, “number of first time fix rates”, and “sales/leads generated”.
It seems that when it comes to marking our own performances, the field service industries are somewhat more forgiving than our customers with over three quarters of companies (77%) stating that they are generally meeting these KPIs. There is clearly a disconnect between the two realities which needs to be addressed, and it may seem we need to reassess what the standards are that we should be aiming for...
Are we setting the right KPI’s
Lets begin by taking a closer look at these KPIs that are being met in a little further detail... The most common KPI was number of jobs completed, which was cited by over half (54%) of our respondent field service companies. The importance of ensuring that wherever possible jobs are completed is of clear business benefit; especially if we understand that each additional call is going to not only cause our company additional cost but also add further frustration and potentially lost revenue for our customers also.
Therefore it is good to see that so many companies value this is as a KPI. [quote float="right"]Whilst the field service workers themselves may work hard to reach their daily rota of allocated calls, if they are not completing the jobs then all that hard work may as well count for nothing.Number of calls attended however, is less of an efficient measure, almost simply a tick box exercise. This is reflected in the fact that far fewer companies, in fact just 13% utilise this as a measure of their employees productivity.
Whilst the field service workers themselves may work hard to reach their daily rota of allocated calls, if they are not completing the jobs then all that hard work may as well count for nothing. It is absolutely vital that we empower our field service engineers to be able to complete as many jobs as possible.
Again the technology is there to improve these odds, systems that enable knowledge sharing, or access to parts inventory, or intelligently scheduling the right worker, with the right skill set required for the job are all widely available from a number of providers (such as our research sponsor TomTom Telematics) and these really massively improve your productivity levels.
Getting it right, first time - the field service mantra
This leads us on to the direction where many think the focus of the next generation of field service management will lay. That is the pursuit of a combination of preventative and planned maintenance and the accompanying increase on first time fix rates. Currently only 16% of companies set first time fix rates as a KPI. [quote float="left"]As we move towards a world of remote machine-to-machine diagnostics, the Internet of Things and 3D printable parts the first time fix should become less elusive and even commonplace.
In some ways this is a reflection of the current reality, first time fix rates are always desirable but rarely achievable.
The fix may be reliant on parts not to hand, or in some cases particularly where complicated machinery or devices are involved diagnosis of the exact problem may take the full allocated time slot. However, as we move towards a world of remote machine-to-machine diagnostics, the Internet of Things and 3D printable parts the first time fix should become less elusive and even commonplace.
Whilst these concepts may seem futuristic the reality is that they are not too far away, but even if they remain out of reach for now, initiatives such as improving customer communication, so we can start to get our customers to be part of the diagnostics program, are available and in many cases require just a simple shift in thinking as to how we approach service, to become part of the solution.
With this in mind it is really interesting to see that those companies who are currently embracing technology (i.e. using dynamic scheduling, intelligently responding to emergencies and use apps to communicate workloads to their field workers) have a much higher focus on first time fix rates with almost half of the companies in this bracket (47%) stating that this is their main KPI.
Incidentally 20% of these companies state that “number of jobs” completed is their main KPI It seems that the use of technology is allowing such companies greater productivity and the next evolution for these companies is to continuously try to improve their service standards, and improving first time fix rates is the logical progression which is of benefit to both customer and service supplier.
Our customers want our attention
There are a number of interesting points that this research has thrown up at us. Firstly there seems to be a big disconnect between the way we are judging the performance of our field workers, and the reality which our customers see.
When we put together the questions for this survey I genuinely felt that very few companies would have had people turning up at the wrong address, for companies whose workforce is based on the road this is surely the simplest of standards to meet, yet it seems it is not only a fairly common issue but a frequent one at that. [quote float="right"]Having a call centre is simply not enough in any industry these days. Our customers want our attention, they want it now, and they want to use their own preferred means of doing so whether that be phone, email, online chat or even social media.
Similarly for so many ‘service’ companies to be failing when it comes to perhaps the most important element of service i.e. communication was also a major surprise. It seems that customers and their expectations have evolved rapidly in the twenty first century and many if not the majority of service companies have fallen behind those expectations. Having a call centre is simply not enough in any industry these days.
Our customers want our attention, they want it now, and they want to use their own preferred means of doing so whether that be phone, email, online chat or even social media. We need to move quickly to accommodate these needs, because if we don’t you can be sure our competitors will.
However, all is not lost. The technology is their to help and it is no longer prohibitively costly as it was a few years ago. What’s more is as the technology evolves integration between differing systems means we can work with solutions that are tailored specifically for our business.
TomTom Telematics for example now have three separate API’s across their solution that allows for integration with a whole raft of other providers enabling you to tailor your solution to meet your exact needs. As TomTom Telematics Director Giles Margerison commented:
“There isn’t one off the shelf solution, it would be wrong to try and develop that because every company has their own specific needs.”
“What we as technology providers should do is make sure those systems integrate so customers can choose best of breed for their particular needs and we will work together for those customers.”
As has been shown on a number of occasions as we have gone through this research the technology available really can help companies keep pace with our customers growing demands as well as reduce costs and improve technology.
If we want to improve our report card for next year perhaps we need to start looking at how we can utilise it better?
If you want to know more about this research then you can access the full report by clicking this link.
This series is sponsored by