Internet connectivity has become such an integral part of field service and as the Cloud becomes more prominent in the delivery of Field Service Management software having a fast reliable broadband connection at HQ is imperative. In the UK the...
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Internet connectivity has become such an integral part of field service and as the Cloud becomes more prominent in the delivery of Field Service Management software having a fast reliable broadband connection at HQ is imperative. In the UK the government has acknowledged this and made a grant available for smaller and medium sized companies to improve their broadband speeds. Andrew Gedny, Managing Director of NextGen Access who are working with the Government on this project explains more…
With fast, reliable broadband internet access becoming increasingly essential for businesses throughout the country the UK Government created the Super Connected Cities Programme (SCCP). With funding of £150m, businesses in 22 cities around the country can take advantage of this scheme to upgrade their access to the internet. The fund aims to support economic growth and jobs across the UK by improving Small and Medium sized businesses’ (SMEs) ability to access high-grade broadband.
In part this was a response to the lack of access to fast internet connectivity in many parts of the country including, surprisingly, the Tech City area of London. That part of the city, home to many companies requiring high speed data connectivity has been, surprisingly not that well served.
Working with the 21 City Councils and, through the Mayor of London’s office, all of the London Boroughs, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) will manage the distribution of this grant funding via a voucher scheme.
BDUK, part of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, was given responsibility for defining the qualifying rules and creating the application processes. Alongside companies such as NextGenAccess and the other scheme registered telecoms suppliers, BDUK is working to promote the programme and to inform SMEs about the business benefits of enhanced broadband connectivity.
How much is the Grant and what does it pay for?
Individual companies may apply for vouchers worth up to £3,000. This money can only be used to cover the costs of the improved Broadband connection, in other words just the capital and equipment costs of installing faster internet access. It cannot be used to pay for any ongoing service rental fees. The grant recipient is responsible for the VAT element of the connection charge as well as the subsequent monthly line charges levied by the telecoms provider delivering the service.
To qualify there needs to be a genuine and real change in broadband speed: this has been defined as being at least 30Mbps on a shared line or 20Mbps if a dedicated service is being provided on a dedicated basis. The other qualifying criteria is that the new speed must be at least double the previous one.
An interesting rule is that SME’s sharing a building may pool together their grant money and in doing so can collectively obtain a better level of service than they would otherwise get on their own. The only caveat to this is that the combined pool of money cannot exceed £20,000 except under exceptional circumstances. However that amount of money is usually sufficient to provide a very fast shared service. A single company applying may be able to install a 100mbit connection but if 3, 4 or more companies applied jointly then potentially they may be able to share a 1gbit connection for the same price.
Who Can Apply for the Grant?
Applicants for the grant must be:
- a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
- or a registered charity, social enterprise or sole trader.
In addition, an applicant must be located in one of the 22 participating cities, use a registered supplier and choose a high speed/ high grade connection.
The definition of a SME is defined as:
- Employing less than 249 people or volunteers
- Having a turnover of less than €50 (around £41m) and/or having a balance sheet of less than €43M (around £35.5M)
- Having received less than €200k in public grants in the last 3 years
- Not operating in sector which is excluded from the Scheme*
- Not having a parent company or linked enterprise which does not meet the eligibility criteria
The vouchers can be applied for until March 2015 but do not need to be used by then. More details on the full details of the eligibility criteria can be found at www.nextgenaccess.com/super-connected-cities
What does Superfast Broadband Deliver?
SME’s increasingly need high speed broadband connectivity to improve operational efficiency, remain competitive and maximise their addressable markets. As SMEs migrate additional services to the cloud, transfer and access more central data and collaborate with customers on projects, high speed, reliable business grade connectivity becomes a key business tool. The SCCP vouchers are designed to ensure that SMEs can access services that will drive the digital growth of the economy.
Over recent months, recruitment in the field service market has boomed, with a wealth of opportunities now on offer for field service engineers, managers, representatives as well as specialist roles. John Cameron, general manager, Trimble Field...
Over recent months, recruitment in the field service market has boomed, with a wealth of opportunities now on offer for field service engineers, managers, representatives as well as specialist roles. John Cameron, general manager, Trimble Field Service Management (FSM) looks a little deeper into this trend...
In line with this boom, field service organisations are seeking a new type of worker, one which has the necessary technical ability to carry out skilled and complex work but which also has the interpersonal attributes to deal with, and build a relationship with, the customer.
Trimble recently released a report, ’Transforming Service Delivery 2014 – An Insight Report’, which investigates the most pressing issues affecting fleet and field service organisations today. Interestingly, the report found customer centricity to be at the heart of field service business’ strategies and highlighted an era in field service where customer satisfaction, retention and profitability are intrinsically linked. As a result, organisations are revolutionising their strategies in order to conform to growing customer expectations.
A direct impact of this has been the role of the field service worker, which has shifted from one of operational necessity to strategic importance. Why this shift? Because today’s customer values one-to-one interactions and with the field service worker often being the only contact a customer will have with a company, the quality of service and information the field worker provides can be the only way for customers to measure the integrity, credibility, effectiveness and overall brand promise of the service-based organisation.
The emergence of a ‘new’ field service worker
Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service and third party expert cited in Trimble’s report, has found that having well trained and professional employees who are genuinely empowered to do their jobs is something that customers truly value.
“The biggest change we’ve seen in customer service,” Jo Causon explains, “is the move from a transactional economy to the relationship economy where value lies in one-to-one interactions and service leaders prevail in the marketplace. In a relationship economy companies that excel in customer service are increasingly able to cross into and disrupt marketplaces with a common purpose of changing the rules of engagement with the consumer and the employee, raising expectations of, and commitment to, service.”
With this shift, the skills agenda is becoming increasingly important as customers expect a greater level of engagement and real understanding of their needs. “Those organisations that concentrate on developing relationships rather than transactions will be the ones that are able to drive greater loyalty and commitment,” says Jo. “The types of new skills sets required are the ability to combine strong emotional intelligence, commercial acumen and technological awareness. All of which will be integral in an environment which is increasingly complex. There will be a growing challenge for organisations to bring together the required skills in order to deliver service experiences that are simple and intuitive and run across the organisation.”
Those organisations that concentrate on developing relationships rather than transactions will be the ones that are able to drive greater loyalty and commitment
Will Sambrook managing director of The Akenham Partnership and an additional expert cited in Trimble’s report, says of field service organisations, “I think a lot of organisations are often guilty of wanting people, especially young people, to arrive at the workplace ‘ready’ for the work and the culture and it’s not as simple as that.
“Businesses need to do more to engage with the colleges and schools showing students what they can expect from an organisation like theirs. What they can do in terms of getting themselves ready, demonstrate where their career can go in their industry.”[quote float="right"]Aberdeen found best-in-class companies were 35% more likely to use workforce management solutions such as performance management tools to optimise resources and workforce management processes.
But it is not just new starters in a company that need to be considered. It is essential that any changes being implemented to an organisation, whether it is rolling out new technology or processes or ways of working, are communicated thoroughly to the existing workforce. Engagement is essential for a successful outcome. Employees need to be fully prepared so that a culture can be fostered in which they understand the changes, why they are needed and how to embrace them.
Will Sambrook adds, “Board engagement is absolutely essential. But it is important that Boards do not believe they have to be all-seeing, all-doing or all-acting. Their role is much more about creating the line of sight, from the Board strategy to what’s happening in the organisation; the processes, the people, their engagement with the customer – everything is aligned.”
Retaining top performers
In terms of field service workers it is not just about focussing on those being recruited or going through change but also managing those in the business and doing the job every day. Best-in-class organisations understand the ramifications of having an undertrained, underqualified workforce. When a company sends a field service worker on a service call, the worker needs to resolve the issue the first time. According to Aberdeen, however, 26% of cases are not resolved on the first visit, requiring additional follow up visits. While this is not all down to skillset, it nonetheless erodes customer confidence and can reflect the need for worker training.
One way managers of field based workforces can manage performance is through the use of workforce management solutions which provide capabilities to evaluate field worker performance and determine who delivers the best results. Once managers identify best-in-class workers they should do what they can to retain them. Aberdeen found best-in-class companies were 35% more likely to use workforce management solutions such as performance management tools to optimise resources and workforce management processes.
For more information on the transforming landscape of customer service and associated change and skills gap download Trimble’s latest industry report, ‘Transforming Service Delivery: An Insight Report’ via the following link: www.trimble.com/fsm/insightreport
The Service Community’s Special Event attracted nearly 60 service professionals who were clearly up to the challenge of debating key service challenges whilst paying tribute to the legacy of Steve Downton, founder of the Community who lost his...
The Service Community’s Special Event attracted nearly 60 service professionals who were clearly up to the challenge of debating key service challenges whilst paying tribute to the legacy of Steve Downton, founder of the Community who lost his battle with cancer in January this year.
The generous host for the event was Unisys, coordinated by Alistair Martin, who ensured guests were treated to first class refreshments and facilities at the Customer Services Centre in Milton Keynes
Clara Downton, Steve’s second eldest daughter opened the session with a touching message from the Downton family reflecting on the spirit of the occasion and how proud Steve would have been to see the passion that was on show. Steve’s widow Kate, was guest of honour and engaged with old friends and new community members throughout the event.
The agenda had been deliberately paced to pack in many presentations and practitioner case studies to showcase the Community at its best. We were not disappointed.
“Transforming for Tomorrow” kicked off the presentations in earnest. Pitney Bowes’ Field Service Management Andy Beer and Mark King shared a fascinating case study of how they deployed a service application to avoid meaningless data and to provide real-time information to ensure that their field service team were truly optimised.
To follow this punchy opening, would take something special, luckily Mark Rawding of Coca Cola Enterprises was ready for the challenge. Mark’s insight into deploying technology for customer satisfaction, dovetailed perfectly with the Pitney Bowes’ experience. The key messages of Mark’s success were appropriate for a mobile application; focus on device selection and engage more with the customer. Both these opening presentations generated great interest from the audience, with pertinent questions and full engagement a true indicator that the sessions had nit the mark.
Martin Summerhayes picked up without missing a beat, deliberating about the reality of field service practices, describing what is known at Fujitsu as the ‘infinity loop’ of the service cycle
The penultimate presentation got underway, Martin Summerhayes picked up without missing a beat, deliberating about the reality of field service practices, describing what is known at Fujitsu as the ‘infinity loop’ of the service cycle. His interactive style ensured that Martin gained optimal feedback as he demonstrated why he has been invited to speak on several occasions at the Service Community events.
Incredibly after what was aptly described as a ‘marathon sprint’ the final presentation was underway. Graeme Coyne of Siemens hit a chord as he described the challenges of inspiring the next generation of Service Engineers and producing a powerful service operation. The audience responded energetically, asking hard hitting questions about how to relate to young people in a way to attract them into the service industry. It was a lively conclusion to the formal presentations and generated relevant content for a future meeting.
This packed Special Event easily delivered on its objectives, whilst the energy and involvement of the guests certainly demonstrated that active participation is the only type that matters. Chris Farnath of Allocate Software chaired the event and wrapped the formal session. As indicated ahead of the event, he then invited interested guests to debate the future direction of the Service Community. As a testimony to the success of the proceedings, nearly three quarters of the guests remained for the break-out session, where it became very clear, very quickly that the Service Community had relevance, longevity and a unique position to offer service professionals.
The content of the meetings is the life-blood of The Community, followed closely by the generosity of participants to offer facilities and key skills such as PR, marketing promotion or other services that will keep The Service Community alive. To this point, the next event is scheduled for September – date to be confirmed.
Zero-hour contracts have long been a contentious issue, with arguments back and forth about why they are or aren’t good for both business and employees. And it looks like an issue that isn’t going away anytime soon. Robert Williams, VP Sales,...
Zero-hour contracts have long been a contentious issue, with arguments back and forth about why they are or aren’t good for both business and employees. And it looks like an issue that isn’t going away anytime soon. Robert Williams, VP Sales, UK&I, ClickSoftware explains more...
Just recently the Business Secretary Vince Cable announced a ban on exclusivity contracts in a bid to give employees the opportunity to seek additional work elsewhere. It had meant if people were working on zero-hour contracts, they couldn’t seek additional work, inevitably leaving some people short if they didn’t get enough hours from that employer.
So why are zero-hour contracts such a contentious issue and is it simply a case of employers looking to have the most efficient workforce possible?
Well first and foremost it isn’t just an argument around employers being right or wrong to use them. The real point of conversation is how beneficial they are in the long-run. Of course you get the instant saving on resource by reducing your commitment to long-term staffing costs. But what if you sign a big piece of business or a product flies off the shelves faster than you can replenish the stock. The major business around zero contract hours is that they are rarely based on long-term forecasting, leaving companies vulnerable for changes in their market which, with some decent planning, can be accounted for in a good forecasting model.
Now it is also true that you cannot have a bloated workforce that is operating inefficiently just in case resource is needed. I suspect many businesses have been operating this way for years and adopted zero-hour contracts to counterbalance a huge excess in the level of resource and productivity. Yet going from one extreme to the other isn’t the best way to solve this problem. Instead, there should be a middle ground whereby careful analysis is conducted and factored into a detailed resource plan.
This plan could then identify where zero-hour contracts have a continual benefit for both employer and employee. For example, if you are a business which traditionally sees seasonal peaks and troughs in the level of resource coupled with personnel that tend to be short term and high churn, then zero-hour contracts are absolutely a viable option to ensure you have the most optimised staff possible.
You cannot have a bloated workforce that is operating inefficiently just in case resource is needed
This does entail a central planning function which can identify these incidents and then be capable of implementing the new staffing solutions, but this is something successful companies are doing. Having all of this in place will give you an optimised and diversified workforce that is equipped to change with the market. So if one section needs to be upscaled, then that can be taken from another part of the business where it is less critical.
With this best practice in place the benefits of having an engaged and motivated workforce will become apparent. The days of a job for life may be coming to an end, but you can still certainly engender a sense of loyalty from staff whilst they are there. Planning the way they are deployed and in which roles, is a primary way of doing this.
For employers, the good news is that technology has never been able to offer them more insights than it does today. From timesheets to smart devices, there is a whole range of data that can be crunched and fed into a system that comes up with the best answer. It’s new of course, and not absolutely perfect, but is surely a wiser path to take than simply employing too many people or using zero-contract hours to provide a rudimentary solution on a week-by-week basis.
Research commissioned by customer service specialists KANA Software suggests many organisations are overlooking the potential for customer service improvements that could drive revenue.
Research commissioned by customer service specialists KANA Software suggests many organisations are overlooking the potential for customer service improvements that could drive revenue.
The survey of UK Contact Centre Association (CCA) members included a diverse mix of industry sectors, from financial services, to local government and retail. It reveals that only 40 percent (39.6 percent) believe senior management places a clear focus on customer service as a way to drive revenue; noting one-fifth of respondents (20.8 percent) think there is little or no focus on customer service at a senior level.
The survey also found that the majority of respondents are unconvinced of the link between customer service and the bottom line. Well below half (41.5 percent) take a keen interest in revenue loss resulting from poor customer service. According to the data, one-in-10 management teams pay no attention to the financial implications of a poor customer service experience.
Improving quality and reducing the “cost to serve” are currently seen as primary challenges in today’s organisations. The research also highlights what call centre agents perceive as key barriers to providing a better service: outdated systems, lack of investment, agent skills gaps and a lack of understanding or support at a senior level.
“Unfortunately, the contact centre is often seen as an operational expense and nothing more,” says Steven Thurlow, head of worldwide product strategy for KANA. “Often, senior management will review functional aspects, such as speed of handling times and resolution times. This approach is unlikely to drive further investment and instead maintains a focus on efficiency above all else. Fast service and good customer experiences are not always the same thing. Strategic investments in people, processes and the technology platforms that can aid them should be considered by the C-suite and across organisations.”
Thurlow adds, “The commercial value of an effective call centre, balanced against mitigating and eliminating the potential damages of poor customer service, should not be overlooked. A contact centre is not an unavoidable cost – it can be an invaluable tool.”
Dave Hart, vice president of global customer transformation at ServiceMax provides a tale of two field service companies and how listening to your field service techs is not only easier than ever but more important than ever also...
Dave Hart, vice president of global customer transformation at ServiceMax provides a tale of two field service companies and how listening to your field service techs is not only easier than ever but more important than ever also...
Here’s a tale of two field service companies — one that figured out how to build better products by tapping into their technicians’ on-the-ground experience, and another that didn’t and then paid the price.
First, the company that stumbled: Years ago, I worked for a manufacturer that released an update to one of its most popular products. There wasn’t anything wrong with the existing version: it was easy to use, rarely broke down and, when it did, it was simple to fix. The “new and improved” version, however, wasn’t well-designed and didn’t work as well. Our field service techs were left scratching their heads. “How could we get everything so right with one product and then so wrong with the next?,” they asked.
The lesson? Your service techs know your company’s products the best — even better than the customers do.
Now, for a different story: A large healthcare technology company has installed a knowledge management system on the smartphones, tablets and other assorted devices its tech carry with them on the road. The techs document what they and the customers experience with the products day in and day out. The information is delivered to the company’s product development team for consideration when updating the system — or even creating a new product altogether.
The lesson? Your service techs know your company’s products the best — even better than the customers do. They are on the ground every day and hear what customers like, and don’t like, about the product. They develop an intuitive sense for what can (and probably will) go wrong.
The Power of Data Collection in the Field
Unfortunately, the story of a product rollout that didn’t go according to plan is more the rule than the exception. The strange thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Collaboration between field service techs and product teams, such as R&D, has never been easier. Field techs carry smartphones, tablets and laptops in the field Communication apps such as Salesforce Chatter, Skype and Apple Face Time make it simple, fast and efficient for product developers to work with field service techs.
So while companies are embracing knowledge management systems on mobile devices, they’re not capitalising enough on the information that gets collected. The operations side see the real-time updates about product glitches or common customer gripes, but the research and development side doesn’t. That’s a huge missed opportunity.
Consider the healthcare company that I described above as the exception. So far, the company has collected more than a thousand product suggestions from field workers who use its mobile knowledge management technology. Both the technical support and product teams vet the suggestions, and share the most informative ones with the rest of the company.
How Service Tech Feedback Can Boost the Bottom-Line
Here’s a basic example of how technology-enabled collaboration between service techs and product developers can improve business. Say that a product has a fundamental problem or part that needs to be regularly replaced. Field techs can often spot design flaws that, if corrected, would reduce maintenance and repair times. If a product developer can look at a product from the tech’s perspective, everyone benefits — the company, its customers and the techs who service the equipment.
Multiply that across multiple products and service calls and you start to see the time and money savings. There’s an added benefit, too: like all employees, service techs want to be heard. Giving them a strong voice in how the products they work with every day are created goes a long way toward engaging them in all aspects of the business.
The healthcare company is a prime example of how companies can tap into their technicians’ vast product knowledge. Every field service company should follow its lead.
Continuing his series looking at case studies of how service companies adapt their culture to improve their productivity Nick Frank, service management consultant with Noventum Service Management looks at how happiness became a key tool for Dutch...
Continuing his series looking at case studies of how service companies adapt their culture to improve their productivity Nick Frank, service management consultant with Noventum Service Management looks at how happiness became a key tool for Dutch firm Hutten...
It sounds so obvious that people are the key to any business change, so why do we often overlook their importance. Is it because managers are so wrapped up in their strategies and actions plans, that they forget talking to customers and employees requires a different kind of language? That the ‘just get it ***** done!’ mentality does not achieve the results they want.
Whatever the reason, the lesson we learn time and time again is that it’s your ‘people that make you stand out from the crowd’. So how do you then make sure that people development and communication is a key part of your plan.
Some companies take a very novel approach. Take Hutten, a leading Dutch kitchen service provider. Pascal Verheugd their HR director told us about their unique approach;
“Most companies, particularly in Holland, are driven by productivity and profit margins. Here at Hutten, we thought differently. We wanted to position happiness as the central driver within our company.
Working from the ground up, we engaged with all team members to develop our mission to promote the values of happiness, collaboration, transparency and sustainability across our organisation. This was not just a top down initiative, and neither was it only internally generated. Our partners, suppliers and clients are key stakeholders, so these values were generated also considering their input from the outside in.
This ‘happiness vision’ could have been difficult to justify on board level but in our case, the CEO, Bob Hutten and I were singing from the same hymn sheet. We were both of the belief that social innovation should be the most important goal for every company and that managing targets, bonuses and profitability simply isn’t enough.
People have to want to work for you. If they share the same values internally and are happy working together then it stands to reason that their happiness will create better productivity and that this will filter through to customers in the end.”
Now this may be a very different approach, but I am sure there is a lesson here for us all in both our professional and work lives!
So if you are interested to know more more about the importance of people in achieving your goals, you can get more information from this link, or you can sign up for our next UK Service Executive Leadership Course in September, where you will get an opportunity with your peers to develop your thoughts on people and leadership…and perhaps have a a bit of fun yourself.
Customer requirements for field service and customer support will never be the same from one country to another, any more than they will be the same from one customer to another. However, one thing remains very clear – the requirements for...
Customer requirements for field service and customer support will never be the same from one country to another, any more than they will be the same from one customer to another. However, one thing remains very clear – the requirements for service are becoming increasingly standardised, even on a global basis. Bill Pollock President of Strategies For GrowthSM explains more...
The above is particularly true as more and more local services organisations are going regional, regional organisations are going national, and national organisations are going international in terms of their sales, marketing and global services capabilities.
Just a few years ago, only the largest services organisations had credible worldwide global service and support portfolios. However, today, mainly through the proliferation of Cloud-based technologies; Internet, tablet and social media tools; and the increasing use of strategic alliance partners, even the small and medium-sized services organisations are finding themselves empowered to support their customers on a global basis.
Still, the perceptions of what it might take to be a “world class” global services provider remain inconsistent even among some of the most sophisticated vendors. However, regardless of each individual organisation’s approach or perceptions, it can safely be said that services requirements are both every bit the same, and every bit different, in each corner of the globe.
“More and more local services organisations are going regional, regional organisations are going national, and national organisations are going international in terms of their sales, marketing and global services capabilities.”
As most individual businesses continue to grow larger, and larger businesses continue to acquire, merge and consolidate, there will be increasing pressure on global services providers to grow along with their customers’ needs for a broader and more sophisticated range of services – both in terms of breadth and scope (e.g., a full array of professional services in addition to traditional break/fix and help desk support, etc.) and geographic coverage (e.g., cross-border capabilities).
The conventional wisdom is that some of the services providers that presently offer very high levels of service and support, but only among the basic, or “core”, types of services, or only in a limited geographic area, may actually end up losing out to other, less high performing providers that offer a wider array of services over a larger geographic (i.e., global) area.
The general rule of thumb among customers is often, “why settle for varying or erratic levels of service and support over the whole of our enterprise by relying on the use of multiple vendors, when we can ensure a more standardised mode of delivery – all at satisfactory levels – provided across our entire system?”
While the former mode of service delivery may range from “excellent” to “average” depending on the type of service provided, or the location of the end user, the latter mode generally assures that, at least, there will be consistent levels of service provided enterprise-wide – i.e., with no geo-by-geo “surprises”.
In today’s services environment, the true measure of a provider’s ability to adapt to its marketplace is no longer answered strictly in terms of how well it can deliver different types of support to different types of customers, but in how well it can provide desired levels of service and support to each of its customers, regardless of their size, industry segment or geographical location.
As such, the word “global” should no longer simply conjure up images of field technicians trudging through the wilds of the Great Australian Outback, or cross-country skiing to a remote IT site through a harsh Canadian winter terrain (although this may also be the case from time to time), nor should it be interpreted solely as fostering a company mentality of trying to be “all things to all parties”.
Rather, “global” should be defined as “offering the full complement of desired services and support, either directly or through strategic services partnerships, to support the full enterprise-wide needs of the customer.”
It has taken the services industry the last century to get to the point to where it is today. However, it will be around this definition of “global service" and support that the future of the industry will likely be based. Where it will ultimately take us will, as always, be heavily dependent on how the services marketplace believes its providers are responding to its “global” needs.
As part of Trimble Field Service Management's recent event "The Big Debate" Will Sambrook of The Arkenham Partnership looks at how important the board is in implementing change for field service organisations as well as discussing sharing data...
As part of Trimble Field Service Management's recent event "The Big Debate" Will Sambrook of The Arkenham Partnership looks at how important the board is in implementing change for field service organisations as well as discussing sharing data within an organisation and what the key changes required to implement a successful change
In recent years, the battle to improve operational efficiency in field service has been hard fought with businesses constantly looking for new ways to do more with fewer resources. As a result, business leaders are being forced to critically...
In recent years, the battle to improve operational efficiency in field service has been hard fought with businesses constantly looking for new ways to do more with fewer resources. As a result, business leaders are being forced to critically examine the way their organisation works and look for new ways to deliver the competitive edge required to thrive in today’s marketplace.
Customer Service vs. Cost
71% of field service organisations use customer satisfaction as the main metric to measure the performance of their business. However with an increased focus on service excellence, yet reduced customer spending and a squeeze on profit margins, companies must find ways to balance service delivery with the cost.
One way organisations can look to achieve this balance is through ‘getting it right first time’. The most common customer complaint is when a technician does not resolve the issue first time. This may be due to not having the right part or tools, not having the right skills or not enough time to complete the job .
Issues like this can be avoided if companies focus on their productivity by taking a bird’s eye view of the end-to-end process. They need to know what the problem is, who is qualified to solve it, notify them of the task, know where they are, when they will arrive and when the job is done. Taking these necessary steps to avoid a return visit will maintain productivity and ensure customer satisfaction.
“Customer Service is a strategic issue,” says Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service. “If organisations do not include it in the boardroom then some of those organisations won’t be around in the longer term.”
Managing Mobile Resources in Field Service Delivery
Managing a large field service operation today is filled with complexity, from managing the people to the assets, vehicles and jobs. Research shows that workforce management is one of the biggest areas of concern in field service and with much field-based work becoming increasingly complex and critical in terms of timing, skills and consequence, more importantly than ever companies need to ensure that their field service is not derailed by unpredictable dynamics of the working day.
The biggest and most repetitive challenge facing organisations managing a mobile workforce is cost and this is closely related to the following secondary challenges:
- The role of the technician in the business - with a proven link between customer satisfaction, retention and profitability, how the technician interacts with the customer can be significant in the customer experience.
- Measuring service performance - ultimately you need to understand what has happened and you want to know that ‘now’ to use that data to enable real-time decision-making.
- Managing change and embedding best practice - organisations often wrestle with change whether it is new technology, new people, new policy or new assets. Finding a way to embed change and making sure that best practice is shared across the workforce is a key success factor.[/unordered_list]
The importance of Measuring Field Service Performance
As the business adage goes, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” and this has never been truer when it comes to the performance of field service organisations.
A field service operation is extremely dynamic and often unpredictable. Each day, managers are faced with complex issues which require fast action. However lack of real-time visibility into what is happening in the field can result in managers making poor decisions; directly impacting the performance level of their workforce. Indeed, performance management and visibility were cited as being key areas of concern for field service organisations .
In order to improve operational decision-making, field service managers must begin to utilise instant and accurate information about key trends occurring in the field. Real-time data about why a service window wasn’t met, how many planned jobs were left incomplete, duration of tasks and which technicians are performing well, can all be used to drive service performance levels and transform the way work is planned, allocated, managed, reported and evaluated.
Turning data into information
In recent years, field service organisations have been overwhelmed by the flow of information coming in from multiple sources, in various formats and through an array of tools. The major challenge they face is how to make sense of the massive amounts of data in order to extract valuable insights to help hone day-to-day operations and make long-term strategic decisions.
In a recent Trimble survey, the main concern with using data from the field was the reliability of the information. Performance Management Analytics (PMA) has come to the fore as a solution able to tackle this challenge by giving managers the ability to review a day’s work and measure performance results against specific metrics. For example, they can identify the most productive performers, determine which schedules and routes produce the best results and compare results from one vehicle or worker against the entire workforce.
Implementing successful change to better engage workers
When a company is implementing any change to the way it works, whether it is rolling out new technology or processes or ways of working, engaging the workforce is the key for success.
“Board engagement is absolutely essential,” says Will Sambrook, Managing Director of The Akenham Partnership. “But it is important that Boards do not believe they have to be all-seeing, all-doing, all-acting. Their role is much more about creating the line of sight, from the Board strategy to what’s happening in the organisation; the processes, the people, their engagement with the customer – everything is aligned.”
Using Technology & Tools
It widely acknowledged that technology is a key enabler to being able to deliver service excellence. Indeed, 70% of field service companies believe the key to achieving strategic business goals is having the latest field service technology in place.
Some of the future technology trends set to make an impact on field service organisations include:
- Increased integration of M2M
- Profit-Driven Analytics
- Knowledge Management shaping strategy
- Leverage of Mobile Apps
- Cloud-Driven Transformations
- Data-Driven Productivity
- Growth of rugged mobility
For further insight into how to transform your field service operations, catch Trimble’s Caroline Pennington, Market & Analyst Manager and editor of Trimble’s recently-launched publication, Transforming Service Delivery: An Insight Report, at this months’ Service Management Expo. Caroline will be exclusively presenting some of the key trends and issues highlighted in the publication at 12pm on 17th June. Complimentary copies of the report will also be on offer at Trimble’s stand O1470.