Best practices for optimising field service operations
Top eight tips covering all aspects of the industry!
Management of a company offering field services is almost impossible if you don’t plan out every step of your operations. From coordinating schedules to tracking equipment, you need to make sure your business focuses on unparalleled organisation and connectivity. Optimisation is an essential element of this dynamic industry.
So what is the ideal way to improve service operations? How to make the daily job easier for employees and field agents? In this article, our guest author, Jen, shares a list of some recommendations to achieve smooth functioning-
#1 Focus on data collection and management to determine issues
A recent case study funded by the equipment manufacturer Intermec revealed that over 90 percent of field service professionals find that access to accurate performance data is vital to operational and financial success.
No matter how well-trained your employees are, your operations will most likely fall apart if you don’t collect and analyze data.
Performance data includes essential information such as average response times and any workflow issues bottle-necking your operations.
A good data management platform will help you with this. Once you can identify the patterns, it is easy to adjust schedules and make other changes to improve efficiency and provide better customer service.
#2 Improve your response times
Quick response times will be vital to your company’s success, and a single hiccup in your workflow will cause unhappy clients and lost business opportunities.
It is advisable to keep response times to an absolute minimum as long as you continue to keep a close eye on patterns and trends. To improve the average response time, invest in the right tools and tactics including:
- Automated responses to emails, texts, phone calls, and social media messages.
- Real-time monitoring for your fleet and field service personnel.
- Field service management software for operators and team leaders.
- Open lines of communication between clients and field service personnel.
- Service level agreements to maintain priority.
#3 Encourage collaboration
If you want to ensure your company stays one step ahead of the competition, you need to encourage collaboration between your staff.
When a field service team member has a question or runs into a problem, instant access to other employees will be godsent. Besides text messages and emails, also look at mobile apps and cloud storage services.
There are dozens of high-quality collaboration apps on the market promoting field service management best practices. Look and experiment with a few different programs to see and choose the the best options for your team. Cloud storage services will be important, and you must train your employees on how to use cloud technology if you want unparalleled collaboration.
#4 Improve communication between the sales team and the field workforce
It is an unfortunate fact that many managers and business owners never even consider the importance of interdepartmental communication.
The sales team will probably never come into contact with your clients, and that disconnect could impact your business. They aren’t going to fully understand your customers’ needs and concerns unless they communicate with your field personnel.
That is why every member of your sales team should fully understand your operations and follow the same field service management best practices. You also need to be sure that your field employees have been trained to ask the right questions and address concerns when meeting with clients.
Creating and maintaining a rich knowledge-base is also helpful. Even the new members can get used to the system and processes by using it.
#5 Optimise and improve workflow
Constant optimization of workflow is an attribute that all successful businesses have in common.
An example of that would be a company like Toyota and its contribution to car assembly lines. Assembly lines revolutionised the 20th century and made the mass production of goods economically viable.
Henry Ford may have been the father of modern assembly lines, but Toyota was the one to streamline the manufacturing process years later by minimising waste and maximising the potential of each employee.
No matter what industry you are in, many of those same principles can be applied to your operations. That will start with well-trained managers and dispatchers who can optimise routes, improve response times, and monitor external variables such as traffic patterns and inclement weather.
Thanks to technology, modern applications have features for route optimisation, automated actions and timely alerts to drive efficient outcomes.
#6 Keep an eye on monthly and yearly trends
Your field services could fall apart if you don’t keep a close eye on the monthly and yearly trends.
While your operations probably won’t drastically change from one day to the next, notice at least a few patterns over the years. From annual sales and community events to weather patterns and road construction, you need to consider every variable that might affect your company.
Failing to take those trends into account is going to negatively impact your response times and potentially bring your operations to a grinding halt.
#7 Don’t ignore preventive maintenance
Preventive maintenance can be a major expense, but it is an important task that must never be ignored.
In the long run, preventive maintenance should save you more money and help to avoid unnecessary emergencies. In the absence of a dedicated maintenance department, adopt some scheduling software that allows you to track all of your vehicles and equipment.
You also need to spend some time finding world-class contractors who can help you identify and address maintenance issues before they become expensive problems. Or, take the advantage of data-driven reports to plan maintenance activities.
Predictive analytics can give insights to drive actions. It is always a good idea to observe and analyse the reports as it comes handy while designing future strategy.
#8 Consider all suggestions and feedback
The final step in this process is encouraging feedback from your employees and your customers.
No matter how much time and energy you spend overseeing your company, you won’t be able to catch every issue on your own. All of your employees need to know that you have an open door policy so they feel comfortable bringing up questions and concerns.
Consider sending automated emails to your clients asking for feedback after they have met with your field personnel. Small incentives such as future discounts and gift cards can encourage feedback and reviews.
Taking actions based on feedback brings greater results. So, devise a practice to listen and act.
Taking your company to the next level
There isn’t a single strategy that will work for every company that offers field services, but these few field service management best practices are a great place to start.
Whenever you adopt new tools or integrate new tactics, you must always track the results so you know exactly what is working. With well-trained employees and a long-term plan, your company will be agile, lean, and efficient.