High level of service maturity increases immunity of the business. When your business develops immunity to combat day-to-day challenges that increase operations cost or cause dissatisfaction among customers, they are able to focus fully on growth.
For field service-focused businesses, developing good immunity is necessary as crucial tasks occur in the field. The problem with the field-focused tasks is that they are vulnerable to unforeseen events. Even minor changes in the schedule could delay a series of tasks thus affecting the overall operations.
It does not matter how you are associated with the field service process, whether you are a maintenance service provider or into offering landscaping or cleaning services, ensuring optimum level of service maturity will help you increase resilience, enhance customer satisfaction, and drive profitability.
Top 10 Indicators of Field Service Maturity of Your Business
- Greater visibility into work order management
- Ability to track and monitor in-the-field activities
- Real-time data collection, processing, and reporting
- Access to data in real-time, anytime, anywhere
- Well-integrated platform for inventory, accounting, and back-office processes
- Optimum utilization of the resources
- Seamless internal and external collaboration with team, vendors, and customers
- Common platform to keep all information in one place
- Data-driven decision-making
- High accountability, audit trail, and transparency
If your service operations have following traits, it means you have already scaled up your field service maturity levels to a greater heights. Depending on your business requirements, you can further explore new technology innovations in artificial intelligence, analytics, and Internet of Things to increase your service maturity levels.
However, keep in mind that not every technology is meant for your business, no matter how lucrative they seem. Often it has been observed that people have unconscious biases towards new innovations. Some of the implicit biases are that new technology is better than existing options or that the opinions of your field service representatives are not valuable when it comes to technology adoption.
Before you step up your game in achieving the new levels in service maturity of your business, it is vital to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your services from the perspective of field service representatives.
Challenges of Poor Service Maturity
Field service management companies whose services and operations are not mature enough to withstand the drawbacks of unforeseen circumstances face several challenges. Some of those challenges lead to the existential threat to the business. Here are the key challenges of poor service maturity levels.
- Inability to access to information at the right time creates hurdles in the service delivery
- Poor scheduling and dispatch system causes improper shift planning leading to frustration in field service reps, lower productivity, and dissatisfaction among customers
- Lack of visibility into the processes impedes your decision making processes
- Weak resource allocation processes increase operational cost
Are you facing such problems in managing your day-to-day operations? If yes, it means your service maturity is low. Here are top 5 ways you can increase your service levels, optimize your processes, and maximize profitability.
Top 5 Ways to Increase Service Maturity of Your Business
In any business, regardless of size and industry, robust processes are key to success. It is therefore necessary to take a deep look at your field service processes from different points of views to identify the challenges, find the gaps, and work on areas that desperately need improvements.
Once you identify those areas which are putting massive pressure on your business, you can gradually move to the new spaces improving which you can gain the edge. Here, we will be moving from key areas essential for the top-line and bottom-line to the areas, boosting which you could build a solid reputation of a tech-focused, customer-centric company.
1) Automated Scheduling and Dispatch System
Field service technicians usually take the first bullet for the company. They reach late to a client location and get to hear all the music, most times, without any fault of their own. Clients complain about their dissatisfaction naming them and again they are the ones who are answerable to the management team, although there are a number of variables that contribute to poor satisfaction levels in clients, from lack of training to unavailability of proper tools to resolve the issue.
With a daily barrage of emergency and scheduled visits, field service representatives often feel exhausted and unmotivated, all of which lead to low productivity and reduced efficiency levels. Most of these problems could be solved by adopting automation for scheduling and dispatch processes.
Automation helps in optimizing scheduling and dispatch processes, resulting in higher accuracy in scheduling. Field service reps work in a dynamic environment, thus companies must focus on enhancing their on-the-go scheduling capabilities. But when scheduling happens on paper, field service managers have no real-time visibility into the location of each rep, and so the chances of manual errors increases.
With automated scheduling using a field service management software, managers can track the real-time location of every rep and assign the task to the best suitable rep and notify the person in the field.
2) Route Optimization
There are two outright benefits of route optimization, according to ThomasNet:
(i) Reduce the fuel cost
(ii) Enhanced capabilities to manage your field service team
Both the benefits are critical to drive profitability of your business. Many field service software solutions come with integrated GIS capabilities with location intelligence features that align key information, such as the current location of your field service representative, next visit location, and possible routes to reach the next visit-location.
The software evaluates such information and recommends the best route to the field service representative. It could be the shortest possible routes or routes with less traffic, depending on your requirements. These recommendations reduce the frustration of the rep, which is usually caused due to getting stuck in traffic jams for long and also help managers to track the routes and curb the fuel cost.
3) Optimized Invoice and Payment Process
Managing cash flows is one of the most intricate tasks in a field service business for two key reasons; the first is cost of service delivery directly impacts the profitability of the business, which means every penny counts and second is field service representatives are key point of contact but often lack the expertise to effectively handle the process.
These are the common pain points of any field service management company. The fact is companies can easily resolve such issues with automation. Automating invoice and payment processes include online creation of invoice anytime, anywhere.
With just a few clicks field service representatives can create invoices on-the-spot, ensuring that key details have been duly filled, as the forms only get submitted when relevant columns have been filled. On-site invoice generation also helps in validating the tasks done by field service representatives.
Similarly, when payment processes are brought online, it not just increases transparency and accuracy, but also enables decision-makers to view the current cash status and make the future decisions based on the information.
4) Collect, Store, and Utilize Data
Today, businesses create enormous amounts of data which can be used to generate insight. You can create a multitude of data points based on your business activities and milestones, which you can eventually capture to understand your business performance.
Right from your field service representatives to executives in the office and vendors to customers, every time an interaction happens with or within your business, you have the opportunity to capture those interactions and let the pattern emerge out of it. By studying these patterns, you can predict the upcoming events, good or bad, and take the right decisions to maximize the benefits or curb the effects of the incidents.
Use a field service management software with right integration capabilities. Proper integrations with your existing IT infrastructure can help you improve the quality data and compare the patterns. For instance, when your FMS solution is integrated with a payment system, you get all sorts of data such as the time gap between invoice creation and final payment and mode of payment.
You can analyze the data to understand your payment processes including how much time your customers take to make the payment, or what is the most convenient method of payment for them, so that you make the processes easier for your business, employees, and customers.
5) Seamless Communication and Collaboration
Field service management software provides enhanced capabilities to the business leaders to view, manage, track, and monitor the entire work order in real-time. Integrated with Cloud, mobile, and analytics capabilities, the software provides visibility into the processes and facilitates real-time communication.
From the leadership teams to executives, everyone gets their share of visibility to decide on the action to be taken next. It reduces the pressure on individuals to decide on administrative activities that are extremely necessary and yet time-consuming.
And since teams are capable of communicating in real-time, field teams can communicate effectively with executives in office, who can guide them better as they have greater visibility into the processes. Further, field service software solutions also provide integrated platforms to connect vendors and customers, so that businesses can manage all communications through one platform.
Extensive competition in the service industry demands companies to put more effort into delivering awesome services and superior customer experience at every touchpoint. It requires companies to enhance their service maturity levels, which would help them gain control over the processes and maximize customer-satisfaction.
About Author: Bhupendra Choudhary is the Business Head of FieldCircle – a globally acclaimed field service software company. He enables field sales and service-focused organizations to effectively manage their entire sales & service network with visibility, transparency, and efficiency.