Field Service – the POWER of Roles

Field Service DispatcherRecently we met with a property management company to discuss implementing ZenTouch to manage their field service crews and customers. One of the very first questions I asked the management decision team was “What are the roles of each person involved in your field service team?”

This one question led to an in depth discussion of each member of their field service team. We not only discussed the role of each person but the business processes associated with each job role. We discovered that they had 4 primary roles that while different were interrelated and dependent upon each other. These included:

  • Field Service Tech
  • Field Service Manager
  • Office Manager / Dispatcher
  • Director / Sr. Manager

Each of these roles had specific needs and goals that they were trying to address.

  • Field Service Tech
    • Mobile Work orders that can be sent directly to their SmartPhone. “We want to be able to dispatch a new service ticket any time during the day. We also want to limit the amount of travel into our office.”
    • The ability to add work orders or service items to a work order in the field. “Sometimes our guys need to add service items to a work order.”
    • Semi-Rugged Tablet - “Our guys have fat grimy fingers”
    • Easy to use, intuitive interface that will make it “easier” to enter work order information. “Some of our guys are slow to adopt technology.”
    • Automatically push changes – “Changes don’t occur all the time. But there are changes. We’d like automatically push those changes to the technician.
    • Integration with GPS Maps to “guide them to their next job assignment”
  • Field Service Manager
    • Service Team Location – “I’d like to know where my guys are, or at least their last know location. I want to better plan the location of their next service call”
    • Inventory / Parts Tracking – “It would be nice to know when my guys are getting low on parts so I can pre-order parts for example HVAC filters”
    • Time Tracking – “I would like to know when my guys start and stop a job. It would also be nice to track time in route”
  • Office Manager / Dispatcher
    • Daily and Weekly planning - “I need to quickly switch between a day view and week few so that I can strategically plan service jobs.
    • Service Team Location – “Like our Field Service manager I need to know where our guys are right now. This would be particularly helpful when responding to emergency jobs I could assign a technician based on his location and job load.”
    • Time Tracking – “I would like to know when they start and stop a job. It would also be nice to track time in route”
    • Have completed Work Orders automatically come into the system. “I’m tired of trying to decipher if a 5 is an S or a 7 is a T”
  • Director / Sr. Manager
    • Productivity Reports – “I’d like to analyze which of our guys are the best producers.”
    • Profitability Reports – “I’d like to at a glance see the services that generate the largest margin. On the flip-side, I’d like to see the least profitable services so I can adjust pricing or identify training areas to improve my team”
    • Data Visibility – “I’d like a solution that presents data graphically so that I can easily identify trends in our business.”
    • Point and Click process to add notes to service tickets. “This will give us insight as to challenges on individual jobs or customers.”
    • Automated Processes – “I’d like to see greater productivity out of the entire team. I see the Office Manager and Field Service Manager shuffling through paper. Sometimes they’ll invoice a customer and then a week later a change sheet comes in that got left in a guys truck. We then have to send an adjust invoice. That doesn’t always sit well with customers. I know we can better utilize their time”

As you can see each role is unique but connected at the same time. Discussing these roles enabled us to explore business processes, bottle necks, customer acceptance policies, scheduling, inventory management, appropriate devices, reporting needs and interdependencies to help each player fulfill their role and create a unified team.

The real challenge for many field service companies  is implementing a system that is flexible and powerful enough to accommodate each business role in an efficient manner that allows for seamless transitions of data from one user to the next.

Businesses that have adopted role based mobile systems are discovering the power of roles – that the right data, at the right time, in the hands of the right person enables them to drive business now.

Jody Sedrick
Follow me on Twitter: @jodysedrick and @zenwareinc and @zenwaremobile
LinkedIn Profile 
ZenTouch is a product of ZenwareZenware is a Boise Idaho based company that specializes In custom mobile software development, custom iOS development, custom Android development, iPad software development, iOhone software development, custom web development, web hosting, Cloud and SaaS based work order management software.

Posted in Android, Cloud Software, Customer Service, Dispatching, Field Service, Field Service Management, Field Service Scheduling, Mobile Device, Mobile Field Service, SaaS, Scheduling, Service Tickets | No Comments

Funny Friday – Conan Travels – “Orchard Apple Picking with Mr. T” – 2/11/09

A little humor with Mr. T and “Mr. C” at the apple orchard

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments

Customer Service – Transition from Platitudes to Profit!

Customer Service moving past platitudesCustomer Service!

You’ve heard the cry from industry leaders, business owners and even the competition. Customer Service continues to be a key rallying point and strategic opportunity for field service businesses to impact the profitability and long-term growth of their company. Field Service organizations speak of customer service to the point of being cliche. But, how many leverage customer service to become a key profit driver and differentiator in business?

In Aberdeen’s recent report, State of Service Management: Outlook for 2013, by Sumair Dutta, the criticality of transitioning your service department from a cost center to a profit center is brought to bear.

“It’s not about paying lip service to customer service or marketing around service prowess, but rather is more about developing a strategic plan around the efficient delivery of service and support to customers to improve customer satisfaction, enhance loyalty, and strengthen future revenue streams by truly understanding what customers are unable to do for themselves.
Source: Aberdeen: State of Service Management: Outlook for 2013, Author, Sumair Dutta

Field Service organizations that strategically position and structure customer service as an integral part of their operations are turning field service into greater profit generating centers – complementing other areas of their business.

A few key areas where customer service centric focus impacts field service profitability were emphasized in Aberdeen’s Report:

  • Retained customers account for a significant portion of on-going revenue streams. In fact, according to Aberdeen’s reports, 80% of total revenues in 2012 were directly attributed to existing customers. Customer loyalty is not won by price. Rather it is driven by the seemingly intangibles like how a customer “feels” about the products and services received, communication with the customer through then entire process, arriving on-time, servicing the item on the first visit, etc. What are you doing within your field service organization today to capture this built-in pipeline of future business?
  • Satisfied customers directly impact revenue growth. Field service organizations that earned a 90% plus customer satisfaction rating, not surprisingly, earned a higher customer loyalty score enabling them to leverage this commitment into greater profitability. On the flip side field service organizations who earned a lower satisfaction rating of 50% were not able to capitalize on customer retention, customer loyalty and the associated increased revenues.
  • Customer Protection – 54% of organizations surveyed by Aberdeen view service as a differentiating tool in their customer service arsenal to fend off the allure of lower priced products and services of competitors.
  • Increased Service Margins – The profitability gap of Service Margins for customer service centric companies to other companies was significant – 40% versus 22%. Customer service centric organizations recognize that field service process optimization and standardization is a major factor in cost reduction and ensuring strong profit margins.

The financial impacts of customer service focused field service organizations are glaringly obvious. As field service organizations augment their service offerings with training, installation and consulting a customer centric, disciplined approach to customer service will be even more critical to push service organizations beyond the platitudes of customer service to real profitability.

Jody Sedrick
Follow me on Twitter: @jodysedrick and @zenewareinc and @zenewaremobile
LinkedIn Profile 
ZenTouch is a product of ZenwareZenware is a Boise Idaho based company that specializes In custom mobile software development, custom iOS development, custom Android development, iPad software development, iPhone software development, custom web development, web hosting and SAAS based work order management software.

Posted in Customer Service, Field Service, Field Service Management | No Comments

One Word to Describe the Biggest Challenge Facing Field Service Techs

ZenTouch Field Service HVACFor the past 6 months I’ve been following a LinkedIn Conversation started by Daniel Buckle in the Field Service Society Group. He posted the question “Can you use ONE WORD to describe the biggest challenge facing Field Service Technicians today?”

I’ve been intrigued by the responses. Here are a sampling of the responses:

  • Travel
  • Gas
  • Technology
  • Efficiency
  • Paperwork
  • Urgency
  • Multi-tasking
  • Customers
  • Compliance
  • Communication
  • Utilization
  • Planning
  • Empathy
  • Quality
  • Reliability
  • Support
  • Competence

The list of responses continues to grow.  An interesting observation can be made from this list.  The one-word descriptions of Field Service challenges address one or more of the following core business needs.

  • Customer Service – Are you providing the best customer services possible? Are you sending the right tech in a timely manner? Can the tech address the concerns of the customer while fixing the problem? Is the service tech armed with the right information and parts to address the service issue during the first visit?
  • Team Management –  Do you have systems in place that allow dispatchers the ability to effectively assign and dispatch jobs?  Are they assigning the right tech? Do they know where your tech service guys are and where they are supposed to be next? Do service techs have enough information about the service call before hand? Do they have the right parts and equipment?  
  • Route Management –  Do dispatchers have the flexibilty to assign jobs based on a technicians location? Can I plan job assignments so service techs spend lest time behind the wheel and more time with customers?
  • Technology – Are you incorporating mobile technology to effectively manage field service crews? Does your technology create a complete and immediate bridge between the field service tech and the home office? Does your technology allow you to expedite the time from invoice and collections?
  • Training – Are you providing on-going training of the latest service techniques to the top service techs on your team? Are you mentoring younger less experienced technicians so they become top service techs? Are you scheduling training in non-productive time or seasons?

One of the areas impacting field service companies is a more informed consumer.  YouTube, I Fix-It, and other repairs sites provide a depth of knowledge and do-yourself tips previously not available to consumers . While the number of consumers opting to use these sites to repair their own equipment is relatively small compared to consumers who still turn to a professional service providers, this information is creating a more informed consumer. Thus, the requirement for service companies and techs to be at the top of their game has never been more critical.

As you look at your field service business what would you add to the list of the biggest challenges facing field services today?

Jody Sedrick
Follow me on Twitter: @jodysedrick and @zenewareinc and @zenewaremobile
LinkedIn Profile 
ZenTouch is a product of ZenwareZenware is a Boise Idaho based company that specializes In custom mobile software development, custom iOS development, custom Android development, ipad software development, iphone software development, custom web development, web hosting and Saas based work order management software.

Posted in Dispatching, Field Service, Field Service Management, Field Service Scheduling, Mobile Field Service, Scheduling | No Comments