When it comes to field service management, it’s essential to have the right technician for right the job. You not only want to make sure your technician is prepared with the appropriate equipment, you need the ability to easily and effectively schedule — or reschedule — your team.
According to the Aberdeen Group, about 25% of service calls require at least one additional visit. Unfortunately, added appointments can be expensive, time-consuming (on both ends), and lead to an unsatisfactory customer experience.
One of the best ways to manage these potential problems is to implement a field service management software that includes service locations, predictive maintenance, work order management, product inventory, scheduling and more. Here’s how to use the latest technology to improve first-time fix rate challenges.
1. Lack of the right spare parts. It’s important to ensure that field service technicians are well prepared with everything they need to complete the job. Even the absence of one part can delay fixing the issue, which would likely require at least one additional visit — and more of everyone’s time.
Solution: Use the right software to organize service calls, diagnose what parts are needed, and check inventory to ensure that the right parts are in stock and available to get the job done the first time.
2. Depleted inventory . It’s understandable that inventory may be depleted, but properly managing stock levels is an easy and efficient way to prevent a technician from being unprepared and having to reschedule or line up a second visit.
Solution: Using data analytics, forecast which parts or tools you should restock.
3. Poor planning or communication. Clear, effective communication is crucial, no matter the business, organization, or industry — and field service technicians are no exception. Lapses in planning or communication can lead to ill-prepared technicians, rescheduling challenges, and inventory concerns about whether parts are in stock.
Solution: It’s important to schedule the right technician for the right job, and be sure to know whether the parts are in stock and available. Keep tabs on your techs with GPS fleet tracking and other software to ensure that the visit won’t go over the allotted time or leave insufficient time to complete the next job.
4. Manual paperwork. According to the Service Council, 46% of field technicians say that paperwork and other administrative tasks are the most unfavorable parts of their daily responsibilities. Even though it’s required and essential, this part of the job can be inefficient and more time-consuming than needed.
Solution: Digitize and automate as much of the paper-based process as you can so technicians can spend their time on other important responsibilities. Plus, creating a digital process can streamline procedures, create efficiencies within the workplace, and ensure that all the appropriate paperwork and files are organized and easily accessible.
5. Unanswered questions. A technician may have all the right tools, equipment, and inventory — but more information may be needed. How can you fully prepare field service technicians so they are equipped with the right answers?
Solution: Connect technicians to the main office and provide them with real-time answers and updates, including the ability to look at Frequently Asked Questions on their devices so they can try and solve the issue by themselves.
6. Scheduling issues. It’s inevitable that calendars and agendas may need to be modified, but planning in advance and having the ability to easily adapt to last-minute changes is crucial.
Solution: Provide your field service technicians with the ability to schedule future visits if they know something will need to be adjusted or replaced soon. This is important because it removes the need for technicians to call the office and have other employees schedule visits on their behalf. The right software will keep all schedules up to date to prevent double-booking.
7. Being unprepared. A basic customer expectation is that technicians are prepared. This means that you want someone to show up on time — and with the right parts and knowledge. Without any one of these components, an additional site visit is likely needed.
Solution: By using analytics, you can look into which technicians run into which issues. You can also determine which clients or jobs have a low percentage of first-time fixes. By analyzing the data, you can see if improvements are needed in inventory or scheduling — or if tech training could increase the first-time fix rates for clients across the board.
8. Inadequate software management training. The right knowledge, education, and training are essential for any expert or technician using management software. Without these, you will likely have to reschedule or add additional site visits, which will likely negatively impact scheduling, time, and budgets for everyone involved.
Solution: Training techs to properly use field service management software is essential to fix any issues that may arise. If a technician doesn’t know how to use the tools, the job will likely not go well.
At the end of the day, it’s inevitable that issues may arise, but ensuring that you have the right field service management software will help effectively manage potential problems — which ultimately means more efficiency, productivity, and an overall happier customer service experience.
Michel Mendoza is director of industry solutions and field service at Hitachi Solutions.
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