Many different variables can play a role in a field service manager’s journey toward improving customer service and reducing waste.  But regardless of the path taken along that journey, the destination must include job completion to the satisfaction of the customer. In fact, research has shown that 76 percent of customers report they’re willing to switch brands for a better experience.  It’s that lack of loyalty that underscores the importance of the “First-Time Fix Rate” concept. This metric measures the percentage of problems that are resolved on the first customer site visit. Leading in this key metric indicates your field service processes are streamlined and your techs are enabled with the mobile tools they need.

Field service scheduling can play an instrumental part in setting your organization up to better meet those customer expectations.  And by integrating an automated solution, you may be able to improve the chances of a first-time fix before you even dispatch a technician.  Here are four tips for using field service scheduling to make your customers happier and your business more efficient.

1. Use employee data to inform your field service scheduling

Michael Blumberg of Blumberg Associates tackled this very topic recently and published his research on FieldServiceNews.com.  As Blumberg points out, you should ensure techs arrive at a job site with the right tools, knowledge, and resources.  Automated software with a field service scheduling module may be able to help tremendously in this area.  Some platforms allow you to build technician profiles where you can enter information like each employee’s skill set.  This can safeguard you from dispatching a technician incapable of completing the job or necessary tasks.  Other modules can track inventory, which can improve your field service scheduling by avoiding dispatching a tech lacking the right supplies.  Surprisingly, only about half of those surveyed by Blumberg assign a tech-based on skill set, availability, or proximity.

Download the EnSight Plus Guide to High First-Time Fix Rates

2. Schedule routes that are both fast and efficient 

The size of your company may very well dictate the geographic footprint you cover.  But no matter if you’re a multistate giant or a mom-and-pop shop, route planning is critical in field service scheduling.  For instance, let’s say one of your techs has five jobs in his queue for the day.  If you don’t schedule these jobs properly, that tech may only get to three of them.  This is where the power of automation can really come into play. A good field service scheduling software reviews the location of each job and helps by grouping jobs that are in close proximity.  As a result, you’re now able to organize your techs’ queues in an efficient and attainable manner. Barring any unforeseen issues, your techs may even be more likely to stick to the arrival times promised to customers.

A good field service scheduling software reviews the location of each job and helps by grouping jobs that are in close proximity.  As a result, you’re now able to organize your techs’ queues in an efficient and attainable manner.

Some software solutions will allow you to color-code your routes to ensure your drivers aren’t clustered or unnecessarily grouped.  As an added plus, drivers taking more efficient routes are likely to conserve fuel throughout the day.  Consequently, you may be able to save on fuel costs due to this increased emphasis on field service scheduling.

3. Field service scheduling should go hand in hand with historical details 

When it comes to field service scheduling, keeping your database of customer information current is essential.  The first thing you may want to focus on is the customer’s basic contact details.  If the address on the work order is outdated, your dispatched tech may waste valuable time by driving to the wrong site.  To make matters worse, if the phone number is also wrong, your tech will have no way to reach the customer.

76 percent of customers report they’re willing to switch brands for a better experience.  It’s that lack of loyalty that underscores the importance of the “First-Time Fix Rate” concept. This metric measures the percentage of problems that are resolved on the first customer site visit. Leading in this key metric indicates your field service processes are streamlined and your techs are enabled with the tools they need.

Prior experiences with the customer can also supply you with a wealth of information.  Most field service management software solutions allow the tech to enter detailed notes about work performed.  For example, historical documentation can shed light on access points at the site, intricacies in the equipment, and customer preferences.  This can be helpful for you to review prior to scheduling or dispatching a tech the next time the customer calls.  Just how significant can that preparation be?  Nearly 60 percent of customers say tailored engagement based on past experiences is very important to winning their business.

Want more information on how proper scheduling can increase your enterprise’s profits and productivity? How Fleet Managers Succeed: 3 Ways to Win

4. Communicate before, during, and after you schedule a job

One of the more frequent complaints customers have with some companies is the lack of personal touch.  Simply put, they want you to treat them like a person, not a number. And you should be extending that courtesy throughout the field service scheduling process.  It may be a good idea to take the time to confirm the appointment with a follow-up call prior to the visit. Fortunately for you, field service scheduling software can make this easy for your organization through automated alerts. You may also wish to take advantage of alerts that prompt follow-up calls to gauge customer satisfaction. Following up with customers can help identify errors in the CRM data as well as specific steps that the visiting tech could have taken to complete the job the first time. Together, these efforts can increase the overall first-time fix rate.

On the day the job is taking place, your tech may want to call the customer while they’re en route.  Not only is this a nice customer service gesture, but it confirms the customer is home and ready for your tech to arrive.  If there’s a delay, the tech should make a phone call to inform the customer of the new expected arrival time.  Over communicating is key when it comes to field service scheduling.

Poor field service scheduling can affect your bottom line

One of the more staggering statistics included in Blumberg’s research touched on service-level agreements.  In the last year, 99 percent of those respondents incurred a financial penalty or supplied rebates due to missing response time targets.  While many factors are involved, there’s no doubting field service scheduling’s influence on customer service.  Automation may be a good idea for some organizations, but a sharpened focus on scheduling and dispatching should be a priority for all. Check out EnSight+ Field Service Management Software to see how our solution can bring the results you need.

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