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The Hidden Costs of Poor Field Service Technology

The past 6 months living through the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an increased focus on employee technology and tools. Now more than ever, employees in all industries need digital tools that allow them to work more effectively and efficiently — as these tools not only impact the employee experience, but also the bottom line.

Few industries are as impacted by the quality of the tools and information available as field service management (FSM), in large part due to the fact jobs are done at remote locations. Whether they’re installing or replacing equipment, or simply completing maintenance, field service technicians rely on a variety of tools to complete each job. But with 52% of companies still using manual processes for field service tasks, there is plenty of room to increase efficiency.

The costs of poor field service applications and processes go beyond employee satisfaction and directly impact the bottom line, with many of these costs being in the form of productivity gains that go unrealized.

Imagine, what would it mean if your field service technicians were able to complete one more job per day? What would that do for your business?

In part one of our three part series focused on field service applications, we’ll look at several costly field service pain points and how they impact productivity.

Insufficient Tools Handcuff Technician Efficiency

Regardless of the industry, field technicians strive to get the job done during their first visit, relying on the information on record to prepare accordingly. But with 45% of field technicians reporting current tools are not fast enough, and 38% saying they can’t access all the needed information, it’s clear technicians are being left shorthanded. This issue compounds as unclear processes and support structures leave technicians unsure of how to obtain the information they need during the job — meaning the employee may not be able to complete the job during their first trip, costing the company up to $1,000 for a follow up. While used to measure the efficiency of field service technicians, first-time fix rates can be a deceiving metric hiding larger issues related more to company processes than to the individual technician.

Too Much Wasted Time

The variability of each field service job means it’s critical to optimize technician scheduling and utilization. Resource optimization not only gives technicians the opportunity to complete as many jobs as possible but also ensures they have the right amount of work to do. According to Abberdeen, the average technician spends 40% of their time idle, emphasizing the need to reduce time spent in transit, where technicians aren’t completing billable work. This time in transit has less obvious costs as well, as more time in transit means more money spent on fuel for company owned vehicles and therefore more costly vehicle maintenance. To properly optimize resources, FSM organizations must have the infrastructure and data in place to quickly and accurately route incoming job requests to the appropriate technicians.

Communication Breakdowns Reduce Customer Retention

Retaining customers is a byproduct of customer satisfaction. And while customer satisfaction is no doubt important, a primary impediment in field services is clear communication with the customer. Whether it’s the customer support tools available, the field technician’s response time, or the speed of fixes, being able to provide clear and accurate information is critical to customer retention. Unclear timing and a lack of visibility into the job process can leave customers asking “where is my technician,” “what’s taking so long,” or “that’ll cost me how much?” Many of these questions can be answered before a job even begins. And with new customer acquisition on average costing 5x more than customer retention, field service technicians need tools that allow them to effectively communicate with current customers.

Don’t Leave Money on the Table with FSM Technology

Each field service job brings its own complications, meaning any “easy wins” take on increased importance. FSM organizations continue to look to the margins to identify where these productivity gains can be made, but often overlook the technology and processes used by its technicians. These tools handcuff employees and fail to properly utilize resources, increasing the chances of inaccurate communication with customers. All in all, without robust field service technology, FSM organizations leave money on the table at each and every step of their technicians’ journey. And while it sounds simple to upgrade field service technology, legacy systems create such an obstacle that efforts are viewed as too difficult or time consuming.

In part two of our series, we’ll address this critical FSM technology issue while outlining the value a field service technology such as Salesforce can provide.

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