It is never easy to manage people in a field service business, especially when it is a field service team. Since they spend most of their time on-site, it becomes really tough for the managers to predict their challenges, resolve their issues on time, motivate, guide, and supervise them.
However, with advancements in technology, times have changed. Digitization of processes keeps them in sync with office staff, managers today have more visibility into field activities, they can track and monitor their performance to further guide and supervise them, and provide a quick resolution to their problems, resulting in less frustration and improved productivity.
But these were the solutions to their past challenges. In the new era, with the use of new tools and technologies in the organization and in the field service industry, new challenges have emerged. In order to address these challenges, companies need to review their existing methods, identify challenges, and evolve their best practices to support their field service team.
Here are 5 best practices that every field service business must follow to improve the productivity and performance of their field teams.
Set clear goals
It is one of the most frustrating things for the field service technicians to find that they are doing differently from what is expected from them. While we cannot ignore the fact that operational goals impact individual goals, which are subject to change, one cannot deny the importance of keeping field teams informed about the changes or even bring clarity on the existing goals from time to time.
Make sure that you do not leave goals and task assessments for fortnightly, monthly or annual performance review meetings. If you are using field service management software to manage your field service operations, you could use modules and features that allow you to create and set goals for your team. In the case of manual processes, creating a huddle every morning before the field teams leave the office for their jobs might help you a great deal.
Address Scheduling Conflicts
Scheduling conflicts is one of the biggest contributors to the problems in field team management. Nonetheless, it directly affects the operational efficiency, first-time fixed-rate, customer satisfaction, and productivity of the field teams.
Challenges in scheduling are often accompanied by challenges in field service dispatch processes. It is because dispatch-related details are sent to technicians based on their schedules, and frequent changes or any conflict in schedules could lead to both confusion and frustration in field teams.
Use auto schedulers, either standalone, calendar base schedulers, or field service scheduling software to schedule your field teams. These solutions are usually backed by AI technology that considers various criteria such as task, location, skill, and availability to recommend the best field service technician for the job.
Track and Monitor Field Activities for Guidance and Supervision
While tracking and monitoring of field activities have many objectives, your top priority should be to provide field teams guidance and support, as and when needed.
There is an abundance of tools and technologies led by the advancement in mobile computing and spatial technologies that allows you to effectively monitor the field activities.
Most tracking and monitoring tools would either provide you real-time visibility into the field activity or in a time-bound manner. You can use the tracking data to identify the challenges of your field teams and provide them with quick solutions.
Set Measurable Metrics
The use of automated tools for field service operations management has increased today. However, the problem is service managers often spend their time and energy in collecting data that is not relevant, as in, they do not provide any clear insight into the field service team’s performance. The worst part is, they use the data to set performance metrics for field teams.
While setting metrics, it is important to choose one that fulfills your objective. Setting up purposeless metrics would irritate the technicians and affect their performance and productivity in the long run. And data has a big role to play in it.
The best practice here should be to set a metric that you could easily measure with accurate, complete, and consistent data.
Collaboration and communication
Communication is a bridge between field service teams and back-office staff. If this bridge is broken, neither teams nor your business could flourish. Imagine the consequences of poor communication by the fact that it would directly increase the turnaround time, leading to a bad service experience. Other consequences of such broken bridges in the system are increased conflict, delay invalidations and approvals, and high inaccuracy.
While field service software solutions increase the communication and collaboration within teams, the onus is on service managers and leadership teams to equip the technicians with the right tools.
A Call to Action
Every teamwork has its own culture of working. As a manager, you need to create strategies that do not disrupt the culture but helps to evolve into something new and better.