Here's How Digital Scheduling and Dispatch Makes for Better Field Service
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Scheduling and dispatch are critical to a well-run field service operation yet are often treated as periphery considerations. Many brands still aren't making the most out of these two factors and need to step it up in 2020.
Fifty-nine percent of field service providers offer their customers the first available slot when booking appointments, with only the remaining 40% presenting alternative options according to a benchmark study by Blumberg Advisory Group. To make this issue worse, almost half of appointments occur in five days or longer from the point of booking, demonstrating an inability to deal appropriately with emergency appointments or expedited requests. Fewer than one-third of field service providers were found to be capable of booking appointments one to two days in advance.
Breaking this cycle should be a priority for field service providers and, perhaps unsurprisingly given the times we live in, digital technology is helping to provide effective and elegant solutions.
Scheduling and Dispatch
So, why is achieving more efficient scheduling and dispatch so important? After all, many other services force customers to wait for an appointment — what's so special about field service?
Every moment a customer's infrastructure is still suffering a fault is costing them money, and that's money they're not going to be paying your company. If they find their current field service provider can't respond with agility to their needs — especially in times of emergency — then the chances of them shopping around for an alternative provider increases significantly. However, those brands which can respond in this fashion will build long-lasting and committed relationships with their clients and enjoy their business far into the future.
This all boils down to customer experience — a concept that is outstripping price and product when it comes to gaining and retaining business. Overhauling your scheduling and dispatch processes to maximize the speed, ease, and convenience in which customers can access your services is the quickest and best path to providing this experience.
Some simple to implement methods of achieving this include:
- Give customers the ability to schedule service via any channel of their choice (from social to call center to SMS/text).
- Ensure response times, whether explicit or implicit, are always met.
- Update customers automatically of any delays and an ETA of their assigned field worker, similar to the updates they would receive from Uber.
- Provide field workers with mobile access to customer information, job details, and task lists from their field service app. Include offline capabilities for field workers to maintain access to this crucial information in remote areas.
This is where digital scheduling and dispatch tools come into their own, enabling field service providers to achieve all of the above with a minimum of hassle and investment.
With powerful scheduling and dispatch software in your backroom toolbox, it becomes possible for your staff to slot incoming jobs into existing schedules. When an emergency call comes in, the software can automatically search all engineer's schedules and find the best way to accommodate the request.
It can account for a range of variables when making these decisions, including searching the routes your engineers already have set out and finding the least disruptive point for the new job. This not only means the job gets attended to in the quickest time possible but ensures engineers don't have to travel too far out of their way — avoiding situations where other appointments are disrupted and saving your brand money on factors such as fuel costs.
Thanks to field service mobility, new instructions can be shared with engineers in real time, making sure they have access to the most up to date and relevant information available, using any connected device. Job information can also be shared automatically, ensuring engineers arrive at the job with all the data they need to complete the task at hand.
With these tools available to your staff, your field service brand can achieve real and measurable improvements to customer satisfaction and revenue. When you consider that 99% of field service providers incurred a financial penalty or were required to provide a customer rebate for missing response time targets in the last year — and almost half missed these targets more than 24 times last year — the need for intelligent digital solutions becomes ever more apparent.
With digital scheduling and dispatch software, field service providers are roughly 45% more likely to handle 100 or more service requests per day. They are also 39% more likely to experience a compliance rate of 90% or higher. With these figures, the impact of digital transformation in this area becomes almost inarguable.
Digital scheduling and dispatch are set to be hot topics at Field Service Amelia Island 2020, taking place in August at The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, FL.
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.
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