One of the greatest challenges service organizations face is the inevitable schedule change. Even the best person or application can only consider the information available at the time of schedule preparation. As workloads and unexpected events increase throughout the day, the amount of time available for each scheduling decision decreases; often leading to cancellations and missed commitments. Without deploying an optimization solution, a business will continue running into issues of customer satisfaction, productivity, profits and loss of reputation. While every industry and each company is unique, they all face the same problems when dealing with a high percentage of missed commitments.
The Problem: Low Customer Satisfaction.
Appointment cancellations are inefficient for businesses and extremely frustrating for customers. Just One negative customer experience can have a dramatic impact on customer satisfaction and retention. In fact, studies actually show that it takes 12 positive service experiences to make up for one negative experience. Customers expect efficient service and no missed commitments within the service organization’s committed time frame and often aren’t willing to settle for anything less. Certainly missed commitments or a cancelled appointment is completely unacceptable to the modern consumer.
Take for example the following situation: Last year, the power went out in my apartment. When I called the power company, I sat on hold for a half hour. When I finally got through to an agent, they said it would be 4 hours before someone would show up. I understood because there was a powerful storm system moving through the area and they probably were overloaded with similar complaints. The technician showed up on time, which was surprising. However, he had to call a second person because it turned out the job was much more complicated and actually a two-person job. Let’s just say that when they got the power back on nearly 6 hours later, I was not a happy camper.
According to an Infographic titled “U.S. Service Industry Consumer Frustration Index”, Americans spend a massive amount of time dealing with issues per week and very often are unsatisfied with the service they get. While my experience described above seems to be an exception; in fact, it reflects a growing trend of customers dropping services and even posting extremely negative feedback on social media such as Facebook.
The Solution: With a comprehensive solution that gives you real-time visibility of the field, you can react to unexpected events and make sure that your customer commitments are always met. If one field employee is late, but another one is available, you can reshuffle the schedule in real time so that all appointments within the committed time frame get finished. Gain even better customer service by enabling your service business to provide same-day appointments with shorter waiting times.
A great way to do this is to equip your technician or field employees with an app such as FieldExpert that they can use if they need to switch up their schedule, either because of a complicated job or because of traffic or some other unforeseen circumstance.
This is always a problem and it’s usually not linked to how much coffee or red bull you drink per day. It’s not enough to be fast; you also have to be good. If your field employee doesn’t have the right skills or resources, the job won’t be done with the greatest necessary accuracy. This can also harm the confidence level of your workforce. Trying to reschedule a worker at the last minute diminishes productivity and alters the other scheduled appointments for the day or shift. This was probably part of the underlying problem in the experience I described above.
The Solution: Supply your employees with confidence and resources. A scheduling solution considers all available resources and qualified skills before the appointment. By making sure that the right field employee is sent to the right place at the right time, with the right tools and equipment, productivity will sky rocket and keep you on track for your other scheduled commitments.
The Problem: Increase in Costs
With missed commitments come repeated visits and higher labor costs. Incomplete work due to lack of resources, traffic and time restraints will often lead into overtime wages and wasted money.
The Solution: I mentioned it before and I’ll say it again: Apps that enhance mobility. Work–order information made available to your workforce, even when outside the office, will make their work more efficient. Improved efficiency creates more available time for field employees to complete more work, which reduces overtime costs and allows the company to handle the current workload with reduced labor costs. The company will also save on fuel costs since employees will not have to take additional trips to the office.
In fact, apps can leave a good impression on customers. If the employee comes in with a huge tool box and piles of paperwork, the customer may think he’s a mess, even if he is the most capable employee on staff. If everything is on an app on his phone, and all he has to do is have you sign one piece of paper – or even just sign on the phone itself – you’ve made an impression that will more than likely lead to positive customer service feedback.
The Problem: Poor Reputation.
Is your field service organization known for its missed commitments and unfulfilled promises? Without taking control of your workforce’s reputation, your unhappy customers will likely share this information with others in their network. If not checked, this can and will take the form of all sorts of negative postings on social media and crowd-sourced review sites such as Facebook, Yelp and Twitter, as Forbes has reported on several occasions. In today’s world, this is very dangerous for a company or organization, since social media increasingly directly affects a company’s performance.
Another example: I needed to open a second PayPal account. PayPal generally has a decent reputation, but if you look on their Facebook page, they have a ton of negative feedback. When they hadn’t responded to my inquiries about the process within 2-3 weeks, I did what everyone else did: Posted something nasty on their page. Within a day they had called me. The fact that it took a Facebook post to get proper customer service speaks volumes. You can only imagine what would happen if this were a field service operation and the customer was more impatient than myself.
The Solution: At the end of the day, week or month you can measure your service performance and see what needs to improve and where your workforce needs to focus. This will enable better planning of your workforce to accommodate the workload, improving your customer satisfaction and overall reputation. In fact, numerous companies now invite feedback on Facebook because it reveals to them the most pressing issues, and if cleaned up, helps maintain high levels of customer service and ensures no missed commitments.
In addition, it is a good idea to be especially vigilant with regards to social media. You don’t want someone’s negative experience to go viral and affect your actual bottom line.
Begin solving your missed commitment problems by establishing a mobile workforce management system. To begin improving your service, in comparing your field workforce performance to Best-In-Class industry benchmarks with the Service Index Dashboard. An e-book showing some of the incredibly useful information that could appear can be included in this tool can be found here.