Field service management challenges are ticking time bombs waiting to go off. One wrong move can blow your customer satisfaction levels, field service efficiency, and employee productivity to smithereens.
Field service businesses that manage their operations with outdated tools will soon find operations management to be spiraling out of control. Once this happens, a drop in revenue is not far behind. Manual tools may offer simple band-aid solutions for most field service management challenges. But, old-school solutions can never outright solve your challenges.
Field service leaders face many challenges every day—listed below are the top seven field service management challenges that demand a technological alternative.
Top 7 Field Service Management Challenges
1. Scheduling conflicts
Overlapping jobs, double booking, scheduling an unavailable technician, and rescheduling problems fall into this category. Scheduling conflicts can ultimately be expensive for field service businesses.
Schedules are the backbone of field service operations. Everything else is affected when schedules get screwed up; end-to-end, your whole business can be impacted. Online calendars and spreadsheets can compound the issue with their constant need to be updated manually and possibly in more than one place—opening the door to double entry errors.
An all-in-one field service management tool with a built-in scheduling interface can reduce, if not eliminate, scheduling conflicts.
Your scheduling conflicts will decline or cease entirely with the right field service management tool. You can tackle scheduling issues like double booking and unbalanced shift distribution using state-of-the-art features such as real-time technician availability, calendar-like scheduling, and an intelligent scheduler.
2. Work order management
Work orders are the lifeblood of any field service management business. However, work order management is neither easy nor straightforward. Businesses create work orders when customers get in touch with them seeking assistance or to schedule service.
When back-office agents note down customer preferences in siloed interfaces like online forms or spreadsheets, they must manually collect information, even from returning customers. After collecting all the information, they must manually create work orders and specify location specifics before sending them to the dispatching team. None of this is automated. The lack of a centralized database introduces the opportunity for duplicate data entry and other associated field service challenges.
Well-designed field service management software should have a work order management suite helping back-office staff create, store, and monitor orders in an intuitive and effortless manner.
What’s more, when you store all customer information in a centralized database, back-office users can retrieve and create work orders for customers in just a few clicks. Reducing the time taken for work order creation is but one way of helping to increase staff productivity.
3. Route planning
Manual route planning is chaotic. Paper-based routes are not able to consider relevant factors like a technicians’ location or current traffic patterns. As a result, they become inadequate whenever there is a slight change in plan—which happens more often than not in field service.
Inadequate or inaccurate route plans lead to missed appointments, service delays, and increased travel expenses—to name a few. Route plans fall short without a 360-degree view of the technician’s location and accurate traffic information. Poor routing will only consume the time and energy a technician has available at their next service location.
Ideally, a field service management solution will offer real-time visibility of the technician’s location. It should also help businesses effectively route their technicians to the next service location. These field service apps consider various factors like the technician’s current location and real-time traffic information before suggesting a route to the technician.
In an old-school field service environment, customers need to reach out to the back-office staff for rescheduling or to get an update on their service. But the back-office staff has no idea of the technician’s location or status. This lack of information forces them to place the customer on hold and call the technician for an update.
Communication disarray like this eventually causes many headaches for everyone involved. Technicians have to field calls from back-office staff instead of driving. Customers get annoyed with the lack of visibility and the delay in receiving an update. People in the back-office get worn out playing mediator between customers and technicians.
Any field service management solution worth its salt will provide real-time updates to customers to keep them in the loop. Real-time updates reduce the hassle of both back-office administrators and technicians.
When your field service solution comes with a built-in chat tool, communication between your technicians and back-office staff becomes seamless. Back-office staff can view the technician’s location and status in the interface and answer customer questions like a pro.
5. Payment issues
If your company is still using paper-based quotes and invoicing, payment cycles will likely run longer than you would like. Frequently, this is caused by how ineffective paper-based quote and invoice processing can be. As a result, the payment cycle takes considerably longer than anticipated. You are now chasing after customers to collect invoice payments instead of closing jobs in the system.
Listed below are some of the common reasons for payment challenges in field service management:
- Customer did not approve quote
- Invoice and quote don’t match
- Lack of provisions to accept partial payment
- Incapability to accept online payments
- Failure to remind customers of due date
Well-designed field service software can help. Quote and invoicing modules come ready to use and help streamline your technician’s day, making it easier to create, edit, and share billing documents with customers.
Modern field service management tools like Zuper empower field service businesses to accept online payments, send customers reminders, and speed up the payment cycle. What’s more, Zuper’s seamless integration with accounting tools like Quickbooks, Xero, and Zoho Books saves a ton of time by eliminating the need for manual intervention and double data entry.
6. Customer satisfaction
Measuring customer satisfaction in a distributed environment can be a herculean task, so undertaking it can be intimidating. Yet not verifying if field service teams have met or exceeded customer expectations is a quick way to hurt your bottom line. Irate phone calls and bad press on social media can quickly lead to customer churn.
Automated field service management solutions offer businesses pre-built surveys to measure and analyze customer happiness. Zuper can help collect unbiased feedback from customers right after service delivery—and it can do it in a contactless way.
Feedback collected over email or SMS is automatically tagged with the respective job and technician, making CSAT analysis straightforward. Visually rich reports result from the collected data providing you with actionable insights to help maintain and improve your customer satisfaction levels.
7. First-time fix rate
Service closure drags on when technicians don’t have all the information they need. A lack of vital information can necessitate revisiting the site to fix the same issue. Revisits are not only exhausting for technicians and frustrating for customers, but they are also expensive for businesses.
Minimizing additional trips to a site to complete unresolved issues can be accomplished by using a two-way communication system both between technicians and back-office staff and technicians and their supervisors. Such a system, allows back-office staff to retrieve technician notes while they are still in the field. Additionally, it provides a channel of communication between techs and supervisors, allowing them to get advice on solving stubborn problems.
Field service management tools solve first-time fix rate challenges in field management by providing technicians with a single source of truth. Best-in-class field service management solutions like Zuper enable technicians to create, view, and manage job notes and chat with stakeholders right from the work order.
How can automation solve some of these field service management challenges?
Automated field service management solutions like Zuper have proven themselves to be more efficient and effective in solving challenges in operations management. These tools help businesses create, manage, and share important field service documents like work orders, schedules, route plans, quotes, invoices, and more in just a few clicks.
The improved visibility and collaboration that field service tools like Zuper provide will help businesses effortlessly manage and exceed customer expectations. A centralized database allows collecting and storing of all customer and job-related information; companies can speed up service delivery and improve first-time fix rates while reducing service delivery costs.
With little to no human intervention, field service businesses can stay away from deadly field service challenges, which lead to a drop in customer satisfaction levels. 360-degree visibility and audit trails keep field service operations transparent and reduce inefficiency. Businesses can eliminate potential legal and financial risks and compliance issues by automating field service policy enforcement.
The evolving technological landscape only paves the way for new field service management challenges. Staying aware of challenges in operations management is the first step in battling them head-on. Understanding the complexities caused by field service challenges will help businesses stay ahead of their competition and meet their field service goals.
Are field service management challenges holding your business back? If any of the operation management challenges above looks familiar, it is time to upgrade your field service management system.
Try Zuper for free today and see how it can help you battle common field service challenges!