Chris Calamos, CEO Retriever Communications gives insight into the Five Critical KPIs for Field Service Success.
Over the last year and throughout the pandemic, business leaders and staff managers everywhere have begun to understand what managers of field service workers have always known – the specific challenges of managing staff who aren’t working alongside you.
As the world embraced remote working to greater or lesser success, for field service worker managers it was business as usual, with a few additional minefields thrown into the mix.
With the latest and most effective technology, however, those minefields will have been easily navigated, as it has been developed with just such scenarios in mind. To accomplish this navigation smoothly, with or without a global pandemic, let me remind you of a handful of the Five Critical KPIs for Field Service Success that will always help you and your staff.
The greatest technology in the world is useless unless it has complete buy-in from the user, so it’s imperative that whatever systems and processes an organisation adopts for its field service workers, that tech makes their jobs easier not harder. The absolute number one golden rule is that it should be simpler and quicker to complete than paper forms and documents. If something isn’t an improvement on a system that has been working pretty well for over two millennia (paper was believed to be invented in China around 100 BC) then, really, what is the point?
Mobile applications need to be designed for the mobile field worker, not office-based workers, otherwise they are unlikely to be successfully adopted. They should reflect the actual workflow of the user, while still capturing all of the data and information that is needed back at the office. And they should be customised and specific to the task at hand. Workers only need to access and work with data that is relevant to what they are doing at any given moment – anything else is extraneous.
If you need a checklist for ensuring the application you are implementing is fit for purpose, try the five Es: effective, efficient, engaging, error tolerant and easy to learn.
Many a manager shuddered at the thought of losing direct visual contact with their whole team and direct reports during the pandemic. The overwhelming concern was an ensuing loss of productivity. ‘If I’m not sitting five metres away, keeping an eye on them, how will I know they’re not down the beach eating ice cream?” Some handled this fear with constant catch-ups on Zoom or Teams (ironically often wasting time that could have been spent more productively), while others used this golden rule – before and after benchmarking.
Your tech should incorporate measurement tools to calculate the exact productivity levels of each worker in the field.
Efficient productivity tools will give a clear picture of the time taken to complete tasks and the time spent on non-productive activities (travel, breaks etc). They will include filters and map schedules to maximise efficiency in job allocation depending on geography, and communication tools, so that notes specific to each individual job can be added. If a worker is excessively late to a job or has taken a strange detour (via that beach, for example), your tools will make this very clear to office-based staff. Maximum visibility leads to maximum productivity.
How can technology improve safety standards and compliance for your field service workers? Easily. Traditionally, workplace health and safety obligations have been managed via paper-based forms such as the Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) or a Take 5. But would the worker always have the correct form with them? And enough of them? What about updates? Returning completed forms safely to the office for storage? Auditing and retrieval? All of these issues are simply solved with the correct application. Retriever’s safety forms incorporate such elements as: enforceability within the workflow (meaning further job stages cannot be accessed until the JHA is completed), faster completion time, logical workflow, time and location stamping, updates, photographs and immediate safety report generation.
Today customers are used to transparency. When they order a food delivery, have the RACV come out to their flat battery or send an important piece of mail overseas, that meal, technician or letter are tracked every step of the way and alerts come to the customer’s phone informing them of their progress. Your customers will expect no less. ‘Chris will be around sometime Wednesday after lunch’ will no longer cut it, so ensure your tech solution displays maps and the current location of every field service worker, plus reliable and accurate arrival times. It should be able to cope with meeting SLAs (service level contracts) – many contracts will stipulate these and financial penalties may be incurred if they are not achieved.
Real-time visibility and accountability give customers peace of mind and confidence that their issues are being addressed as and when they arise, with customer support staff always informed and ready to provide accurate updates without taking the field worker away from the task at hand.
Finally, a streamlined and fully comprehensive tech solution has a clear and significant effect on the bottom line via the successful completion of jobs. With asset breakdown or servicing handled swiftly and efficiently there is less downtime for the customer. Increased uptime of the asset not only shows that the maintenance program is working well, it also means increased productivity for the customer, which has a direct flow-on effect on revenues.
These five critical KPIs for field service success are all easily achieved with the right tech solution for your field service team.