It’s hard to believe that in 2016, companies are still relying on manual processes to communicate with a dispersed workforce, namely field technicians. You would think that with all of the mobility and technology we have these days, larger companies, in particular, would have jumped at the chance to streamline their communication, if only to reduce costs. Surprisingly, however, manual phone calls are still the norm and with them, comes unnecessary operating expenses and inefficient job assignments.
If only 14 percent of companies provide a device to employees and fewer than 19 percent of companies use a custom mobile app, the overwhelming majority of companies are depending on phone calls, two-way radios, or other outdated channels to coordinate a complex web of technicians. It’s not surprising that the lowest customer satisfaction rates come from industries with a large number of field technicians, such as internet service providers, telecommunication and information, energy utilities, and subscription television service providers.
Let’s take a typical service company with dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of field technicians. Without modern mass communication software, when a customer calls with a service issue, a dispatcher will check the system to see which field technician is in the area and available. GPS is commonly used to track locations but there are often multiple technicians in the vicinity. The dispatcher will call each technician to see how soon they could get to the intended location. These techs are usually working on a site and often cannot respond right away. The dispatcher and the customer must wait until the availability issue is determined and a field tech can add the ticket to their schedule.
Even though this is how things have been done for decades, it is a colossal waste of time and money given that there is software available to make this process dramatically simpler. It comes in the form of mass communication software.
The Myth about Mass Communication Software
When people think of mass communication software, they often imagine it for emergencies, such as fires, weather-related events, and power outages. Sure, it is the ideal technology to communicate with employees about critical events, send notifications and alerts, and guide employees with information they can use to stay safe, but if you look at the technology from a 10,000-foot level, you see it does something much broader for any organization using it. It connects the business with employees in real-time, no matter where they are. Period.
Any messaging that needs communicating, whether an emergency or simply information regarding an important event, can be reliably, securely, and immediately delivered to specified groups of people. Even better, messages can be received as well, opening up a dialogue between individual employees and the rest of the company. It is better than archaic phone calls because it enables technicians to simply tap an “accept” or “decline” button for a project instead of engaging in a lengthy conversation with a dispatcher.
This simple finger tap versus answering a call and discussing why a technician can or cannot take on the next project eliminates a significant amount of time from the dispatching process. An automated system also reduces the time it takes a dispatcher to find those potentially available field technicians by integrating with GPS and other internal systems. Dispatchers no longer have to manually scan their own systems to find an available tech; the software does it for them and then automatically sends the accept or decline option. A “decline” swipe triggers the system to go to the next potential technician, all without the need for a human dispatcher. Instead, that dispatcher can answer more calls and help more customers.
Everything Is An Emergency
If you are in the service industry and your reputation and customer retention depends on your responsiveness to service issues, every call for a technician is an emergency. Those repair tickets mean one thing – a customer is waiting and the success of the project is partially dependent on how quickly a technician can answer the service call. A human admin or dispatcher can only do so much so fast. Mass communication software that can auto-trigger a response works much faster than a call center full of people looking at dispatcher lists, dialing numbers, and having conversations.
The faster a company can close out a service ticket, the sooner that technician can go to another call. Multiply that productivity increase by every technician and the efficiencies and cost savings grow exponentially – not to mention the customer satisfaction rates.
While the customer and their perception of service level are top of mind, let’s not forget that companies want to keep costs as low as possible while delivering top-level service. The average wage for a Field Service Technician is $19.22 per hour and the total cost of ownership for a light-duty vehicle ranges from $5,000 to $8,000 per vehicle, per year. One way to reduce operating costs is to streamline the dispatching process as much as possible. When the technician’s time can be managed more efficiently, technicians can be more productive and answer more calls. Travel time between jobs can be reduced and potentially fewer trucks are needed to complete all of the projects.
Bottom Line Efficiency
In a world where consumers demand near-instantaneous service and support, it’s all about efficiency. Any time a company can do more with fewer resources, they’re going to see productivity gains, cost reductions, and hopefully profit increases. Adding critical communications software helps companies eliminate many inefficiencies by automating manual processes and the multiple human touches dispatching that was traditionally required. It also provides companies with a record of every ticket assignment or change to those assignments. This helps companies become better at what they do and just possibly improve those dismal customer satisfaction scores.
Something as simple as cloud-based mass communication software can be easily implemented and deployed in only hours, requiring few to no resources or training. The system is not intended to replace employees, just make them more available to do higher-priority work and accomplish more. It may help companies funnel resources to more strategic areas instead of costly service issues.
When considering how to improve customer service and even internal communications, this modern software should be at the top of the list. The ROI can be felt across the company as employees are better informed, are safer, can communicate more effectively, and can do their jobs more efficiently.