With many companies engaged in work across the globe, successful mobile workforce management is critical, yet we are still seeing many companies struggle with the effective management of their mobile workforce.
Let’s set the scene. It’s a hectic day within the dispatch office of a major field service business that repairs equipment throughout a nation. Their types of work come fast and with very short notice: the customer’s equipment is broken and the business needs to dispatch a repair technician quickly. Whether the technician arrives today, tomorrow, or the next day, they simply cannot get there fast enough for the customer who is in an immediate need of assistance.
The telephones ring constantly with customers calling to register new service calls; or maybe they are calling to chase, “What’s going on…when will the technician be here?”; or worse still the customer is calling to rebook another call as their problem was not fixed. And then there’s the technicians who are calling for updates; and the dispatchers calling the technicians, “Where are you…can you fit in another call?”. The schedule is written on a white board and updates overwrite the earlier work, but did the dispatcher update the correct job? Paperwork flies around the office and the service manager wants to know the current operational situation, now. Chaos reigns; tensions are high; operating costs are escalating; and the working environment is uncoordinated.
This may sound like a business from days gone by: years, or even decades ago. But it is not. This is a description of many service businesses now: in the year 2014. Over the past ten years advances in technology have been making the front-office operate increasingly smoothly and cost efficiently through sophisticated CRM, ERP, and EAM software removing swathes of inefficient operating processes. This is saving many businesses time, money, and in some cases, headcount.
But all too often, this investment and focus on improving service-related operating efficiencies stops there: within the contact center, thus neglecting a major aspect of the operation that contributes greatly to customer satisfaction: the field operation.
The chaotic service business is easily remedied through investing in appropriate mobile workforce management technology: optimized scheduling and routing (increasing productivity and reducing mileage and fuel costs); online appointment booking (so customers can book a service call via the internet without needing to telephone); and mobile communications (to communicate jobs information to and from the field technicians using devices such as iPads and smartphones).
In many industries, technology may continue to become increasingly reliable and commoditisation is widespread but the mobile workforce will never disappear. Investment is vital to the ongoing viability of service businesses and it is a game changer: those service organisations that fail to adapt will soon become a thing of the past.
What are your experiences of modern mobile workforce management solutions?