How to Reduce Field Service Costs to Meet Optimization Goals

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  • reducing technician headcount
  • minimizing hours of service
  • outsourcing to third-party contractors.

Three areas proven to reduce field service costs

  • Lower Volume — remotely or proactively address customers’ issues to decrease the need for truck rolls
  • Shorten Time — help technicians resolve customers’ issue faster
  • Optimize Staffing — make sure technicians are utilized as efficiently as possible

Techniques to reduce volume of technician visits

Here are several techniques that have helped many field service organisations reduce their technician dispatch rate, directly lowering their operational costs significantly.

Resolve more issues remotely

There are many fixes that are easy enough for an untrained person to carry out — with the right guidance. Enabling a remote or virtual technician to guide the customer toward a resolution without visiting their home is a model that has proven invaluable during the current pandemic. In fact, remote video support can be provided by technicians — even 3rd party technicians — working from any location: a back office, home (WFH mode), or vehicle (drop and go mode). Aside from reducing field service expenses by lowering dispatch costs, virtual technicians boost safety levels, improve first-time fix rates, and increase customer satisfaction.

Shift to performance-based SLAs

Many field service organizations are shifting to an operating model that focuses on performance-based SLAs, where the priority is keeping customer equipment running at all costs. According to a 2019 Gartner survey, 19% of service companies already offer these contracts, and another 26% expected to do so within 12 months. This often requires a greater reliance on automated remote monitoring tools and remote assistance tools, which ultimately translates into a hands-off approach that is so critical during today’s safety-conscious world. Aside from reducing the volume of customer issues, this model also simplifies contractual obligations for customers — instead of worrying about the details of service plans, the field service provider takes whatever steps necessary to avoid issues or resolve them as soon as possible.

Enhance collaboration with contact center

Contact center agents and field service technicians have traditionally been two separate departments. Enhancing collaboration between the two will enable field services to benefit from the contact center agent’s knowledge of policies, customer information, and product details, all essential information that helps resolve customer issues without dispatching a technician. Cross-department collaboration can be achieved by implementing shared knowledge bases, shared customer histories, and even joint triage, an ideal option when the customer service agent is unable to fix the problem but waiting for a technician to arrive on-site is not an option.

Utilize predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance refers to the monitoring and collection of data on a product or service’s operational conditions so that companies can foresee possible outages or failures before they occur. This makes it possible to address any issues before they cause damage and require technician dispatches.

Techniques to optimize time

If each aspect of technician dispatches is shortened, it all adds up enabling each technician to accomplish more each day. Here are some tried-and-true methods of optimizing a field service technician’s time.

Improve scheduling with AI

According to an industry survey, 52% of companies still use manual methods for most of their field service tasks, such as scheduling and work planning. These manual activities almost always have a negative effect on time optimization, and therefore operational costs. AI technology overcomes these hurdles by automatically dispatching jobs to the right technician based on past history, skills, location, priority, tools, and availability. Gartner predicts that by 2025, algorithms and bots will schedule over 70% of field service work at automated schedule optimization-dependent field service providers, up from less than 25% in 2019 — a trend that will further help reduce field service costs.

Shorten tech visits with remote expert support

It is not uncommon for field service technicians to need some on-site knowledge support while out on a job, whether due to a brand-new device he’s not yet encountered or troubleshooting an issue he’s not familiar with. Allowing the technician access to a remote expert enables him to benefit from prompt and efficient support that ensures the job is done right the first time. Quick first-time resolutions mean shortened time spent on customer site and less time spent researching the right solution.

Make knowledge easily accessible

Using technology to easily connect off-site field service technicians with in-office expertise and data can ensure faster and more effective service. Incorporating intelligent search functions into field service knowledge bases using machine learning can enable the knowledge base to learn over time to deliver the most valuable information related to the technician’s specific search query. It can also help prioritize technician’s knowledge based on individual customer data or history, allowing him/her to assist the customer faster without requiring manual searches or long wait times.

Techniques to optimize staffing

Each employee only has a certain number of hours in their workday. By optimizing how they spend those hours, a field service organisation is getting more work accomplished without any further expenses.

Enhance technician utilization

Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) estimates the average technician utilization rate at just 73%. This means that technicians are spending too much time on non-revenue generating tasks, reducing overall business profitability. Working to raise your technician utilization rate allows businesses to get more done with less staff, impacting productivity, and profitability when the operational expenses are kept in check.

Measurement is key

Decreasing field service costs is imperative, especially now, but whether financial goals are achieved by reducing the need for truck rolls, helping technicians resolve the customer’s issues faster, or ensuring technicians are utilized in the most efficient manner possible, the change must be continuously evaluated to ensure ongoing positive results.

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TechSee

TechSee

TechSee revolutionizes the customer support domain by providing the first cognitive visual support solution powered by augmented reality and AI. www.techsee.me