Field service productivity has seen a huge boost with the growth of FSM software. Being connected makes everything easier – dispatch software makes scheduling jobs more efficient while GPS mapping services mean you know where everyone is, and can attend the next customer as quickly as possible. For the technician in the field, being connected to headquarters through the cloud means much less paperwork and easier management of jobs throughout the day.
Mobility has clearly been a revolution in field services, meaning your techs are never stranded without the knowledge they need, their schedules are optimized, and customers are getting faster service.
Always connected can cause problems for field service productivity
Writing for fieldservice.com, Donald B Stephens, a field service veteran, highlights the main issue. How do you stop your smartphone distracting you when you’re on a job? This isn’t an issue that just affects field service technicians, obviously, but it can affect anyone – including you! Smartphone distraction is something anyone can relate to, but when your business is all about keeping your customer happy, a distracted technician jeopardizes efficiency, safety, and customer happiness – and no one wants that!
So what kind of problems can crop up? Well, apart from the default phone notifications – everybody has been distracted by the ping of an email or the trumpet of a message, there’s also the risk of being distracted by funny, important or interesting emails and articles, especially if the mobile device is set up for both personal and professional messages. As a result, it’s very important to have smart company policies to minimize distractions.
Tips for focused field service technicians
It’s important that your techs are allowed to focus when they’re working. As has been definitively proven in recent years, most people can’t multi-task, and are much more efficient doing just one thing at a time. Make sure your workforce know they don’t have to respond to every text, email or call immediately. Finish the job you are doing, and then attend to your smartphone. A boss who expects immediate responses is actually making customer service, where it matters, worse!
Stephens also suggests changing company structure, so field service techs can focus just on getting to the job and completing it as quickly as possible. You can make office employees responsible for ‘pre-screening’ jobs, contacting customers to tell them when your technician will arrive. With mobility software, your office knows where techs are, and when they will arrive,a allowing them to accurately pass on information. When field service workers are also responsible for talking to customers before a job, that’s time they could be spending actually getting there instead.
It’s not easy to disconnect, but it could be good practice to tell your workforce to silence their devices when they’re on a job. Better focus leads to increased field service productivity, and your customers will be happier getting this undivided attention. Encouraging your team to make blocks of time for responding to messages can also help. Taking a few minutes to deal with all your emails at once is better than answering them every moment they arrive.
Is professional and personal a good field service mix?
Have long, hard think about whether or not you are going to allow your field technicians to mix personal and professional on the job. There are various options for this, all with different pros and cons – techs can have two phones, one for work and one for home, or they can install their professional software – like Synchroteam’s mobile apps – on their usual phones. Be aware that this can cause extra security risks, however, even though some employees will find it a more palatable option.
Also bear in mind that it is hard to monitor activity on personal phones, and certainly much harder to regulate than when employees work from an office. Whether or not access to personal email and messages is actually a bad thing is debatable, but at the very least, encourage workers to voluntarily apply the same restrictions to their personal communications as they do their professional – there’s no need to reply immediately except in case of emergency, and consider leaving replies to a specific block of “answering” time – and preferably during their break!