2 steps to boost service quality with field service management

Between a historic labor shortage and increasing customer demands, home service companies are struggling to do more with less. Baby Boomers — who will all be 65 or older by 2030 — are leaving the workforce in droves, and they’re taking their knowledge and skills with them.

And the COVID-19 pandemic has further drained an already shallow labor pool. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record 4 million people quit their jobs in April to seek more flexibility and work-life balance — a 24% increase over the pre-pandemic “quits rate.”

Meanwhile, customers want more timely, personalized service from the companies they do business with. Studies show that 63% of consumers expect companies to know their unique needs, and 58% will switch companies because of poor customer service.

With effective field service management, you can meet your customers’ service and quality expectations without increasing the size of your workforce.

Field service management (FSM) is how your company handles the work your field workers do outside of the office — like installing a new HVAC system or repairing a leaky roof. It includes appointment scheduling, dispatching and routing technicians, managing inventory, and billing and invoicing.

The more efficiently your company can manage field operations, the better you’ll be able to provide your customers with the high-quality service they require.

Here are two ways to ensure effective field service management:

1. Set and track field service KPIs

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are metrics you determine to track company and employee performance and gauge progress toward your business goals.

KPIs should reflect your strategic priorities (e.g., improving efficiency, quality, and customer service) and be measurable and targeted (a specific percentage increase within a specific time frame, for example).

The following KPIs are helpful for home service companies looking to improve quality and customer service:

KPIs to set and track for field service managers

Since field service managers are responsible for providing the support technicians need to do their jobs, their KPIs should focus on processes rather than results.

1. Utilization time: The amount of time a field technician spends on work that is part of their job description.

This is also known as time spent on non-revenue driving tasks like doing paperwork, waiting for equipment, or sitting in internal meetings). Monitoring this metric helps your company understand how productive your employees are and identify opportunities to increase efficiency.

2. Schedule adherence: Whether a field service technician arrives at a job site at the expected time.

To monitor this KPI, which is an important customer service metric, field service organizations often set a window around scheduled start times (e.g., 15 or 30 minutes) for field technicians to arrive.

3. Response and completion times: The average time it takes your field workers to [respond to a call for service](https://www.callrail.com/blog/how-to-improve-lead-response-time/) and complete the job.

This provides a holistic view of all your field service management tasks and can help you identify problems with scheduling, routing, and even training — or if your service technicians are underutilized (if you consistently see faster-than-average response times, for example).

4. Rework percentage: How often jobs need to be revisited because something went wrong with the installation or repair.

Whether because of an inadequately trained technician, inventory error, or communication issue, it’s critical to measure this KPI since rework means the job was not completed on the first visit. Rework can cause significant customer frustration — and high percentages can result in loss of future business.

KPIs to set and track for schedulers and dispatchers

Your dispatchers connect your customers to the services they need, and since timely service is essential to customer satisfaction, that should be the focus of their KPIs.

1. Time to schedule: How long it takes to assign new jobs to field technicians.

It’s important to track this because slower scheduling means decreased utilization and productivity — and ultimately, less revenue because fewer jobs are being scheduled per day.

2. Time to first contact: The amount of time it takes for someone from your team to contact a customer once they’ve reached out to your company.

This is a critical customer experience metric, as 59% of consumers expect a response within 30 minutes of an inquiry.

3. Travel time: How much time it takes field technicians to get to a job site.

High travel times could mean scheduling and routing are not optimized, not enough technicians have the skills to do certain jobs, or your company is taking on too many last-minute jobs.

KPIs to set and track for field technicians

Your field techs are the face of your business, so their KPIs should be directly linked to your customer’s experience.

1. Customer satisfaction: How happy your customers are with your service.

Since field technicians are often the only point of contact with your customers, it’s important to hone their communication skills to ensure every interaction is positive. However, low customer satisfaction can also be rooted in back-office problems such as timing and communication, so it’s important to look at this KPI in context with others, such as time to schedule and rework percentage.

2. Jobs completed: The number of jobs completed successfully.

This is a basic indicator of productivity, and when tracked alongside other KPIs like utilization time and time to schedule, can help organizations address inefficiencies and identify training needs.

3. Repeat visits: How many jobs had to be paused and completed later.

This could be caused by a technician not having access to the job site, the right equipment, or the skills required to finish the job. When compared to the KPIs of other roles, this metric can help uncover underlying problems in your field service operations.

Whether you use spreadsheets or business intelligence software like Sisense, tracking these field service KPIs monthly will help you identify bottlenecks and make adjustments to continually improve your company’s service quality and customer satisfaction.

2. 3 ways to optimize field service management with automation

From field service management software to marketing automation, the market is flush with solutions that can help you improve quality and customer service, as well as maximize your business ROI (return on investment). Automation of specific, time-consuming marketing processes is crucial for home service companies already stretched thin to maintain ideal customer service levels and meet KPIs.

Streamline operations with field service management software

A variety of solutions falling under the field service software umbrella can help your company make the most of your resources. Inventory management software like Inflow can help you maximize the lifecycle of costly equipment while routing and scheduling software like OptimoRoute enables your team to improve KPIs like travel time and first-time fix rate.

Automate your marketing processes

While you’re focused on managing field workers and taking care of customers, marketing automation software (like Marketo) automates repetitive tasks such as sending marketing emails and posting to social media. In turn, you can continually generate and nurture new leads for your service business.

Maximize customer communication

Once you’ve brought in those leads, CallRail’s Call Tracking and Form Tracking help you identify their source so you can invest more in the marketing that’s working the best for your business and understand the customer journey so you can create more personalized service.

Lead Center helps you manage your incoming communication, sending automated responses to customers who reach out to you while notifying you instantly so you can respond before your competitors do.

And Conversation Intelligence uses artificial intelligence (AI) to understand and categorize customer communications — and eliminate transcription errors — so your teams are better informed about what equipment they need before arriving on a job site.

Together, these software solutions can take manual administrative tasks off the plate of your employees so they can dedicate their time to delivering high-quality work and outstanding customer service.

Grow your business with efficient, high-quality service

Field service management and automation can help you improve organizational efficiency and make better use of your resources while ensuring high-quality service and a good customer experience. And happy customers will not only call you the next time they have a home service need, but they’re also more likely to leave positive online reviews and refer their friends and family — helping you grow your revenue and your business.