Automating Field Service for Improved Customer Service

By Kerry Hope, Business Development Manager, Magic Software South Africa

Technology can empower an organization’s most important attribute – the ability to satisfy its customers. There is an abundance of field service software with dispatch, depot repair, and inventory management functionality that can help improve overall efficiency. However, in order to ensure customer satisfaction, software also needs to have the capability to produce reports that can be used to evaluate how well field service agents are performing.

There are several different types of information to monitor and it can be difficult to pinpoint which data has the highest impact on customer satisfaction.

Here are four different types of KPIs that can be used to assess the quality and efficiency of field service delivery.

  1. Problem resolution turnaround time: Expressed as absolute numbers, averages and percentages. This data should be reliable, repeatable and relevant — and collected without unusual amounts of effort. Examples include average response and repair times, level of compliance with service level agreements (SLA), and mean time to repair rate (MTTR), which measures the latency of the entire process from service request to completion.
  2. Customer’s willingness to recommend: Subjective assessments of the quality of field service expressed numerically. One of the most popular examples is Net Promoter Score: your customers’ willingness to become a sponsor and recommend your organization to friends and colleagues. Originated by Bain & Company, it is a faster, more responsive alternative to annual customer satisfaction surveys and is calculated by taking the percentage of promoters (both 9s and 10s on a 10-point scale) minus the percentage of detractors (0 through 6 on a 10-point scale). While customer loyalty isn’t the sole growth factor, Bain & Company determined that, on average, companies with higher Net Promoter Scores grow at more than twice the rate of competitors.
  3. Productivity ratios: Performance expressed in terms of a ratio. For example, percentage of billable technician time. This measurement tracks how much time your techs are actually providing service to your customers rather than filling out timesheets, attending meetings or handling other activities unrelated to productive work. Other important field service metrics include First-Time-Fix Rate (FTR), which measures how often technicians successfully close a ticket on the first call of which is dependent on having the right parts based on relevant available information.
  4. Processes complexity: Looks at the combination of people, products and systems to simplify processes to improve performance. This is one of the simplest metrics to measure — and also one of the most crucial. It breaks down your organization’s average response time into the number of distinct steps that it takes to go from the service request to the final invoicing. For instance, the customer calls to request service, a dispatcher manually enters a work order into the system, a work order is then generated, the field tech is assigned and dispatched, then the tech arrives at the customer’s site and completes an additional form, and so on. Breaking down service into a series of steps helps identify how many different systems and people are involved in identifying redundant tasks and areas that can benefit from automation.

Another use for KPIs is to identify opportunities to connect and streamline processes between systems. For example, integration between ERP and Field Service Management systems can help reduce MTTR, and improve efficiency of dispatching, route optimization and field tech productivity. Third party integration platforms can provide the needed flexibility to collect and compare data to create a meaningful analysis of field service activities.

These four categories of KPIs can help highlight bottlenecks and point to process improvements needed for operational excellence. Measuring and improving operational excellence on an ongoing basis is important for any industry. In the field service industry, benchmarking all four dimensions of operational excellence is even more critical, since excellent customer service is essential for a company’s growth and continued success.

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