Scheduling jobs or assigning field agents to open jobs is one of the most critical field service functions. Scheduling involves matching the right agent to the right job and dispatching him to the worksite in the shortest possible time. Successful field service operations depend on getting scheduling right.
But almost one in two field service providers still make ad hoc arrangements. They use whiteboards or tools such as MS- Outlook or Google Calendar for scheduling. These tools are minimal and error-prone.
When a customer inquires, the call center executives collect the details, such as the contact information, the issue, and the preferred time slot for visits. Then, they pass the details to the scheduler. The scheduler often assigns a field agent based on a guesstimate and prayer that nothing goes wrong!
Work orders keep coming, and the scheduler has to match the best field agent for the job. They have to consider various parameters, such as:
Finding a suitable agent considering these permutations is hard enough. Today’s business ecosystem is fluid. Customers cancel work orders on a whim. Field agents take time off or fall sick, forcing replacements. New, urgent, or top-priority work orders may come in, causing a change in the existing schedule. The scheduler is always on his toes. Often, serious mistakes such as two field crews turning up for a single job or another work order occur.
The problem does not end when the scheduler finally assigns the work order to a suitable agent and dispatches him to the worksite.
The field agent often goes in blind, without complete information about the issue. More often than not, the field agent schedules a revisit, as the problem may differ from what the customer perceived. A revisit wrecks efficiency, delays resolution, and degrades the customer experience. Aberdeen Group estimates 88% of the top field service enterprises resolve the issue on the first visit. Conversely, not fixing the problem on the first visit annoys the customer.
Using end-to-end field service software takes the friction out of schedule. It also delivers several other benefits.
Automated scheduling software streamlines scheduling. The intelligent algorithm with the software assigns open work orders to field agents. The algorithm refers to the skills database and shortlists agents with the certificates and skills for the tasks specified in the work order. Next, it considers the location of the agents and assigns the nearest agents to the job to reduce wasteful commute. The algorithm also considers other factors, such as the working hours, holidays, other tasks assigned to the agent, agents’ upcoming off-days and leaves, and more. Human schedulers may either approve or override such automatically generated schedules.
Automation of the scheduling process using field service software:
Empowering field agents with a mobile app delivers multiple benefits. The app helps field agents:
Mobility also enables real-time tracking of field agents.
A field service software enables supervisors, and even customers, to track the field agent live. The field management suite traces the geolocational capabilities of the agent’s smartphone app.
Real-time tracking makes explicit the location of the field agent and the ETA to the worksite. Supervisors monitor real-time location to detect slack or intervene to resolve issues that cause delay. For instance, if a field agent is spending more time than usual at a worksite, the supervisor may reach out and identify the reason. Likewise, a delay owing to unexpected work could delay downstream tasks. The scheduler may then reschedule such tasks or inform the next-in-line customer of the delay.
Customers rest easy when they access the real-time status of the field agent assigned to them. Knowing their agent is on the way reduces calls to customer support agents. As a result, the customer remains happy and condones delays as long he remains in the loop.
Lack of deep insights hampers field service supervisors. Real-time tracking offers visibility to this huge blind spot.
An end-to-end field service management software automates scheduling, dispatching, inspections, invoicing, and other field service tasks. ReachOut is a perfect example.
ReachOut streamlines scheduling. The suite offers several advanced capabilities over and above the basic functionality. For instance, intuitive drag-and-drop actions make assigning field agents easy. Advanced scheduling options allow assigning jobs to teams and specific duties to each team member. Automatic notifications alert field agents and other stakeholders of any changes instantly. They never miss important communication, such as the new job assignment, changes to a job, reminders of upcoming appointments, and more.
ReachOut Suite’s complete visibility and access to all relevant information make it easy for field agents to reach their worksite fast. Intuitive dashboards consider customer information, service history, and other relevant information. Integrated connectors and APIs link with other enterprise and third-party databases securely. Comprehensive, real-time information takes the guesswork out of scheduling and dispatching technicians.
Integration with maps guides the field agents through the fastest route to their worksite. They proceed to the worksite with the most likely tools and spares, improving first-time fix rates. Information on the customer and service history enables field crews to hit the ground running and complete the fix.
ReachOut unlocks several other possibilities as well!
Field agents may upload photos and take e-signature from customers as proof of work completion. Stylized forms boost productivity and enable branding of the business at the same time. Email configuration makes reporting seamless. If work completes early, the scheduler dispatches the agent to the next customer without sticking to the rigid schedule set at the start of the day.
Integrated analytics reveal insights related to travel and work time and work patterns. For example, schedulers may identify the average time before committing to a customer. Managers track field agents who exceed the average time and identify the underlying issues for the slack. Likewise, they derive best practices by reviewing work patterns of field agents who complete tasks fast.
ReachOut field service management software provides dynamic scheduling. The suite also unlocks possibilities to speed up things, boost productivity, and deliver a competitive advantage. Contact our experts for a quick demo.