For many companies, making sure that field technicians always travel on the most efficient routes seems to be an unsolvable problem. There are just too any factors that are impossible to predict and control. But the increases in productivity and the resulting savings are crucial for business success.
With field service management software, service companies have new opportunities improve their processes to optimize travel routes and increase productivity.
3 good reasons to optimize travel routes
It’s always difficult to ask your field teams to change the way they do things. To ease the transition, ask your field service management solution provider whether they offer a customer success manager to help you manage the evolution. Once you look beyond the investment this would take, you will quickly discover countless ways to increase productivity and grow your business.
Happy, successful field teams are good for business
Poorly planned travel routes are hard on your employees and your business. Whether it’s excessively long distances between customers, mixed up appointments, or delays and unsolved problems that frustrate customers, these burdens hinder your teams’ ability to work efficiently. And they diminish morale.
Charles Ditandy and Benoît Meyronin popularized a concept called the “symmetry of attention”. It argues that the quality of the relationship you develop with your employees is directly reflected in your customer relationships. Their thesis is particularly applicable to field teams that are in direct contact with customers every day.
When you can improve travel routes for your technicians, inspectors or auditors, their work life is easier and more enjoyable. They avoid unnecessary travel. Their schedules are optimized for efficiency. And they have access to all of the information and skills needed for smooth and successful service delivery. You’re effectively giving them the means to deliver the best possible level of service to your customers.
Better service increases customer satisfaction
Customers also benefit when your company operates smoothly and efficiently. And customer satisfaction is one of the top metrics for any company that delivers a service. The quality of service delivery determines the relationship customers have with your company — whether they are loyal, or whether they leave you.
However, optimizing travel routes is not just about successfully resolving customer problems. More efficient routes also help you become more responsive so you can meet contractual commitments. You have far better ability to ensure that technicians arrive on time and that customers are always informed about service status.
Efficient service management saves money
Improving your first-time fix rate is not just about increasing customer satisfaction. It also boosts your productivity.
A 2013 Aberdeen Group study shows that if a problem is not resolved during the first visit, an average of 1.5 additional service calls are required to fix the problem. Depending on the industry you’re in, the cost of resolving an issue can balloon from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Software that helps you keep your operations running at optimal efficiency can also help you keep costs under control.
Paperless processes are key to increasing productivity
Moving toward 100% paperless processes for service management is the best way to start immediately improving productivity. According to a 2015 Aberdeen Group study of mobility in the service sector, the most successful companies use paper for only 27% of their processes. In the worst examples, the rate jumps to 35%. It’s the mobility aspect that makes the difference.
Move to real-time service management
Paper-based administrative tasks are one of the most time-consuming burdens in any company. A Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, such as the one offered by Praxedo, dramatically lightens the load on your team. Each team member has access to all of the information they need on any device, from computers to smartphones.
The shift to paperless processes brings multiple benefits. The costs are far lower compared the costs of paper and printing, not to mention the labor required to manage all of this physical data. You can also avoid loss of documents and other mishaps that can result in more than one copy of a document. Data is shared in real time and is always accessible to those who need it.
Gain new visibility into field operations
While it may not be obvious at first, using field service management software to move away from paper-based management of travel routes gives you the visibility needed to improve productivity.
Gone are the days when double carbon forms are forgotten in the truck or lost between trips. When dispatchers open the web version of the Praxedo management solution, they can see the schedule for every technician. When technicians have GPS capabilities on their mobile devices, dispatchers know exactly where they are, at what times, and can check timestamps to verify that service calls are occurring on schedule.
You’ll have valuable new insight into technician productivity so you can maximize the number of service calls each technician is assigned. You’ll also be able to see where objectives could not be achieved and adapt your processes accordingly.
Selecting the right service management software
More and more companies are recognizing that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions can help them increase efficiency and save money. According the Cloud Computing Providers Barometer, the cloud market in France rose from 0.9 billion euros in 2007 to 5.9 billion in 2016. For 66% of respondents, the number one reason for their move to the cloud is the ability to reduce costs.
While there are a number of SaaS field service management solutions that can help you optimize travel routes, those with the features described below are best able to help you increase productivity.
Artificial intelligence automatically optimizes schedules
Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly essential in every industry and field service management is no exception. For example, with features such as the Smart Scheduler from Praxedo, algorithms plan the ideal travel routes for technicians, taking factors such as business requirements, location and traffic into consideration.
In addition to more intelligent scheduling, innovative service management software also allows you to develop schedules for regular maintenance tasks to help avoid equipment failures. Preventing breakdowns helps to increase productivity and improve customer relationships.
Integration with enterprise systems enables automation
The ideal route optimization software integrates fully with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions so you can full take advantage of paperless processes and automated information sharing.
Look for software that integrates smoothly with commonly used applications such as Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics and SAP. This allows data to flow easily from one application to another. With automated information flows, your field teams and your customers enjoy better communications. And you can improve customer service by automating administrative tasks such as creating and sending invoices.
Mobility connects people
Service management software that supports mobility is essential to ensure that everyone in your organization has access to the latest service routes and schedules at any time, and from any device.