Coming face-to-face with one of the greatest field service challenges

Streamlined workflows provide a springboard for service excellence, but why is this so difficult to master?

Since submerging myself in the world of field service I’ve always known that workflows were a complex myriad of processes and often the cause of many a headache for those managing them. But until I started to write a white paper on the subject, I hadn’t truly understood the intricacy involved and the ramifications ineffective workflows would have on a service organisation.

No matter how workflows operate – whether paper based, using a spreadsheet, or driven by technology – they are the catalyst of every organisation. It is the workflows which enable field staff to work productivity, the workflows which achieve efficiency, and the workflows which provide the ability to deliver an outstanding customer experience which will set an organisation apart from its competitors.

But aside from the everyday challenges that jeopardise the effectiveness of workflows – such as traffic delays, sickness and customer cancellations – organisations must overcome historical boundaries which are suppressing workflow efficiency.

Today many organisations use technology to help manage workflows. Such technology gives visibility and real-time information, helping to rationalise workflows and deliver service excellence. But historically, field service units have been decentralised. They were run as mini or district geographic businesses with little oversight for head office, because this was the most effective way to deliver the service at the time.

But customer expectations changed and technological developments brought new opportunities to the way service organisations manage their operations. As a result, organisations had to change. They had to break the silo-led way of working and bring everyone together to work towards a single goal. But such a transition has an impact on many aspects of a business and has therefore held some organisations back. The service industry is subsequently faced with a large proportion of businesses reliant on paper, whiteboards or other manual methods such as Excel and Quickbooks to handle all their field service needs. Such methods breed inconsistency and poor data quality means they are unable to fully assess the effectiveness of their field service, let alone hone and improve it.

Although history has a lot to answer for, it is also evident that those organisations which have introduced a more modern way of working have their own obstacles. A lack of resource and realisation of the importance of workflows seems to be holding them back too. Research by the Service Council found that 35% of service organisations have not conducted a field service process review in the previous 12 months. So how do these companies know if they are delivering the best service possible? They don’t. Instead they are trundling along, hoping that their competitors aren’t performing better than them.

Although the attitude of hope can be motivating in its own right, a clear direction of what needs to be improved is a far more inspiring goal to chase. Therefore, before we even begin to tackle how to improve workflows to better the customer experience, I urge organisations to take stock of their current situation. Are the most effective and beneficial methods of managing operations in place? If so, do regular reviews take place to ensure continual improvement?

For more information on how to avoid the common workflow pitfalls, download our free whitepaper. Alternatively, you can find out more about how Oneserve helps to maintain effective workflows which deliver the customer experience you want to deliver by requesting a demo.