Combating Murphy’s Law of Field Service

Have you ever noticed how the filling station rarely has any vehicles in front of it when you don’t need it, but on the very day you are running late and out of fuel there’s a twenty-car line at each pump? The same ‘Murphy’s Law’ that comes into play when you need to get in and out of a gas station in a hurry can also wreak havoc on a field service tech’s day when a customer calls in with a critical need. The multiple problems that inevitably accompany any emergency add enormous amounts of stress to an already stressful job. And while dispatching software might not be able to prevent Murphy’s Law of Field Service from kicking in, it will help alleviate the stress. It might also help get that urgent call fixed a little sooner too.

Find More Time to Repair Equipment

When it gets crazy busy in the service industry, a lot of time and effort can go into coordinating the temporary influx of repair calls. The typical tech might spend as much time on the phone – contacting customers, coworkers, and maybe even the boss – as he or she does working on equipment. This is time that would be better served letting software facilitate the workload bubble. So, for example, when a tech informs the system that they won’t be able to meet an ETA, rapid reallocation kicks in, with routing optimization to find the closest available substitute. That person is then given the urgent call, allowing the original tech to finish whatever it was they were working on without having to stop and make a bunch of phone calls.

And of course, the time spent sorting out scheduling instead of concentrating on the difficult problem at hand also has a tendency to make techs lose focus, and can drag out the service call even longer.

Avoid the Territory Build-ups

Before field service management software came to my industry, we each had territories and assigned customers. Invariably, Murphy’s Law would assert itself every few weeks and I’d have more service calls than I could deal with, while some of my teammates would have nothing to do. As someone who takes pride in pulling their weight, I would try to handle all the calls myself, the result being that many of my customers ended up waiting longer than they should have had to wait. But now the team-scheduling component of the software ensures that service calls are distributed equally throughout my workgroup. I am less stressed and my customers get the response times they deserve.

Digital Logging can Save Time

Another time-wasting aspect of a service rep’s job is chasing down information about ongoing issues. When you hear a client say, “We’ve had Bob out here three times before and it still isn’t fixed,” you have to hope and pray that Bob answers his cell and that he has a good memory. If he is on vacation or can’t remember what he did to repair the issue, your only recourse is to drive to the account and read the logbook –unless of course your team is using the digital log feature now available on most field service solutions. The ability to read a service log on a smartphone or tablet before driving to an account can also help determine if you are bringing the right parts along to complete the job.

There are many benefits to field service software, but none of them have helped me more than the freedom to concentrate on a difficult problem. This is because I have peace of mind knowing that my other customers are being taken care of and that I no longer have to stop what I’m doing to make a call.

About the author: Donald B. Stephens is a field service technician with 30 years of experience with the Xerox Corporation. He is also a freelance writer, blogger, novelist and humorist. You can contact him via email:


Topics: Field Service

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