Customers today have a booming desire for on-demand service. When something breaks or they just need assistance, they want help that is available to them immediately. This change in customer expectations has caused field service organizations to shift their focus to providing new ways to deliver customer satisfaction. One of the ways to ensure customer satisfaction is by outsourcing the field service force.
The phrase outsourcing has been floating around in business sectors for a while now. In the past, it was often negatively associated with meaning passing on an entire workload to an outside third party. However, nowadays, it also means finding new ways to use other sources of labor, in addition to your fully employed workforce.
Thanks to new technology and software, outsourcing is a viable option for field service companies.
Here are a few reasons to outsource your field service force:
PROS OF OUTSOURCING SERVICE FORCE
Supply and Demand Flexibility
As all businesses know, demand for service does not exist on a flat, consistent line every week. Service demand varies, rising higher at busy times, and dipping lower in slower weeks. If you outsource your service force by using subcontractors or crowdsourcing, it allows you to more easily adjust to your customer’s needs, especially during peak seasons. And since field service management apps are available, you’ll be able to make sure that your customer service levels remain high by managing your outsourced service workers and making sure they’re doing quality work that is up to your company’s standards.
Workforce management software also allows your back office to dispatch subcontracted technicians more efficiently, while having a mobile field service management app ensures that each type of tech - whether it’s one of your technicians, a subcontracted tech, or an on-demand tech - will have all of the relevant information necessary to successfully complete the service call in the palm of their hand.
Ability to Use IoT Connected Machines Wisely
Connected machines and predictive maintenance allow field service organizations to be able to anticipate customer needs. With smart machines, field service organizations will be able to monitor a machine’s status and see when it’s going to fail before the failure actually happens. In this way, the organization can anticipate demand, make future plans, and get outsourced workers ready to go to the site in advance.
Beat the Competition
Outsourcing is yet another way to surpass the competition in field service. In an Aberdeen research study, 21% of best-in-class organizations reported that outsourcing their field service workforce was a favored way to meet demand faster than their competition. And more than 64% of respondents said they’ve outsourced work in the past. If a competitor organization only has their own field service techs who are always scheduled out, and your business has third-party and on-demand workers in addition to your regular techs, guess which organization is going to have a tech available to help the customer sooner rather than later? Outsourcing makes service more efficient and faster.
Provide Service Instantly
With outsourcing, you are able to help your customers very fast. When you ensure that you have third-party contractors and/or an on-demand workforce that has been vetted for the type of work they need to do, you multiply your labor pool. And when you eliminate long appointment wait times, customers are happier, which in turn, builds customer loyalty.
Create a Diverse Workforce
Field service has been challenged with an ageing workforce and a need to attract and retain more younger workers. An Aberdeen report, “Emerging Workforce in the Field: Tech-Savvy to Technician” revealed that only one-fifth of the present-day workforce is under 30. And organizations have learned that young workers prefer more flexibility and technology use in their work, than veteran techs. However, even though more field service workers are needed, it’s very expensive and takes a lot of time to train new field service technicians. So rather than working hard to recruit young, full-time workers, it might be easier to have a supplemental workforce of new workers in the mix, who are trained or already proficient in the field, and are ready to work when demand rises. And if service requests get slow, you don’t have to worry about letting them go or struggling to retain them, since they’re flexible, on-demand workers.
CONS OF OUTSOURCING SERVICE
One of the biggest reasons organizations today may be wary of implementing an outsourcing strategy is that they worry they’ll lose control over their workers and the quality of their work. But that’s not the best way to look at it.
When third-party workers are given tools, such as mobile field service software that provides them with guided checklists and instruction manuals, it ensures they are equipped to provide the same level of service a full-time technician would. Even when outsourcing, your company is still in control of managing all of the field service workers.
WAYS TO OUTSOURCE SERVICE
While there are different types of outsourcing, crowdsourcing field service is a great way for field service organizations to supplement their workforce. Most people aren’t set on having a specific worker from your office come to service their machine. All customers care about is that broken machines are fixed and that there’s little downtime. It doesn’t matter what the employment status of the technician is, as long as he or she completes the fix.
Even if your organization offers self-service options, a recent study done by crowdsourced service startup Mila on their service “Swisscom Friends” showed that 28% of customers lack the technical skills to fix a problem themselves. On top of that, 92% of respondents--an overwhelming majority-- booked a member of the crowd for service and stated that they would be repeat customers, who would recommend crowdsourced service to other people.
Find a Third-Party Service Partner
In another Aberdeen study, 64% of the companies surveyed said they’d outsourced some daily field service tasks to subcontractors in the past. For companies that’d like another method on top of crowdsourcing, depending on third-party partners for their outsourcing needs might be a good route. For example, a company might be based in London, but has a large amount of customers in Barcelona and Zurich. These businesses may partner up with local service organizations in their biggest markets to deliver service to those customers locally, rather than opening up a new office or hiring more workers in those cities.
Divide and Conquer Field Service
Another way companies choose to outsource is by assigned outsourced workers to preventative maintenance calls, which lets veteran, full-time workers focus on more complex, large service jobs. That way your most experienced techs are being used in a more efficient way, and all of your customers are happy because the service is still meeting their needs.
Organizations that found different ways to outsource service saw positive results, including developing strong relationships with customers and the ability to complete a higher number of service calls. Whatever method you decide to use, it’s important for your techs and outsourced workers to function as a team that wants to provide great customer service to your clients in the smartest, fastest, and more efficient way possible.
For more information and deep understanding of the Crowd Service concept we suggest to read the following white paper: