As your field service business grows, so do the demands on your operations manager. While it’s relatively simple to schedule ten engineers using traditional diary management software, when you get to 20, 30, or 50 engineers, scheduling becomes much more complex.
One operations manager can handle an average of 15 to 20 engineers each day with a manual scheduling system. That doesn’t give them time to do anything else, but the jobs will get scheduled.
However, you’ll find there’s a tipping point where an operations manager can no longer schedule engineers using just their savvy and intuition. Jobs start slipping through the cracks, engineers run late, and one cancellation call can throw the entire schedule into chaos.
Who’s affected most by this? Your customers.
We researched the most common scheduling-related customer satisfaction problems you’ll encounter as your field service business expands. And because we want to give you solutions, not just problems, we created a free downloadable report on how automated systems are helping growing field service businesses streamline their scheduling.
How Manual Scheduling Systems Decrease Customer Satisfaction
Manual Scheduling Problem #1: Your engineers run late.
Manual Scheduling Problem #2: Customers don’t get the engineer with the right skills for the job.
Manual Scheduling Problem #3: Your engineers get stressed out, increasing service recalls and creating communication issues with customers.
Manual Scheduling Problem #4: You have trouble complying with SLA agreements.
Manual Scheduling Problem #5: Your customers can’t book their own appointments.
Read on to find out exactly how these problems arise...and the solution.
The more jobs you have, the more difficult it is to create efficient schedules and routes. Diary management software, and Google Maps and Bing Maps, are great when you have three engineers—but not when you have thirty. Adding to the complexity is that you never know exactly how long a job will take. Emergencies happen, and just one emergency call can throw off your carefully laid-out schedule.
The result? Your engineers start running late to jobs more and more often, for example when a job takes longer than expected and the engineer has to race to the next job across town. Late engineers are one of customers’ top complaints about HVAC, electrical, plumbing and heating, fire and security, and property management businesses.
As you hire on more engineers to keep up with your growing business, keeping track of their skills and certifications gets to be a challenge. Who has the best customer service skills to handle a finicky customer? Who has the right certification to work on that boiler or alarm system? And what if that engineer has gone home sick or is already at another job location?
When you have a few engineers, you can rely on your operations manager’s intuition and their knowledge of the engineers to get the right engineer to the right job at the right time. But after a certain point—and you’ll know it when you hit it—scheduling engineers manually means your customers might be assigned engineers who aren’t the right fit for the job.
Sending the wrong engineer leads to higher recall rates, communication problems...and unhappy customers.
Trying to keep up with growing customer demand using a manual system instead of intelligent scheduling software? Chances are, your engineers are overworked and stressed out because they’re running from job to job with no downtime, and because the constantly changing schedule is giving them mental whiplash.
Stressed-out engineers are bad news for your customers, too. According to the NHS, common symptoms of stress include irritability, anxiety, overwhelm, and difficulty making decisions. We don’t need to tell you that these symptoms are not conducive to positive customer communications.
This is yet another way that sticking with a manual scheduling system once you’ve grown beyond it costs more money than upgrading your scheduling.
Service level agreements are a great way to build customer trust in your business. The typical SLA covers response times, according to the TechDonut website, which means that you agree to respond within a certain amount of time when a customer needs help.
So what happens when you’re using a manual scheduling system and your business is slammed with jobs? When a customer suddenly needs a repair according to the SLA, you might not be able to meet the timeline—which means you’ll incur whatever penalty your agreement specifies.
Not only will you have to pay a penalty, but your customer will lose trust in your field service business: You agreed that you’d respond to requests in four hours, but it took five hours for an engineer to arrive because your operations manager couldn’t revise the schedule quickly enough. If this happens enough times, you start losing customers and develop a bad reputation.
With traditional diary management software, the only way a customer can schedule a job is to call. This is pretty inconvenient if a night-owl customer decides in the middle of the night that they’d like to schedule that service call, or even if a customer simply prefers the ease of online scheduling.
According to LSA Insider, as of 2016, 40% of appointments through the appointment platform Pingup were being booked after hours. ‘And among the 60% during the day, a percentage of that group doesn’t want to get on the phone and make a call,’ adds author Greg Sterling.
If a customer prefers to book appointments online, offering only phone appointments can chase them away. That’s why it’s important to offer customers scheduling options like an online portal, which work best with automated scheduling setups like intelligent scheduling software.
Don’t let your scheduling system be a roadblock to your field service business’s growth. ‘If a service company isn’t using an automated software, they are missing the boat,’ says Amber Gaige, Vice President of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Dallas, Texas. ‘Technology is ever-changing, and customers expect a streamlined, effective, polished interaction.’
To learn how intelligent scheduling is changing the way field service businesses like yours schedule their jobs, download our free report below.