by Andrew Thomas, Managing Director
COVID-19: Modus Operandi
The ruthless COVID-19 repercussions are very much evident around the world. The new normal is changing the way businesses operate and the field service industry is no different. Even though “appliance services” are considered “essential services”, people likely avoid service providers visiting their locations (as it may fuel the spread of the virus).
A new demand for unique and enhanced service from field service providers has risen, which must keep the safety of customers and employees as the first priority. Many consumers may not want agents in close proximity to their homes. Others, with everyone working at home, are in a crucial need for appliances servicing. At the same time, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and independent service providers (ISPs) are adapting to the changes to make sure that customers and technicians are safe and sound.
The governments of the world have issued multiple guidelines to tackle COVID-19 impacts. Even so, there is a decline in demand for services. There was a 12% decrease in the daily call volume, according to one ISP. Despite all the red flags, most of the businesses have barely made any plans to control how and where their third party boundary spanners will operate even though it is ultimately their call. Field service businesses are counting on ISPs to take immediate safety and health precautions, believing in them to take care of their businesses based on what is safe and practical.
Experts predict that the economy may incur a cost of $3 trillion due to a sudden shift in the market trend – from hindrance in the supply chain to travel restrictions. Service providers are digging deep to strategize for slumps, especially for the sake of its most critical resource — its employees. Despite the leaders being experts in handling crises, there are a few key factors that may shackle their performance in providing proper service in this dynamic scenario. This is where businesses should act to manage the crisis in the service industry caused by the pandemic.
Preparing for a Shortage of On-Site Workers
With the evidence of declining baby boomers and a high employment rate, there is a scarcity in the field service talent pool. Track records of COVID-19’s impact show that there is a shortage of available workers. If the higher authority calls for lockdown and workers who have symptoms of cold are advised to self-quarantine, consumers will immediately experience a lack of proper service.
However, similar to most business challenges, if organizations are proactive at making contingency plans, they may have a higher probability of bouncing back from a crisis such as COVID-19. Now is a time to ponder on how your business can calibrate a workforce up or down at the earliest notice.
Thinking Outside of the Box
One of the ways to make use of the resources at hand is to use technology. Imagine the mediums through with diagnosis are done remotely. Although complicated field works can’t be done from a distance, analyzing the issue and planning the entire operation prior to sending an expert infield can reduce the cost drastically by cutting down on repeat visits. Furthermore, it opens the possibility of completing jobs that are less complex in the comfort of their home.
In the case of a decreasing workforce (due to multiple factors caused by COVID-19), opt for technology that enables higher access to key data so more employees can work together and create synergy. When the workforce is changing, it can become the keystone that lets you evade significant disruption.
Understanding the Supply Chain & Manage Your Assets
Can you ensure the stability of your supply chain even if your workforce stays static? If Apple, one of the world’s most prominent companies, suffered due to their loss of suppliers in China, it is highly likely that such a case may affect you too!
Conservation of parts is as important as competent parts management and inventory systems. For instance, replacement of equipment should be done when truly needed to maximize efficiency. According to field service research, not enough thought is put into servicing a machine. For example, inexperienced technicians discard tools that are repairable, or simply use the trial and error method by changing parts unless a problem is solved. If your technician can correct the core issue on the first go, one of the pros is a drop-in parts usage.
Communicating with Customers Early and Often
Coming back to the previous point that has been established, don’t wait until a challenge becomes a catastrophe before you open up lines of communication with your clients. Customer experience is now well accepted as a leading business driver, and in 2018 Gartner found that, as opposed to other factors such as price, “more than 80% of organizations expect to compete mainly based on CX.“
Updates on the kinds of maintenance that consumers may receive, service schedules, and any restrictions on the location of in-home appointments will be reported to customers immediately. This information should be communicated clearly, from repair websites to call recordings, and through as many channels as possible. When the operation is scheduled, service companies should also proactively offer health and safety instructions to consumers about the future appointment, both for the technicians and for themselves. Communicating this in advance demonstrates a degree of professionalism which can help relieve distress whilst providing a more comfortable and safe environment for both technicians and customers.
To prevent drops in customer experience, consider what they need, be proactive in connectivity, and deliver user-specific solutions to their problems. In practice, this could involve more regular scheduling of preventive maintenance, or closer contact with customers who rely on mission-critical equipment before a breakdown occurs.
With You for The New Normal
A little planning goes a long way to mitigate potential service disruptions caused due to any reason — whether in relation to a health pandemic like COVID-19 or the resultant economic slowdown.
The best way to prove your service business for the future is to stay ahead of instability and set up a long-term plan that will allow your organization to adapt quickly as needed. In order to prepare for a future where the new normal is limited resources and cost-cutting measures, consider technology such as Custella Field Service & Transport Management, which uses the historical data of your company to better solve future service problems with a solution which:
- Provides easy access to the same critical knowledge for the entire workforce that drives the exceptional performance of your best professionals.
- Helps your front-line teams diagnose and address problems before sending a technician to the field.
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