Automating for the Front Lines of Service - ClickSoftware

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Automating for the Front Lines of Service

July 1, 2013 ClickSoftware 0 Comments

Guest Author: Sumair Dutta, Chief Customer Officer at The Service Council

In our recent blog series on mobile workforce management, (Realizing the Full Benefits of A Mobile Workforce Management Solution and The Path to a Successful Workforce Management Transformation) we touched upon the idea of change management as being a key ingredient to success. In essence, early involvement from field engineers in the mobile decision is a vital step in ensuring that the needs of the primary mobile users are addressed in the process of automation.shutterstock 14692837

It is surprising how most organizations don’t bring in their field agents when considering a mobile workforce management solution. IT is usually involved, as it should be, and so is field service leadership, but very few organizations bring in their field technicians at the concept and design stage prior to embarking on a solution selection journey. This highlights a philosophical challenge in the reasons behind implementing a mobile workforce management solution.

If the goal is to boost productivity (tasks addressed) by reducing paperwork and essentially automating a paper-based form, then technician involvement isn’t that vital. As long as the device and application work when the form filling needs to be done, the technician isn’t bothered by the introduction of automation. That said, the mobile solution becomes more of a compliance check as opposed to a real tool. 

(Register for the July 10th Webinar)

If the goal of automation is to improve field resolution, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction and profitability, then early technician involvement in solution scoping is essential. As opposed to lengthening the deployment time frame, early involvement speeds up deployment as it helps organizations prioritize the type of information needed right away while allowing the development of a scalable map that incorporates the introduction of other ‘less vital’ information. Sure, opening a solution discussion to more minds does open your organization up to scope creep or a ‘flavor of the month’ discussion, but as long as the goal of the solution process is well defined, one can stay on track.

Recent research completed by The Service Council on the broader field service market (n=223) found that only 1 in 5 field organizations bring in their field agents in the early stages of solution selection. Those that do however gain a wealth of insight into the type of information that will drive resolution. For instance, the top areas of information not currently available but severely needed in the field to support effective resolution are as follows:

  • Knowledge (connection to knowledgebase or other technicians)

  • Customer/product/service history

  • Resolution information

  • Work order information

  • Parts information 

Without that level of feedback, most of the emphasis would have been on the work order management and schedule management capabilities and not on the knowledge needed to resolve service issues. 

The idea here isn’t to state the pursuit of better productivity is a bad objective. However, the pursuit of productivity without considering the true pain points of field agents, or those of your customers, or those of the income statement is ineffective in delivering a true return on your mobile investment. With a greater focus on resolution and field efficacy, productivity will follow.

On July 10, The Service Council will be hosting a short webinar (registration information) featuring current mobile and field service research as well a discussion with Frank Atkinson, Director of Global Field Services at Unisys Corporation. Frank will highlight some of the steps and missteps taken in Unisys’s mobile workforce management journey and discuss the ingredients behind a $6M savings attributable to their mobile solution implementation.

Sumair Dutta is the Chief Customer Officer at The Service Council. He can be reached at or @suma1r via twitter.


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