Room for Improvement Remains in Contractor Usage
The benefits of employing third-party contractors to round out services capabilities are well known, including greater scope and scale of serviceable regions and the efficiency benefits inherent to an on-demand field force.
But even as organizations recognize formidable value from their hybrid services teams, most are failing to leverage the full customer-service benefits of their third-party assets beyond basic service-level agreement requirements, a new study finds.
According the Aberdeen Group’s latest report, Contractor Management: Strengthen Service with a Third-Party Field Service Team, companies with both contract and in-house services personnel fall well behind their peers when it comes to scheduling services calls in a way that best suit the customer’s schedule and needs.
Making customer availability the top priority when scheduling services appointments is now standard fare for 48 percent of what Aberdeen terms best-in-class organizations, a designation given to those with successful — and profitable — services units. Organizations that employ only in-house service personnel fare nearly as well in making the customer the top priority at 47 percent. Only 33 percent of those who use third-party contractors, however, say they focus on customer availability when scheduling service calls, Aberdeen found.
“If a customer is not available for a service visit, does it really matter if you showed up on time?” asks Aly Pinder, an Aberdeen senior research analyst specializing in service management and the author of the report. “Of course the service organization can still charge for the missed appointment, but the asset is still unproductive, the customer still needs service and the field service team still needs to send out another costly truck roll.
“This scenario leads to a loss for all parties,” says Pinder.
Contrast that with the way organizations with third-party workers forces are leveraging their forces. Such companies excel at asset-centric scheduling, which puts the focus not on the customer, but rather on the availability of the technicians with the goal of maximizing uptime. More than one-third (34 percent) of organizations with contract field forces polled by Aberdeen approach scheduling this way as opposed to just 24 percent of best-in-class firms and 31 percent of in-house-only companies.
The difference is even greater when it comes to the more myopic view of service scheduling to satisfy basic provisions of service-level agreements. More than a quarter (26 percent) of those that employ third parties say they are SLA-centric. Meanwhile only 14 percent of best-in-class firms and 9 percent of those with no outside contractors say SLAs are the guiding force in service appointment-making.
“Leveraging a third-party workforce allows service organizations more flexibility in automatically scheduling and dispatching based on customer needs as there are now more qualified resources to spread around based on fluctuations in demand,” says Pinder. “Unfortunately, organizations have been too focused on just using third parties to still meet SLAs and not to better meet the needs of the customer’s timeline.
“This is a clear opportunity for organizations to improve in how they maximize the value of the contracted workforce,” Pinder says.