This is part three of a five-part series on Service Chain Optimization. For more context, you can read the previous posts by visiting the links below:
So far in our Dissecting the Service Chain series we’ve discussed the steps involved in planning for successful service delivery. This includes predicting the amount of work during a particular time period (demand forecasting) and ensuring there are enough resources to meet the work (capacity planning). It also involves ensuring that personnel are in the right shifts and doing the right things in those shifts (shift management).
To recap, service chain optimization is the decision-making process for ensuring an efficient day of service and satisfied customers. The service chain encompasses everything that happens before, during, and after the day of service, including:
- Forecasting and Planning
- Shift Planning and Management
- Scheduling and Dispatch
- Mobile Field Execution
- Performance Measurement
In this post we dig into the execution phase of the service chain, starting with scheduling and dispatch. As a field service professional, you already know how crucial it is to get scheduling right. So we’ll be talking about three key concepts you need to grasp if you want to achieve service chain optimization: truth-based appointment booking, route optimization, and ultimately schedule optimization.
1. Truth-based Appointment Booking
Appointment booking is nothing to skimp over as it greatly impacts the entire service operation. Think about it—just one miscalculation, even by a minute, can add up over time to missed appointments, dissatisfied customers, added costs, and productivity loss. Meanwhile, every minute saved translates to more wrench time, happier customers, and overall maximized use of time and resources.
Traditionally organizations take a siloed or “bucket” approach to appointment booking. This method books appointments based on averages, like average job duration and average travel time. But when it’s crucial to be as precise as possible, averages aren’t going to cut it. For instance, job duration can vary widely, based on the technician’s skills and experience. And travel time is constantly changing due to traffic, inclement weather, or roadblocks.
The most efficient and accurate approach to booking appointments is based on actual data, not averages. Truth-based appointment booking offers appointment windows to customers based on the actual availability of resources, true job durations, and real travel times. This method operates holistically, keeping the existing schedule in mind and incorporating real data like work type, SLA requirements, required skills and parts, and geographic location to match the right technician to the right job.
ClickSoftware’s solution uses truth-based appointment booking and only offers timeslots to customers that are aligned with the service provider’s business goals. Click’s graded appointment booking capability scans all qualified resources in each appointment window until it finds the best options based on the organization’s business policy, KPIs, and goals. It compares and “grades” all slots accordingly, influencing customers to choose a slot that aligns with your priorities.
All in all, Click’s appointment booking gives service organizations:
- A more accurate and realistic view into the service day
- The potential to fit in more jobs per day
- A minimized risk of missing a job or arriving late
- An increased likelihood of a first-time fix by matching the right tech to the job
- A schedule that aligns with the organization’s policies and goals
2. Route Optimization
Inefficient routing is one of the most costly challenges faced by field service organizations. It impacts schedule accuracy, increases fuel costs, and leads to missed SLAs and customer frustration. With the pressure to meet rising customer expectations (while balancing cost and other business considerations), every minute of the day matters.
ClickSoftware uses a unique combination of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and real-time traffic to find the most efficient route to a job. Here’s how it works:
First, the solution uses predictive travel to help with overall planning and route optimization. Powered by machine learning and analytics, predictive travel uses historic traffic data to predict how long it will take a driver to get from point to point at different times of day. This allows dispatch teams to create an accurately planned schedule and anticipate traffic patterns before the day of service.
Then on the day of service, Click’s solution scans real-time road conditions for unforeseen traffic and updates the schedule accordingly. Live traffic updates (which we call this real-time traffic data) ensure the most precise travel estimates at all times and facilitates execution on the day of service. If there’s a job in jeopardy due to an unexpected road condition, it’s automatically scheduled to a resource with a clearer route to the job.
Some of the benefits of Click’s approach to routing include:
- Improved efficiency, productivity, and SLA compliance
- Increased employee and customer satisfaction
- Ability to make more precise commitments to customers about when their technician will arrive
- Increased schedule accuracy and better resource utilization
- Reduced travel and fuel costs
3. Schedule Optimization
Fueled by AI, machine learning, and data science, optimized scheduling enables organizations to schedule and dispatch the right technician with the right skills to the right job at the right location, and makes automatic adjustments if issues arise—all in real time.
Why do field service organizations need schedule optimization? Because hundreds of factors come into play: travel distance, travel time, overtime and labor costs, employee availability and skills, parts and equipment, customer availability and preferences, contractor availability, and so on. For a human to find the right schedule that also meets your business goals and objectives, cuts costs, increases customer satisfaction, and improves productivity and efficiency—all in a matter of minutes—is basically impossible.
Truth-based appointment booking and route optimization play a huge role in optimizing the schedule. Click’s solution integrates all of these components to automatically produce the most efficient and effective schedule.
Here are just a few of the benefits our customers have achieved from Click’s schedule optimization capabilities:
- Efficient scheduling: 90% or more of next day business scheduled automatically
- Increased efficiency: 40% increase in jobs completed per day
- Improved utilization: 12% reduction in average repair time
- Enhanced customer satisfaction: +60 increase in NPS score within 12 months
- Reduced costs: 20% reduction in technician travel time
Schedule and dispatch is perhaps the most critical link in the service chain—and also the most difficult. An intelligent, automated, and optimized scheduling solution is key in ensuring the right technicians get to the right place at the right time and satisfy customers.
For more on achieving service chain optimization, keep an eye out on our blog for more posts in this series.