Nearly 40 percent of field service organizations say they don’t have a clue what their service techs are up to out in the field. That’s according to a survey of 120 service management professionals conducted by Service Management Magazine. Asked about the visibility into service techs’ whereabouts and job statuses, 39.2 percent said their workers were totally invisible to the organization.

“That means no tracking on where engineers are, how complete jobs are, or what they are prioritizing,” says Saul Sherry, editor of Service Management.

In an age of smartphones and tablets, that’s pretty surprising, though about 43 percent of respondents said a dispatcher has at least some visibility over field technicians. Also demonstrating how field service organizations are slow to adopt the latest technology: The survey asked managers to describe ways customers could inquire about the status of a service request. Methods like dialing the call center were the most oft-cited (over 70 percent), while self-service methods like access to an online portal (40.8 percent), pushing automatic updates (29.2 percent), and access to live maps and GPS locations of technicians (under 10 percent), were less common.

Among companies that are involved in self-service, however, more companies are allowing customers to not only view appointment times online, but also make new bookings or amend current ones. “This shows that for those moving in the self-service direction, more power to the customers is more common than entry-level, restricted possibility access,” Sherry says.

View the survey results here.

More: Calling Support Is Customers’ Last Resort, So Why’s It Your Only Option?

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ABOUT Ian Stewart

Avatar photoIan is a veteran journalist who has covered sports for various news outlets. Previously, he was managing editor for an electronic-book publishing company and a public relations writer.