When it comes to scheduling for field service organizations, there’s more than just a method to the madness — as any field service manager can tell you, it’s an art form. From juggling competing service calls and customer priorities to matching the right tech with the right parts, scheduling can easily consume too much of a manager’s time. Which is why, writes Aly Pinder, senior research associate at the Aberdeen Group, “Frequently, service organizations primarily look at the impact of scheduling and efficiently routing technicians to turn wrenches, as opposed to how the relationship between a technician and customer can impact the organization.”

Pinder explains, in Aberdeen’s Field Service 2014: Access to the Right Information Empowers a Results-Driven Workforce, how top performing organizations have shifted their focus from “getting the tech there on time” to giving their field service teams tools that strengthen collaboration and insight into solving customer issues. Here are a few best practices Pinder has identified as crucial for effective field service management:

Phone a Friend: While field service organizations have gotten better at scheduling, Pinder asks, “What happens if a technician gets on site without the answer to solve a problem? Approximately 60 percent of top performing organizations sampled in Aberdeen research provide field workers with access to remote expertise while at a customer site to ensure that issues can be resolved quickly, as compared to just half of all other organizations.” Direct lines of communication are key for ensuring first-time fixes.

Get Social: Successful field service organizations are taking advantage of social media and collaboration tools to create tight-knit, efficient teams. Says Pinder, “Half of the top performing organizations sampled in Aberdeen’s latest field service research provide technicians with access to social media/collaborative tools to facilitate knowledge transfer, compared to only 35 percent of their peers. Top performing organizations have looked to use this technology to build peer-to-peer / tech-to-tech collaborative communities to provide answers to issues on the fly.”

Start a Mentorship Program: “The aging service workforce has confronted us for a while now,” says Pinder. “In order to mitigate the seemingly impending doom of losing a generation of skilled technicians, top performing organizations have put programs in place to train the next wave of workers.” The field service organizations that are looking ahead in this way are twice as likely, according to Aberdeen research, to have formal employee mentorship programs to make sure their best technicians pass along valuable expertise.

H/T Field Technologies Online