It’s a conundrum businesses often face: How do you improve customer service while efficiently managing field operations? It is possible, but one inevitably impacts the other. While you’re always under pressure to streamline operations, you still want the agility to quickly assign tasks to workers who are closest to a job and provide them with the correct tools to complete the job before they move on.

Here are three ways to strike the right balance to manage revenue and streamline operations without compromising service:

Optimize Workflow

Advances in fleet technology are enabling field service managers and dispatchers to fine-tune workflow, know where technicians are at all times, and assign work based on location and priorities. These solutions help managers optimize routing and improve delivery times by providing visibility into field operations. Automating dispatch and scheduling systems lets you review and compare routes while taking into account road construction and peak traffic times.

United Road Towing in Mokena, Ill., implemented a web-based fleet management solution to improve customer service and streamline workflow. Now when dispatchers receive a service call, they immediately check which truck is closest to the customer. The assignment is sent to the driver’s in-cab screen, along with directions and traffic alerts. Since implementing the system, arrival times have improved by 35 percent and overall miles driven per call reduced by 18 percent, says Tom Tedford, senior VP of business development at the company.

Increase Communication

Good field communication goes a long way toward improving efficiency. Mobile technology enables workers to transcend the restrictions of geography since they can access information anywhere, anytime, regardless of location.

Using mobile devices, workers request information from the office when they need it or assistance from a colleague already in the field. If a nearby team member has a part the worker needs, there’s no need to drive to a warehouse to retrieve it.

Mobile devices also help improve service delivery. Tasks that once required lengthy phone calls or cumbersome paperwork can be handled remotely by email or text. In addition, mobile communication connects field workers to customers, management and assets, which means they can make important decisions while in the field.

Collect Data

Information collected from fleets, including GPS navigation and vehicle tracking, provides valuable insights about vehicle use, driver behavior and scheduling efficiency. Savvy managers know that monitoring and using data such as time spent at each site, routing records and delivery logs, can exponentially improve operations.

A modern fleet management solution lets you interpret data through dashboards and reports, identifying issues such as unauthorized use of vehicles or poor driving behaviors such as speeding or harsh braking. Managers need to collect this data daily, and analyze and compare it with historical data to quickly identify patterns and areas that need improvement. For instance, they can take steps to curb speeding, which reduces gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and five percent around town, according to a government study.

Similarly, fleet technology data can help with scheduling vehicle maintenance before issues occur, keeping vehicles safer and on the road longer. This translates to higher productivity and better use of assets. And that adds up to a more efficient operation and stronger bottom line.

ABOUT Kris Carber

Avatar photoKris Carber has been writing about field service management and location technology for nearly a decade.