How Real-Time Communication Impacts Field Service Performance Metrics

Believe it or not, communication is a leading component of a successful field service business. Without real-time access to people, knowledge and resources in the field, technicians who are working directly with customers can’t hit high scores on important field service performance metrics.

Think about it, when a tech is faced with a tricky installation or needs confirmation from a manager before continuing a job, fast communication is what can make all the difference. Let’s see how real-time, mobile communication can have a serious impact on four key field service metrics.

1. First-Time Fix Rates

A company’s first-time fix rate represents the percentage of time technicians can resolve customer problems on the first visit. This field service performance metric is a big deal for two reasons. First, solving the problem on the first visit is key for improving customer satisfaction. For example, if a healthcare provider relies on certain medical equipment, and the tech can’t fix the machine when called, it greatly impacts their ability to serve their patients. Second, having a high first-time fix rate means you are avoiding a lot of additional costs (extra labor, increased dispatch, lost opportunities, etc.)

You can improve your business’s first-time fix rate (getting it ideally into the high 80s) by equipping field teams with real-time access to company knowledge and resources. This means giving them the power to easily communicate with other team members and outside departments, as well as access to documents like service manuals, work order histories, and new procedures.

This helps combat issues like not having all the parts on hand or being stumped on how to fix a problem. When a tech can ping others in the area to ask if anyone has the part, or troubleshoot a problem on live video with another experienced tech, it’s much easier to reach that high first-time fix rate.

2. Mean Time to Repair

This field service metric represents the average amount of time it takes a technician to repair an item. As you could guess, improving this metric is dependent on how well you support your field technicians.

You can do this by enabling mobile troubleshooting and maintaining a mobile repository of resources and training.

To really make a difference, techs should be using an enterprise-grade communication app to troubleshoot, allowing them to use any communication mode that fits the situation. Sometimes a text will suffice, but other times a photo or live video conversation is needed to clear up the problem.

Furthermore, with a solution actually built for business, there are some game-changing features, such as being able to set up official groups, create ad-hoc groups on the fly, and reach out to anyone in the company, even if you haven’t met before. This ability to be supported by the entire organization and not just a few coworkers whose numbers you have is where huge time-savings comes into play.

3. Completion Rate

Completion rate is the number of jobs that get done in a day. A higher completion rate means techs can fit more jobs into their day, which is both great for revenue and customer satisfaction.

With the ability to easily troubleshoot in real time and most importantly, stay in constant contact with scheduling groups, techs can cut out a fair amount of wasted time.

For example, when a technician emails back and forth with the scheduling department, the response times are often between 10-15 minutes. When they can message each other, the response time is cut down to 2 minutes. Multiply that by each job and each tech and it adds up to a lot of saved time for the entire organization.

4. Upsell

Upselling is when technicians sell additional products while servicing a customer. This metric has become increasingly important as it is a really easy way to increase revenue.

To do this successfully, technicians need to be knowledgeable about the company’s product line and know just what to say to make the sale. Access to the sales team can be really helpful here.

If a new tech doesn’t know quite what to say or is unsure what product to suggest, they can hop on a quick call for some coaching from a sales rep. Large cable companies are starting to emphasize these live coaching sessions and are seeing more and more technicians hitting upsell quotas.

Start Boosting Field Service Performance Metrics

Many techs rely on texting and consumer apps like WhatsApp to communicate on the job. If this is the case at your company, a great starting point is to investigate enterprise communication solutions.

Start by learning the major differences between enterprise and consumer messaging apps. As you’d expect, when an app is built with the needs of business in mind, there are some important feature differences.

Next, investigate your options. There are several different companies on the market who specialize in communication technology for field service organizations. A good thing to look for is a solution that combines all the modes of communication that your techs need to use — text, voice, video, maybe two-way radio functionality — into one single app.

Having all modes of communication in one real-time app is a great advantage for increasing efficiency and reducing overhead costs.

As you research your options, don’t be afraid to reach out to companies for information on how they can specifically benefit your business. With the right solution for real-time communication in the field, there’s no doubt you’ll see improvements across your key field service performance metrics.

ABOUT Kristen Wells

Kristen is the senior manager of corporate communications at PTC and editor of Field Service Digital. She is passionate about elevating the stories of women in field service and improving communication between the field and the office. Prior to ServiceMax, Kristen held content marketing roles at startups such as Zinc and cielo24. Kristen holds a B.A. in Communication with an emphasis on Professional Writing from the University of California, Santa Barbara.