Knology, one of the largest Internet, cable, phone and TV providers in the United States, knew it needed to go mobile to improve service to the company’s 320,000 customers. Getting there, however, was the hard part. After making nearly every mistake in the book, Knology ultimately increased field service productivity 14 percent with its mobile initiative. Find out which mistakes to avoid in the following article, republished with permission from Field Technologies Online.

According to Weldon Feightner, regional VP of Knology, there are seven keys to success in the service industry: time, tools, training, expectations, accountability, communication, and visibility. When boiled down to this level of simplicity, it sounds easy, right? It’s not — Feightner will be the first to tell you that finding the perfect combination of those seven ingredients is no easy feat. And while leveraging technology has become imperative to success in today’s service organization, it can sometimes further complicate things before benefits are realized. Luckily, Feightner is willing to share the lessons Knology learned during its mobile workforce optimization initiative so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes.

Knology is a provider of cable TV, Internet, and phone services with annual revenue of more than $550 million. The company’s field force of 350 technicians services more than 320,000 customers in nine states. Historically, Knology’s field technicians fell into one of two categories — installation techs or service techs. Since the company began as only a cable service provider, it started with only cable install and service techs. However, when Internet and phone services were added, the company added install and service techs dedicated to those services specifically. Over time, as business grew, Knology realized that having three sets of two different types of technicians was a scheduling and dispatching nightmare — and created a myriad of inefficiencies. “We had different scheduling systems for cable, for Internet, for phone. Having separate systems meant that we’d often send a technician there one day to install cable, then another technician to install Internet, explains Feightner.

Schedules and routes were completed and printed the day before each technician and trouble calls requiring immediate attention were dispatched to the field techs over the phone — equating to large amounts of time spent on the phone between dispatch and field techs.

Field Service Inefficiencies = Customer Woes

For Knology, the issue wasn’t just operation inefficiencies, but also the impact the organization’s structure was having on its customers. “We were intimidated when the business changed from just cable to Internet, and we felt we had to hire Internet expert technicians. Same when we added phone. But we got to the point where we were hearing from our customers the frustration the segregation of the technicians was causing them,” explains Feightner. “They were frustrated that one tech would show up at 11 to install cable, another at 2 to install Internet, and yet a third at 4 to install phone. They began asking us why, and we didn’t have an answer.” Knology’s need to streamline its operations came to a boil when Knology announced it was replacing its billing system, which had been used by the call center to create paper work orders up to this point, which were then handed off to the various scheduling systems. It was essential to replace the billing system, because the current version didn’t’ enable Knology to bill for all three types of service on one bill — customers were sent one bill for cable and Internet and another for phone.

To read the rest of this article, including what pitfalls to avoid when going mobile, go to Field Technologies Online (subscription required).

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ABOUT Field Technologies Online

Field Technologies Online provides is a resource for the optimization of field workers, service and assets. The publication's goal is to provide companies in the field service, transportation/distribution, government, public works and utilities industries with information on mobile technologies that can be used to improve productivity and drive efficiency.