If you have hardware at a customer location, you're always going to need an on-site service delivery channel. Aside from cutting down the number of on-site incidents, reducing the cost of these visits will continue to be an important organizational objective. In my TSIA Pulse webinar, "Best Practices for Reducing On-Site Incident Costs," I gave a walkthrough of the TSIA outcome chain I've built to address and solve this business challenge for our Field Services members. Within that outcome chain, I highlighted the 5 key performance indicators (KPIs) that drive these on-site incident costs and gave examples of how these areas can be improved in order to reduce costs.
#1: First Visit Repair Time: Save Both Time and Money by Getting It Right The First Time
The first key to reducing the cost of an on-site incident is to shorten the length of time a technician needs to spend at a customer location. In order to do that, it helps to have a clear idea of what is wrong, the skill set needed to fix it, and what parts are required ahead of time so that an issue can be resolved as quickly, correctly, and efficiently as possible. One of the ways field services organizations are doing this is by using video support, which allows them to triage each incident and brief the technician on exactly what they'll need to do in order to make the repair before they go on-site. Video support is also a great way to connect your field services engineers to other experts within the company, who can then walk them through the repair if they run into an issue that requires advanced expertise, preventing the need for a costly secondary visit.
In some cases, video support can even be used to coach customers to perform easier fixes themselves, preventing the need for a technician to go on-site at all. Keeping repairs to a first-time visit, keeping that first-time visit as short as possible, or even eliminating the need for them altogether is a great place to start if you're looking for ways to reduce costs.
#2: First Visit Repair Rate: Let the Equipment Tell You What it Needs
To go along with the first KPI, the rate at which problems are solved on the first visit can be further improved through remote monitoring and proactive support, which is achieved through the use of smart, connected products. One of our members recently shared their success story of how they combined the use of connected devices with a tremendously effective knowledge base that generated automated service requests, which improved response times and reduced labor cost as a result. Additionally, this system automatically dispatches spare part orders to the field along with repair instructions, which arrive at the same time as the technician. Because of this effective and streamlined system, this company has been able to continuously delight their customers, proving the value of purchasing even more connected systems that monitor their own function, schedule their own maintenance, and increase equipment uptime.
#3: Travel Time: Finding the Fastest and Most Efficient Repair Routes
Although this KPI is primarily driven by customer density and staffing, we do have some examples of how members have been able to optimize their travel time. In fact, at one of our TSW conferences, Dillard Myers from Cisco gave a keynote presentation that showed how they were able to incorporate geomapping into their spare parts and dispatching system, which allowed them to dramatically improve their performance. In other examples provided by our members, new scheduling optimization tools not only reduced their travel time, but also by populating their dispatch system with the individual skill sets of their technicians, they could reduce the percentage of time on the job, and even overtime, when the right person with the right skills was assigned to a particular site.
#4: Hourly Labor Burden Rate: Are You Paying Your Field Technicians Fairly Based on Skill?
Over the last few years, one of the most difficult jobs to fill globally has been field service technicians. When you combine this with an aging demographic, there is a looming talent war. Knowing the right compensation levels to hire and retain your FS workforce impact your cost per incident dramatically.
At TSIA, we conduct an annual Workforce Optimization and Compensation study that looks at compensation by skill level so our members can see if what they're paying their technicians compares to that of equivalent skill sets across the globe. We also look at the variable compensation and incentive compensation practices, which are also important to consider when adjusting how to pay your technicians. The ability to participate in this survey, as well as receive a detailed report of the findings, are included as part of a membership to TSIA's Field Services discipline.
#5: Utilization: How Effective is Your Field Services Workforce?
The first four KPIs are the drivers of cost per incident, but how effective are you at deploying your field service workforce? While not technically a driver of cost per incident, utilization plays an important role in managing the on-site service delivery channel. The outcome chain demonstrated in this webinar shows how TSIA has developed a recommended practice to measure the overall productivity and utilization of your field services organization that will help you answer the following questions:
- Is your utilization in line with industry benchmarks?
- Relative to peers, are your field service engineers spending more or less time on travel, break/fix, adoption, customer success, customer training, and other productive activities?
- What actions can be taken at various levels of the organization to improve performance?
Learn More About Reducing On-Site Incident Costs
I go into more detail about the KPIs mentioned above and even give a demonstration of a TSIA outcome chain I built addressing this particular service business challenge in my webinar, which you can watch for free On-Demand here. While most of the content in that specific outcome chain is members-only, I invite you to watch and see how we're addressing the top challenges affecting today's field services organizations. You can also see which technology is receiving the most investment by field services organizations this year by downloading our free 2016 Technology Spending Report for Field Services. Has your organization been able to successfully reduce your costs in any of these areas? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below, or reach out to me privately via email.