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Crowdsourcing. On-demand services. The Uber model. The emerging trend of outsourcing services ordinarily performed by internal staff and resources to a large pool or network of labor providers is on the top of everyone’s mind, but what does it mean for field service management? In this post, I’m going to explore what this new generation of outsourcing looks like, how it applies to field services, and what it means for you.

The Shift from Insourcing to Outsourcing

Much like life, and business in general, field service management practices are continually evolving. To date, we can look at it in 2 distinct waves:

  1. Insourcing: using only in-house personnel or resources to accomplish a task
  2. Outsourcing: using external resources, such as contractors, outside of your own personnel

In the beginning, OEMs and service providers primarily insourced their field service functions. Then as businesses became more cost-conscious, we saw the movement toward outsourcing.
Shift forward to today, the reality is that growing your market share (and even maintaining your current share) is almost entirely dependent on the ability to deliver an exceptional, dare I say flawless customer experience. Customers have choices and are more than happy to take their business elsewhere when their expectations are not met.

At the same time, in order to deliver both customer and shareholder value, you must significantly reduce your cost to serve, more so than ever before. This target is usually much deeper than the initial cost savings you would experience after transitioning from an insourced to outsourced model.

These requirements are daunting individually, let alone at the same time. Traditional business models simply do not have the ability to deliver such value.  And so, we have come to the next wave in the evolution of field service management: crowdsourcing.

6 Benefits of Field Services Crowdsourcing

While outsourcing simply refers to allocating work to any external entity, crowdsourcing takes the concept one step further. Tasks are opened up to established organizations and partners to compete for your business on an event by event basis. As the model began to emerge, there was much speculation on its capabilities. What would it look like, and would it be similar to the rideshare versions of Uber and Lyft that we all know and love? How exactly would that work in field services?

While we are in the advent of this evolution, one thing is abundantly clear: the concept may be similar, but the advantages of crowdsourcing for field service far surpass those of its older, more established brethren—the rideshare community.

Field services crowdsourcing delivers 6 key benefits:

  1. Eliminate heavy fixed costs
  2. 100% technician utilization
  3. Drive first time resolution
  4. Improve customer satisfaction
  5. Deliver competitive labor pricing
  6. Resolve talent shortages

How Field Services Crowdsourcing Works

Any product leader will tell you there is something to be said for being first to market. But there’s also something to be said for being second—you have the ability to learn from the first, refine your delivery, and improve your value proposition. As a community, field services has had that benefit. We’ve built upon the foundation delivered by Uber and Lyft, and now have a more powerful model that meets, even exceeds, our specific needs.

With rideshare crowdsourcing solutions, the service provider (in this case, the driver) is sourced for you (the customer) based on 2 criteria:

  1. Geographical location (quickest time to reach you)
  2. Base level customer satisfaction rating (you will not be re-matched with anyone you’ve rated 3 stars or below in the past)

With the most effective field service crowdsourcing solutions, the service provider is sourced for you based on 7 robust criteria, determining first who can perform the work, and from that subset, who is the best selection.

  1. SLA requirements
  2. Geographical location (+ variable conditions: weather, traffic, etc.)
  3. Required certifications & skillsets
  4. Part availability
  5. Operational metrics scoring (historical first-time resolution, SLA adherence, mean time to resolve, etc.)
  6. Customer satisfaction rating
  7. Pricing

Field service crowdsourcing solutions allow for dynamic weighting of these criteria.  It offers clients the ability to customize, and even flex which metrics hold the most weight at any given time, ensuring the outcome aligns directly with their corporate goals.

With the weighted score, the service provider with the highest rating is selected (in real time, just like rideshare) to deliver your installation or service event and is managed on your behalf in a managed services fashion.

In field services, crowdsourcing is a competitive marketplace—one where service providers compete for your business by delivering the highest quality operational metrics, pricing, and customer satisfaction. You unlock new levels of value through customer satisfaction improvements and significant reductions to your operating costs. And, for the participating service providers in this market, they now have the ability to compete for business they previously would not have had the opportunity to win. It’s a win-win.

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Sarah Hatfield

About Author Sarah Hatfield

Sarah Hatfield heads up Product and Marketing for OnProcess Technology. She brings 15 years of leadership experience and service delivery expertise from leading brands such as ADT, Asurion, and Comcast. Sarah took what she describes as the long road to corporate America, having started her career in the US Army. She spent the majority of her military service with the 25th Infantry Division, is a veteran of foreign wars, and recipient of multiple service awards including the Combat Action Badge. You can follow Sarah on Twitter at @SarahMHatfield.