Big Data or Big Impact? Get Smart About Your Field Service Data

By: Aviram Hinenzon

Most of us think of “big data” as the quantity of data, but it should also be viewed in other terms: how complex is the data, how complex is the analysis of the data and what is the value and impact of the data on your business.

According to Aberdeen Group’s “State of Service Management: Forecast for 2012” report, “Overall, organizations have yet to reap the profitability they desire from their service businesses.” Customer service is a way for you to differentiate yourself from the competition and generate revenue. But despite the importance of customer service, we know from Aberdeen that service organizations are not meeting their goals: 43 percent of organizations with 50-500 technicians and 52 percent of organizations with 500 or more technicians are not meeting customer satisfaction goals.

Through automation, enterprise systems and mobile technology, field service data is collected for each and every work order, from customer communication to every status change in the workflow, including the initial customer call and any follow-up communication to scheduling the call to the field, when the technician starts driving, then arrives at the site, starts the work, completes the work, and, finally, documents completion of the work order.

When service organizations try to improve day-to-day operations, many start by identifying business goals and the respective key performance indicators (KPIs) to help achieve those goals. The difficulties start when service organizations attempt to transform goals and KPIs into calls to action for operational changes. A key challenge is how to translate the relevant improvement targets into day-to-day scheduling and dispatch decisions. Regardless of the difficulties, you must improve the customer experience to differentiate your service.

Data gathering and analysis

One of your customer-experience goals may be to shorten the appointment window. First, you must determine how well you’re currently meeting appointment commitments. To answer this question you must gather data about each and every appointment, comparing what was committed to what was actually executed.

Now, you may start with the goal of shortening the appointment window, but if data is gathered and analyzed appropriately you can answer other questions, including:

  • How are we doing?
  • Where are we falling short?
  • What are we risking by changing our policies?
  • What will be the impact if we make this change?
  • How well are we communicating to customers?

You must conduct your analysis in many different dimensions (e.g., zone, work type, time of day) to identify the root cause of any problems. You may discover that you have problems in specific areas or with specific appointment types. Or the problem’s root cause may be the time of day or the day of the week. Or you may have issues with individual workers who continually miss appointments. In addition to pinpointing the root cause you must “find the tails,” the best and worst performers in every dimension.


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