How to Manage Field Service Teams Efficiently
It’s never nice when you lose something, and if the “something” that you lose is particularly important, it can ruin your day. Keeping track of the items that you own isn’t really too difficult – but what if those things had a mind of their own?
Shepherds face this kind of issue all the time. There they are, sitting in a field, watching over their sheep. They count them and discover they are all there – 100 sheep, nothing to worry about. And then, they go back about their business and count again – 100 sheep, all is well.
They return to their business and count the sheep a little while later – 99, nothing to…wait! There’s one missing!
At this stage, a good shepherd is likely to drop everything and head off to try and find that missing sheep. The 99 are kept safe in a pen, but the 1 sheep is out somewhere in a field, and the shepherd needs to find it.
This can take a long time and use a lot of the shepherd’s resources. If only there was a way of finding out where the sheep was!
If your company uses field agents, you might have had the same experience as the shepherd. Five members of your team set off this morning to meet with clients, and three of them have reported back to you.
After several phone calls, you locate one of them. They were late for their meeting because they set out too late, not realizing what time their meeting started – and the client wasn’t happy.
The last field agent checks in with you early in the evening. They’ve had a productive day and made plenty of sales, getting to all their meetings on time. It would have been nice if they’d managed to tell you though!
The Easier Way to Manage Field Service Teams
Every member of your field service team will be carrying a mobile device with them, that’s almost a guarantee. Two important qualities of these devices are that they are carried in pockets without much thought and that they provide location services so you can pinpoint where that device is.
Using these facts to your advantage, you can provide benefits to your field teams, your managers, and your customers, when using the services provided by LeadSquared.
Meetings will usually be arranged in advance and so can be added to a schedule for the field team member. Each member will then be able to see their schedule directly on their phone, complete with alerts to tell them when their first meeting is due to start. Managers will also be able to see the team schedules so they know where everybody should be.
When the field service team member reaches the location of their first meeting, their phone will automatically check them in. No interaction is required on their part, meaning that it will happen even if they forget to manually check-in.
Their manager will be able to monitor the check-ins and can take action when someone is not in the right place at the right time.
To return to our shepherd analogy, it is as if the flock were all individually tagged with tracking devices. When that one sheep wanders off, the shepherd checks his phone and see that 99 dots are green, but there’s a red one half a mile away. He can take action by sending an assistant out to the exact location of the missing sheep or chase after it himself. He doesn’t need to spend a long time searching for the sheep, as he already knows exactly where it is.
But here’s something that the sheep would never do. When the meeting is over for your field employee, they can update the records on their phone to show what time the meeting finished, and what the outcome was.
This information is valuable as it allows managers to take or schedule follow-up actions based on how the meeting went. Even if the meeting was less than successful, it will help to build a picture of the requirements of the market as a whole and may lead to changes in the way that meetings are approached.
The field operative will be automatically checked out as they leave the meeting too, so you can see when they left and set off for their next appointment.
A Plan for the Whole Day
The schedule assigned to each team member isn’t just a string of appointments. Tasks including follow up calls, sending emails, and doing everything else necessary to look after their leads will be included in the schedule.
Just knowing where your team members are at any time will give managers peace of mind, but it is even better to know that every task they need to complete is right there in front of them.
Nobody gets lost, everyone has a plan, and every day goes better than the last. If a problem ever occurs, the manager will know straight away and can work to resolve the issue before it affects the relationship with the client.
The real benefit to the manager comes in the effective use of their time. A shepherd can sit in a field all day watching his sheep because that is the job description. If a sheep manages to escape, he might not immediately notice, but while doing his regular counting check he’ll rapidly become aware.
A manager is not meant to sit and watch field service operatives. They should be able to go out and do what they need to without constant supervision, as the manager will have many other tasks to attend to.
Using a system to keep track of where they are, allows the manager to focus on what they are meant to be doing and only need to intervene when a problem arises – it’s far more efficient than chasing field team members with phone calls to check on their exact location. And what do you do when they don’t answer? Do you assume they are already in their meeting? Or are they lost on the way there?
With LeadSquared, you’ll know for sure.