Thoughts from a Service Director: Appointment Scheduling Software
As a Field Service Director looking into effectively managing our workforce scheduling, my challenges were consistently three things:
- Making sure our standard of customer service was as high as possible
- Making sure our field workforce were as productive as possible and had job satisfaction
- Making sure our costs were kept under control and we returned a healthy profit.
I found that one theme was consistent through all three areas – how effectively we could conduct our business appointment scheduling to get our field engineers to our customers.
As our customer service agents were unable to provide short window appointments to our customers, they had to receive a lot of objection handling training to deal with the ever increasing expectation of shorter and shorter appointment windows. We simply couldn’t provide this using our manual system which involved all day appointments, with morning or afternoon only offered by exception.
Our diary planners struggled with the conflicting priorities of customer demand, SLA and what they could determine from a map. They did not have time to compute every potential journey using journey planners and it simply wasn’t feasible to do this manually. Consequently, our current field service scheduling meant that our engineers were regularly facing situations where they were crossing over each other, working in similar areas and as soon as they met a customer were facing complaints over their time keeping. Our field service engineers understandably blamed the company and those responsible for our field service scheduling and field service appointment making. Something needed to change, but there was significant resistance internally to anything that involved changing the field service management software, that had been in use and developed for almost fifteen years. To be fair, it handled all other areas of the business very well; reporting, data capture, history, costings, contract profitability etc., were all there. So I knew at this stage that any potential system we chose must be able to integrate effectively. Wouldn’t it be better if we had some field service scheduling or appointment scheduling software that could effectively integrate into our existing service management system?
The improvements for customer service, workforce scheduling, workforce optimisation and ultimately productivity would be huge. We needed a fast system to handle our service appointments, workforce scheduling and workforce optimisation that could integrate with our existing service management system. We didn’t want to over-optimise, totally automate or over-complicate, especially initially. We made the mistake of inviting in a number of providers initially who made everything sound very involved, lots and lots of work, huge costs and a return on investment that we would not see for some time. The integration work they were suggesting ran into the hundreds of work days. This had the effect of making the project seem less tenable and increased internal resistance significantly.
Then I found FastLeanSmart, their system and their team, and the rest is history.