Insights Blog

Just In Time: The Importance of Optimizing Field Force Scheduling and Routing

Posted by Scott Dutton on July 6, 2017 Topics: Cable services, Field Service Automation

The Importance of Optimizing Field Force Scheduling and Routing.jpg

The digital consumer lives in an era of speed – fast downloads, fast food, fast forward, even The Fast and The Furious. With this expectation of speed in our lives, it makes sense that we also want field service to be on our time too. But it doesn’t always work out that way.

When setting up a service call to start or troubleshoot service, over half of consumers complain about field technician appointment waiting times, and over 40% of customers complain about their technicians’ arrival times. However, that doesn’t mean technicians aren’t doing their best. They want to deliver an experience that delights customers, but sometimes they don’t have the right tools to deliver the quality of service—and speed of service—that customers want.

That’s because many communication service providers (CSPs) use manual methods and processes to manage their field service operations (workforce management, resource management, routing, scheduling, etc.).  The inefficiencies of manual or outdated approaches to field force management is not only inefficient—it doesn’t make the most of consumers’ and technicians’ time. Technicians arrive to appointments late based on unoptimized routing, rescheduling, cancellations and the last-minute changes like traffic that slow everything down.

So what can CSPs do to make their field service more efficient and satisfy customers? Stratecast recently released a study, Optimizing Field Force Operations about the state of field service and the importance of optimization and you can download the study here.

Key Takeaways

CSPs typically preschedule their appointments and optimize their routes, but that can’t always accommodate for changing conditions. Customers cancel or no longer need service, and the technicians are left scrambling to make it to their next job. With real-time optimization, CSPs can shorten appointment windows, reduce idle time and wait times, and arrive at a time that satisfies customers.

In the Stratecast study, the author highlights the importance of optimizing scheduling and routing in tandem to increase responsiveness. Optimizing schedules can account for:

  • The true availability status of technicians
  • Potential changes to job status originating from customer requests
  • Required tools and resources
  • External impacts such as traffic and weather
  • Opportunities to sell or upsell

Scheduling and routing work best together. Ideally, scheduling should account for a technician’s skills, work areas, and schedule. That way, when a schedule change inevitably happens, dispatchers can send the right technician to the right job at the right time. This also helps decrease the arrival window from several hours to one to two hours (some CSPs even have it down to 30 minutes!)

One of the best approaches to routing is with just-in-time (JIT) routing. This way, CSPs can account for typical field service scenarios and save travel time, while still making dynamic updates to focus on the jobs that matter most.

This focus on optimizing routing and scheduling has worked well not just in theory, but in practice, and is one that’s worked well for CSG clients. As outlined in the Stratecast study, one Tier-1 cable and home internet service provider using CSG’s services was able to significantly shorten appointment windows and save hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly expenses.

By optimizing scheduling and routing, CSPs can deliver the services customers want, when they want them, increasing satisfaction and reducing wait times. And the timing couldn’t be better.

To learn more about optimizing field service, download the full Stratecast study.

 

Scott Dutton

Scott Dutton is a Director of Product Management at CSG International.