We’ve written many posts on the Optsy blog about using mobile and field service management tools to improve customer satisfaction, and obviously that makes sense: customers pay for your service and help drive revenue for your company.
It’s important to remember the other side of the equation, though: your employees. Some organizations even view them as ‘internal customers.’ Regardless of what specific terminology you use, it’s important to retain employees as well. While there can sometimes be an attitude that people are interchangeable and your services and processes make you money, this isn’t 100% accurate. Finding a new person -- be it a back-office employee or a technician -- takes time, and then training this person to do the job successfully takes more time. You lose (a) knowledge of your business and (b) effective use of time whenever an employee leaves your organization. Both of those make it harder to compete in the marketplace -- and we didn’t even mention that it’s possible your employee left for a direct competitor.
So, the point is: you need to focus on employee retention as much as you focus on customer satisfaction. And much like mobile helps a lot with customer satisfaction, it can also help with employee retention.
You will see this primarily on the technician side. Because of a high degree of specialized knowledge, technicians are often the hardest employees for FSOs to replace.
If you have a good mobile platform that’s integrated with your other systems, your technicians should theoretically be able to:
- See all their appointments in a given day from their phones
- See how close they are to one another and have the option to re-adjust the order based on drive time
- Have customer data and core problems/issues in their phones as well
- Have customer history with notes, also on mobile
- Have a link-up with inventory to make sure they have everything they need for the day, or be able to build in time to visit a warehouse or supply center
- Be able to invoice the customers directly when the jobs are completed on-site
All those aspects will make technicians feel like they have the assets necessary to do their jobs effectively; in short form, it makes them feel respected as members of the overall FSO. Respect is a major factor for employee retention, and that’s been held up by research.
Now consider a mobile platform or solution that isn’t well-integrated, so this happens:
- The technicians lack customer data, history, and information
- The technicians can see their appointments and realize the driving pattern makes no sense, but have little ability to change it
- Inventory isn’t linked, so the technicians are often arriving at customer sites unprepared
- In order to invoice clients, the technicians need to drive back to a home office or just say “I’ll come back another time”
The technicians will ultimately get frustrated at all the logistical problems preventing them from doing their jobs effectively -- and ultimately, they’ll likely look for new jobs (possibly with competitors).
Interestingly, many small business FSOs design or work with mobile solutions in an effort to attract and retain customers, but the bigger value-add to a great mobile solution is the retention of employees who feel more engaged and less frustrated by the processes of the organization.
Two birds with one stone. That’s always a good thing in time-crunched businesses.
If you’re looking to grow your field service SMB, we’ve also prepared an eBook about revenue-generation models, ideas, and principles. It doesn’t reference employee retention per se, but it does speak to the two sides of growing revenue: the process side (your operations) and the planning side (your goals and priorities). They must be aligned for success. You can download the eBook and we’re always here to answer any questions specific to your organization.