Dynamics 365

10 tips for better field service management_

6th Jun 2024 | 9 min read

10 tips for better field service management_

Field service is crucial to the productivity and efficiency of many businesses within the technology and manufacturing industries. It enables them to get hands-on, in-person support when they need it.

However, field service providers face challenges. It’s crucial to manage field service effectively to consistently meet customer expectations and drive internal efficiency. This requires a careful balancing act to manage costs and maintain resource while satisfying customers daily.

Effective management is key to achieving this. With customer requirements higher than ever and costs rising for providers, it’s never been more important.

We’ve listed ten tips to help you improve your field service management for long-term results.

What is field service management?

Field service management is the co-ordination of your resources, including employees and equipment, to complete work (often installation, repairs or maintenance) at a third-party location. Typically, this will be a customer site.

Key components of effective field service management include:

  • Scheduling: Arrange employee schedules, based on planned service appointments and expected work order completion timelines. This enables jobs to be done, without delays to customers.
  • Dispatch management: Coordinate field service agents to different jobs, ensuring the right skills go to the right job.
  • Work order management: Assign and track service work orders from creation through completion to customer invoicing.
  • Inventory management: Keeping track of parts and supplies, with real-time view of what stock you need versus what you have.
  • Contract management: Manage contracts with customers and ensuring service level agreements (SLAs) are met.

The benefits and challenges of field service management

There are multiple benefits to be had when these core components are done effectively. Your customers will experience shorter resolution times, improved access to support and expertise and improved satisfaction. As a business, you’ll benefit from increased uptime, empowered agents, reduced costs and increased efficiency.

However, there are also obstacles that make field service difficult to manage.

Many field service providers find themselves facing significant skills gaps and talent retention issues. These can leave resource stretched, leading to slower turnaround times, stressed agents and difficulty allocating engineers to jobs.

On top of this, many businesses find themselves needing to do more with less. Costs are rising across the board, and field service providers need to protect their own costs while minimising price increases for customers. Improving efficiency and productivity is crucial to do this.

Much of this efficiency is reliant on having the right tools. Technology is developing rapidly, with software now able to support field service providers in scheduling, monitoring and managing processes.

However, it’s crucial for businesses to find the right tools and undergo the change management that enables them to win the rewards.

Ten tips for improve your field service management

So, how can businesses overcome the challenges and drive better field service for their customers? These tips should help you to do exactly that:

1. Track the right metrics

In order to improve performance across field service processes, you need to regularly track the data.

Start by identifying and monitoring key performance indicators that matter most to your business. This could include first-time fix rates, job completion times and customer satisfaction scores.

By tracking these metrics, you can identify areas for improvement and measure the effectiveness of your efforts as you make change.

2. Invest in technician training

It is vital that your field service agents have the skills and expertise to effectively complete tasks and meet customer needs. Ongoing training can ensure their skills and knowledge are kept up to date.

This might include training on new technologies, products and service procedures. Arrange regular sessions to make sure this is a consistent exercise – and ensure your agents are given the time in their schedule to develop their skills.

3. Promote preventative maintenance

It’s easier and cheaper to prevent an issue than trying to fix it after it occurs. So, there’s value in shifting the field service focus from reactive repairs to proactive maintenance.

Encourage customers to schedule regular maintenance checks to identify and address potential problems before they cause breakdowns. This can help reduce downtime, extend equipment life and improve customer satisfaction. It will also minimise the need for agents to respond to emergency call-outs for better predictability and planning.

4. Improve first-time fix rates

In an ideal world, every issue would be resolved first-time. However, to do so, you must ensure technicians have the right parts, tools and information to fix problems on the first visit.

This requires effective inventory management and access to service history data. It’s also beneficial to utilise diagnostic tools that can inform an engineer what the issue is before they even get to site. Then, they can arm themselves with everything they need to fix it, quickly.

5. Embrace technology

Modern solutions can make field service much easier to manage. Field service management software can automate tasks, improve scheduling and routing and track data. It can even help agents to remotely diagnose issues and manage inventory.

By leveraging this technology, you can free up your technicians’ time and improve overall efficiency. It will also make field service easier to manage, with the potential to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Remember to seek solutions that are bespoke to your needs and take time to transition your processes, so that your investment provides the results you want.

6. Minimise manual data entry

Manual tasks are a significant drain on resource. When many businesses are facing skills shortages or high workloads, eliminating time waste is vital.

Automation reduces the need for manually data entry, allowing your agents to reclaim their time. Again, modern field service software should enable automated data collection through mobile apps, sensors and other tools.

This will save your technicians having to manually update records as they go, and reduce the risk of errors or inaccuracies that affect future jobs.

7. Route employees efficiently

Routing is one of the most important elements of field service. To manage SLAs and costs, you’ll want to allocate agents that are available, nearby and have relevant skills for the job in question.

Once again, software can allow you to optimise routes and minimise travel time between jobs. This will help your technicians see more customers in a day and improve overall productivity. It’ll also improve agent satisfaction by reducing the need for them to drive long distances.

8. Utilise the power of data analytics

We’ve already spoken about the need to track performances against KPIs. However, you can also leverage data to identify trends and patterns beyond this.

For example, data can be used to improve scheduling, resource allocation and overall efficiency. You might identify peak service times and adjust staffing accordingly, or use it to shape future recruitment based on customer needs.

However, make sure you have the tools you need to collect this insight, across datapoints that provide meaningful outcomes.

9. Gather customer feedback

The first objective of field service should be to satisfy your customers. So, soliciting their feedback is crucial to driving performance.

Regularly seek feedback from customers about their experience with your field service team, such as sending post-appointment surveys or just giving them a call.

This will help you to identify room for improvement and potential issues. You’ll also ensure that you are meeting customer expectations.

10. Continually monitor and improve

Field service management is an ongoing process. Regularly review your KPIs and other data, with an emphasis on making adjustments as you uncover areas to improve.

It’s also crucial to continue to evolve as the world outside does – including investing in new technology and staff training. This will enable you to retain a competitive edge and drive productivity.

By continuously striving to improve, you can ensure that your field service operation is running smoothly and efficiently.

How Dynamics 365 Field Service helps

Investing in the right tools can revolutionise your field service management. Microsoft offers one of the best solutions available: Dynamics 365 Field Service.

It’s an application that helps organisations deliver onsite service to customer locations. By combining workflow automation, scheduling algorithms and mobility, engineers are empowered to meet customer needs and complete jobs efficiently.

Key features within Dynamics 365 Field Service include:

  • Easy routing: Optimise your service schedule with routing that matches the best resource to customer jobs. You can also quickly reallocate resources as needed, so nothing gets dropped.
  • Real-time communication:  Ensure customer service, dispatch, field service agents and your customers stay on the same page with live progress updates.
  • Manage locations and assets remotely: Store and manage information about your customers’ service locations and all their serviceable assets. This gives engineers the information they need before they reach the site.
  • Configure preventative maintenance: Automatically generate recurring work orders to ensure equipment is always maintained.
  • Track inventory: Dynamics 365 includes an inventory management system that tracks real-time inventory levels by warehouse and includes all mobile truck stock. Engineers can check they have the materials they need, on the go.
  • Remote Assist: Empowers technicians to collaborate and solve problems with remote collaborators using Remote Assist on HoloLens, Android or iOS devices. This reduces travel time and cost and guarantees a faster fix.
  • Dynamics 365 Guides: Using Dynamics 365 Guides,engineers can have access to all the mixed-reality tools they need to conduct maintenance effectively and drive their skill level further.

With this functionality, Dynamics 365 helps you to reduce call out costs, drive customer satisfaction and allocate resource adequately.

Get started with Dynamics 365 Field Service

Dynamics 365 Field Service offers significant benefits to field service managers and agents, allowing for leaner, efficient support for customers. With cutting-edge innovation, it makes field service management simple.

A Dynamics 365 Field Service licence starts from only £71.60 per user per month, so it’s also cost-effective. You can also customise your deployment, so it completely fits your objectives and processes.

For effective implementation, you should work with a Microsoft partner who can build an out-of-the-box solution to fulfil your specific objectives.

As one of the largest Dynamics partners in the UK, Infinity Group boasts an elite team of certified consultants who know the challenges of field service intrinsically. As such, we’re well equipped to plan, tailor and support your field service management, fuelled by Dynamics 365.

Get in touch today to speak to one of our experts.

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