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Transform Your Field Technical Support Services

Improve service and reduce costs through digital transformation.

  • Redefine the role of deskside or field technicians as demand for service evolves and service teams are restructured.
  • Redefine the role of onsite technicians when the help desk is outsourced.
  • Define requirements when supplementing with outsourced field services teams.
  • Identify barriers to streamlining processes.
  • Look for opportunities to streamline processes and better use technical teams.
  • Communicate and manage change to support roles.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Service needs to be defined in a way that considers the organizational need for local, hands-on technicians, the need for customer service, and the need to make the best use of resources that you have.
  • Service level agreements will need to be refined and metrics will need to be analyzed for capacity and skilled planning.
  • Organizational change management will be key to persuade users to engage with the technical team in a way that supports the new structure.

Impact and Result

  • Many IT teams are struggling to keep up with demand while trying to refocus on customer service. With more remote workers than ever, organizations who have traditionally provided desktop and field services have been revaluating the role of the field service technicians. Add in the price of fuel, and there is even more reason to assess the support model.
  • Often changes to the way IT does support, especially if moving centralized support to an outsourcer, is met with resistance by end users who don’t see the value of phoning someone else when their local technician is still available to problem solve. This speaks to the need to ensure the central group is providing value to end users as well as the technical team.
  • With the challenges of finding the right number of technicians with the right skills, it’s time to rethink remote support and how that can be used to train and upskill the people you have. And it’s time to think about how to use field services tools to make the best use of your technician’s time.

Transform Your Field Technical Support Services Research & Tools

1. Transform Field Services Guide – A brief deck that outlines key migration steps to improve our remote client support services.

This blueprint will help you:

  1. Define your customer intake.
  2. Improve communications.
  3. Enable and optimize work-from-anywhere.
  4. Improve triage and troubleshooting services.
  5. Properly manage end-user and management expectations.

2. Transform Field Services Template – A template to create a transformation proposal.

This template will help you to build your proposal to transform your field services.


Transform Your Field Technical Support Services

Improve service and reduce costs through digital transformation.

Analyst Perspective

Improve staffing challenges through digital transformation.

Many IT teams are struggling to keep up with demand while trying to refocus on customer service. With more remote workers than ever, organizations who have traditionally provided desktop and field services have been revaluating the role of the field service technicians. Add in the price of fuel, and there is even more reason to assess the support model. Often changes to the way IT does support, especially if moving centralized support to an outsourcer, is met with resistance by end users who don’t see the value of phoning someone else when their local technician is still available to problem solve. This speaks to the need to ensure the central group is providing value to end users as well as the technical team. With the challenges of finding the right number of technicians with the right skills, it’s time to rethink remote support and how that can be used to train and upskill the people you have. And it’s time to think about how to use field services tools to make the best use of your technician’s time.

The image contains a picture of Sandi Conrad.

Sandi Conrad

Principal Research Director

Infrastructure & Operations Practice

Info-Tech Research Group

Executive Summary

Your Challenge

With remote work becoming a normal employee offering for many organizations, self-serve/self-solve becoming more prominent, and a common call out to improve customer service, there is a need to re-examine the way many organizations are supplying onsite support. For organizations with a small number of offices, a central desk with remote tools may be enough or can be combined with a concierge service or technical center, but for organizations with multiple offices it becomes difficult to provide a consistent level of service for all customers unless there is a team onsite for each location. This may not be financially possible if there isn’t enough work to keep a technical team busy full-time.

Common Obstacles

Where people have a choice between calling a central phone number or talking to the technician down the hall, the in-person experience often wins out. End users may resist changes to in-person support as work is rerouted to a centralized group by choosing to wait for their favorite technician to show up onsite rather than reporting issues centrally. This can make the job of the onsite technician more challenging as they need to schedule time in every visit for unplanned work. And where technicians need to support multiple locations, travel needs to be calculated into lost technician time and costs.

Info-Tech’s Approach

  • Service needs to be defined in a way that considers the organizational need for local, hands-on technicians, the need for customer service, and the need to make the best use of resources that you have.
  • Service-level agreements will need to be refined and metrics will need to be analyzed for capacity and skilled planning.
  • Organizational change management will be key to persuade users to engage with the technical team in a way that supports the new structure.

Info-Tech Insight

Improving process will be helpful for smaller teams, but as teams expand or work gets more complicated, investment in appropriate tools to support field services technicians will enable them to be more efficient, reduce costs, and improve outcomes when visits are warranted.

Your challenge

This research is designed to help organizations who are looking to:

  • Redefine the role of deskside or field technicians as demand for service evolves and service teams are restructured.
  • Redefine the role of onsite technicians when the help desk is outsourced.
  • Define requirements when supplementing with outsourced field services teams.
  • Identify barriers to streamlining processes.
  • Look for opportunities to streamline processes and better use technical teams.
  • Communicate and manage change to support roles.

With many companies having new work arrangements for users, where remote work may be a permanent offering or if your digital transformation is well underway, this provides an opportunity to rethink how field support needs to be done.

What is field services?

Field services is in-person support delivered onsite at one or more locations. Management of field service technicians may include queue management, scheduling service and maintenance requests, triaging incidents, dispatching technicians, ordering parts, tracking job status, and billing.

The image contains a diagram to demonstrate what may be supported by field services and what should be supported by field services.

What challenges are you trying to solve within your field services offering?

Focus on the reasons for the change to ensure the outcome can be met. Common goals include improved customer service, better technician utilization, and increased response time and stability.

  • Discuss specific challenges the team feels are contributing to less-than-ideal customer service.
  • Does the team have the skills, knowledge, and tools they need to be successful? Technicians may be solving issues with the customer looking over their shoulder. Having quick access to knowledge articles or to subject matter experts who can provide deeper expertise remotely may be the difference between a single visit to resolve or multiple or extended visits.
  • What percentage of tickets would benefit from triage and troubleshooting done remotely before sending a technician onsite? Where there are a high number of no-fault-found visits, this may be imperative to improving technician availability.
  • Review method for distribution of tickets, including batching criteria and dispatching of technicians. Are tickets being dispatched efficiently? By location and/or priority? Is there an attempt to solve more tickets centrally? Should there be? What SLA adjustment is reasonable for onsite visits?
  • Has the support value been defined?
The image contains a graph to demonstrate Case Casuals in Field Services, where the highest at 55% is break/fix.

Field services will see the biggest improvements through technology updates

Customer Intake

Provide tools for scheduling technicians, self-serve and self- or assisted-solve through ITSM or CRM-based portal and visual remote tools.

The image contains a picture to demonstrate the different field services.

Triage and Troubleshoot

Upgrade remote tools to visual remote solutions to troubleshoot equipment as well as software. Eliminate no-fault-found visits and improve first-time fix rate by visually inspecting equipment before technician deployments.

Improve Communications

FSM GPS and SMS updates can be set to notify customers when a technician is close by and can be used for customer sign-off to immediately update service records and launch survey or customer billing where applicable.

Schedule Technicians

Field service management (FSM) ITSM modules will allow skills-based scheduling for remote technicians and determine best route for multi-site visits.

Enable Work From Anywhere

FSM mobile applications can provide technicians with daily schedules, turn-by-turn directions, access to inventory, knowledge articles, maintenance, and warranty and asset records. Visual remote captures service records and enables access to SMEs.

Manage Expectations

Know where technicians are for routing to emergency calls and managing workload using field service management solutions with GPS.

Digital transformation can dramatically improve customer and technician experience

The image contains an arrown that dips and rises dramatically to demonstrate how digital transformation can dramatically increase customer and technician experience.
Sources: 1 - TechSee, 2019; 2 - Glartek; 3 - Geoforce; 4 - TechSee, 2020

Improve technician utilization and scheduling with field services management software

Field services management (FSM) software is designed to improve scheduling of technicians by skills and location while reducing travel time and mileage. When integrated with ITSM software, the service record is transferred to the field technician for continuity and to prepare for the job. FSM mobile apps will enable technicians to receive schedule updates through the day and through GPS update the dispatcher as technicians move from site to site.

FSM solutions are designed to manage large teams of technicians, providing automated dispatch recommendations based on skills matching and proximity.

Routes can be mapped to reduce travel time and mileage and adjusted to respond to emergency requests by technician skills or proximity. Automation will provide suggestions for work allocation.

Spare parts management may be part of a field services solution, enabling technicians to easily identify parts needed and update real-time inventory as parts are deployed.

Push notifications in real-time streamline communications from the field to the office, and enable technicians to close service records while in the field.

Dispatchers can easily view availability, assign work orders, attach notes to work orders, and immediately receive updates if technicians acknowledge or reject a job.

Maintenance work can be built into online checklists and forms to provide a technician with step-by-step instructions and to ensure a complete review.

Skills and location-based routing allow dispatchers to be able to see closest tech for emergency deployments.

Improve time to resolve while cutting costs by using visual remote support tools

Visual remote support tools enable live video sessions to clearly see what the client or field service technician sees, enabling the experts to provide real-time assistance where the experts will provide guidance to the onsite person. Getting a view of the technology will reduce issues with getting the right parts, tools, and technicians onsite and dramatically reduce second visits.

Visual remote tools can provide secure connections through any smartphone, with no need for the client to install an application.

The technicians can take control of the camera to zoom in, turn on the flashlight for extra lighting, take photos, and save video directly to the tickets.

Optical character recognition allows automatic text capture to streamline process to check warranty, recalls, and asset history.

Visual, interactive workflows enhance break/fix and inspections, providing step-by-step guidance visual evidence and using AI and augmented reality to assess the images, and can provide next steps by connecting to a visual knowledgebase.

Integration with field service management tools will allow information to easily be captured and uploaded immediately into the service record.

Self-serve is available through many of these tools, providing step-by-step instructions using visual cues. These solutions are designed to work in low-bandwidth environments, using Wi-Fi or cellular service, and sessions can be started with a simple link sent through SMS.

Determine the baseline level of end-user satisfaction

Run an end-user satisfaction survey to baseline sentiment of IT support. This is a excellent way to look for ways to improve service while transitioning to a centralized service desk and identify focus areas where there may still be a need for onsite technicians.

Note: If end users aren’t happy with the centralized service desk, they won’t make it easy to change the role of the onsite technician.

The image contains a screenshot of the end user satisfaction survey, specifically the general overview page. The image contains a screenshot of the end user satisfaction survey, specifically the business & IT communication overview page.

Establish current and target maturity

Determine where your field services are in the maturity scale and where you would like be as you start to make improvements.

The image contains a screenshot of Info-Tech's Maturity ladder as described in the text beside it.

Innovator – Optimized Support

All items from Proactive Support plus:

  • Digital transformation executed and able to use remote tools to reduce second visits, no-fault-found visits and engage with subject matter experts when needed.
  • Field service solutions are employed to schedule and support technicians.

Business & Technology Partner – Proactive Support

All items from Controlled Support plus:

  • Central help desk performs triage to assess the issue and attempt to resolve.
  • Onsite technicians are scheduled as needed.
  • Technicians experience very little unplanned work as end users know to set up appointments.

1 year target

Trusted Operator – Controlled Support

  • Tickets are created for most issues and time is scheduled for proactive maintenance.
  • Technicians are scheduled and deployed according to set SLAs for onsite visits.
  • Technicians front load their workday to accommodate unplanned work once they arrive onsite.

Firefighter – Reactive Support

  • Tickets bundled for onsite visits, with little regard for SLAs, unless issue is critical.
  • Users do not proactively report issues, so technicians often fall behind with unplanned work in each visit.

current

Unreliable – Struggles to Support

  • No data, or data is typically unusable.
  • Ad hoc assignments as tickets come in, some of which should be resolved remotely.
  • Workload is unmanageable due to volume of unplanned work.

Determine the level of support to be offered

VIP services for end users imply high-speed, high-quality, and high-touch service. The decision to include VIP service will be dependent on proximity to technicians. Field techs who are several hours away will not be meeting all three criteria, but a ten-minute drive or walk might still qualify as VIP. Determine scope by defining VIP recipients and SLAs, and staff accordingly.

Systems support services will need to determine the skill level needed for onsite options. A generalist can solve many issues, but with specialized equipment, there will need to be a review of options. Do you need “specialized hands” onsite or will any skilled hands do? Do you have tools for specialists to remote support from a central location or will they need to travel? Will staff be needed full-time onsite?

The image contains a screenshot of a diagram to demonstrate the leels of support, for end user and systems.

Define your overarching field service goals

Customer Satisfaction

Technician Satisfaction

Cost containment and/or profitability

Ideal

One visit = resolution

Meet commitments in time allocated

Reduce overtime, travel time and costs while meeting client expectations

Timing

Set appointments and know when to expect service to be complete

Workable daily schedule with plan on how to be most effective

Dispatch technicians to minimize travel time and multi-visit solutions

Communications

Status updates, fully prepared technician ready to resolve issue(s)

Fully informed with the right parts & tools to do the job(s)

Remote triage to schedule the right tech with the right parts at the right time

Technology

Self-serve for appointment setting and updates, work sign-off

Workable daily schedule, with sensible routing and prioritization

Use of IoT sensors, systems management & visual remote tools to troubleshoot

Determine what type of customer experience is most important to your support needs

Office locations and proximity to each other and number of users at each location will be critical to thinking about how many technicians will be needed and where they are located.

  1. Determine if reporting is accurate to understand the actual volume of tickets and time to repair. If not, work with the team to do reasonable estimates. Start improving documentation.
  2. Determine an acceptable distance between offices if there will not be full-time onsite technical staff at each location. Structure and size of the team will be determined by what is acceptable.
    • 1-hour distance = 2 hours of travel time where the technician is not problem solving
    • 1-day distance = 2 days of travel time where the technician is not problem solving
  3. Determine the preferred method of travel, the average time to each location, and the appropriate number of visits, based on ticket types and volumes.
    • Travel by car will require mileage payments and parking reimbursements, may require higher wages to ensure technicians can afford vehicle and upkeep
    • Travel by subway requires monthly passes
    • Determining best travel routes may become part of the queue manager’s job
The image contains a three circle venn diagram. Each circle has its own label: High Speed, High Quality, and High Touch.

Info-Tech Insight

Reevaluate the level of service needed at each location. Is it work that could be done quickly and of high-quality using remote tools? If you need service to be high-touch, can you do this with an outsourcer and can you guarantee quality and speed? If you need all three, and the location is remote, should you put someone onsite and have them supplement the central help desk?

Improve customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction will be delivered through a balanced approach that includes quick time to resolution and a great experience with the technician.

  • Determine if the great experience will be provided entirely through the onsite, personal touch or if the need for quick resolution can also include remote triage, as remote triage will be key to assign the right technician with the right parts and tools.
  • Where regular schedules can be set up for onsite visits, notify the site manager and users which days you’ll be there. Strongly encourage them to put in tickets to ensure technician time can be scheduled appropriately. When time permits, encourage technicians to do walk-throughs to catch any service issues that may need to be addressed or scheduled.
  • If self-serve options exist within the ITSM solution, encourage users to set up appointments as they create tickets for those services that are best served by a field technician.

Advice for MSPs

Quick time to resolution will increase client satisfaction and, therefore, retention. Use a variety of tools to improve the scheduling process, obtain customer sign-off, launch surveys, create maintenance records, and initiate billing when appropriate.

  • Remoting into a user’s machine at the central help desk would allow a software configuration change or update to happen very quickly, negating the need for a technician to be onsite.
  • Using visual remote would allow a technician to see the physical environment, helping a client know which port to plug a cable into, or to know which parts should be ordered and ready for the technician to install.
  • Where IoT sensors are available for systems monitoring and tools are connected, take time to analyze the data to better inform the technician before going onsite to determine which set of skills, tools, and parts are needed to resolve.
  • Update tickets and attach photos or video to the ticket to create a service history to watch for opportunities to proactively improve service or warranty experiences. Watch for patterns that may be plaguing end users and impacting their ability to work.

Info-Tech Insight

SLAs may need to be less focused on solving specific issues within a specific time frame and may need to be adjusted to measure time to triage, time to set appointment, and technician’s ability to resolve on the first visit.

Improve technician satisfaction

Technicians are often struggling to keep up with a heavy workload. Use technology to provide them with a workable daily schedule with sensible routing and prioritization.

  • Ensure the centralized help desk team is equipped with the knowledge to ask the right questions and troubleshoot issues that don’t require a technician to be physically present. Remote tools will help to troubleshoot or adequately describe the work the technician will be expected to perform when onsite.
  • Analysis of data coming from IoT sensors, where applicable, can provide a technician with the information they’ll need to quickly solve connectivity, positioning, or power issues. Use remotely collected data whenever possible before going onsite.
  • Information at their fingertips will make technicians more effective. Ensuring technicians can access what assets are assigned to the user or location will be key to knowing what parts to bring, what work should be done under warranty, and when to consider fully replacing equipment as it ages out or becomes unstable. Ensure site-specific information and contacts are also available.

Info-Tech Insight

All technical teams can benefit from best dispatching principles, including grouping work by location, adding appropriate travel time and flexibility when needed for challenging locations or high traffic areas. Be proactive when you can to solve small problems before they become bigger outages.

  • Large field services teams will need dedicated staff to direct technicians to the right location, ensuring they have the tools and parts required and they are maximizing their dedicated work time and minimizing travel time.
  • Use of field services software, available as separate modules in some ITSM and CRM solutions, will enable technicians to manage their daily workload on their smartphones, access knowledge articles and maintenance checklists, and use their GPS to inform dispatchers of their locations for emergency deployments.
  • Integration of visual remote solutions can enable technicians to connect with subject matter experts to obtain direction for service restoration, including video annotation to improve specificity of directions.

Advice for MSPs

Hands on keyboards don’t necessarily need to be specialists. Positioning specialists in a centralized location to provide remote support to technical generalists will enable a flexible resolution to staffing issues.

Technician tips for onsite visits

✓ Encourage end users to submit tickets for all work to enable better planning. Work with primary site manager to develop a culture of planning ahead for your time.

✓ Work with primary site contact to set up a regular cadence for site visits when applicable.

✓ Front load your day with important maintenance and scheduled incident resolution to be able to accommodate any unplanned work that is surfaced once onsite. Where there is more work than can be accommodated, review list of tickets to see what may be resolvable by the help desk using remote tools.

✓ Record relevant information in service record as soon as possible to close off work orders on time and to start generating accurate data for time spent on different task types.

✓ Work with the team to create maintenance checklists to ensure all tasks are completed every time, regardless of which technician is deployed. Knowledge articles will also be useful for ensuring technicians can resolve issues consistently while onsite.

✓ Encourage your fellow technicians and subject matter experts to support each other to reduce second visits on the same issue. Use remote tools where appropriate.

✓ Where flexibility has been built into the day, and if you know users are still not submitting tickets, do a walk-through before leaving to see if there are additional tasks that need to be done.

✓ Where multisite visits are scheduled, being stricter with not accepting unplanned work will be critical to meeting expectations.

✓ Look for opportunities to streamline and continually improve onsite support experiences for yourself and the customer.

Review your processes around dispatch to look for opportunities to improve

✓Set expectations by determining appropriate SLAs for resolving issues onsite. SLAs will need to include a buffer for scheduling time onsite. Work with the business to find a reasonable wait time based on issue type. This may include negotiations to allow more remote triage and troubleshooting. If there are critical systems or urgency or premium service requirements that need to be considered, determine how you will prioritize them over other scheduled work.

✓ Schedule work orders based on skills required, location, and time allocation for work type. If this information isn’t available in past service records, work with the team to record information and categorize and close tickets to improve work type time estimates starting as soon as possible.

✓ Allocate adequate time for travel, keeping regular traffic patterns in mind to accommodate for rush hour issues, and provide adequate time for technicians to leave and return home within a reasonable workday.

✓ Provide technicians with smartphone apps that will allow them to view their schedule and receive updates as well as viewing, updating, and closing service records. Equip them with the tools to do turn-by-turn mapping, when appropriate, to accommodate for traffic and ensure they’re taking the best route to arrive on time.

✓ Have your technicians regularly check in through the app, through service record updates, or GPS updates in a field services application to accommodate schedule adjustments for small jobs, delivery, or emergency work orders.

✓ Support technicians through remote triage, knowledgebase articles, and peer and subject matter expert access using chat or remote tools.

✓ Use asset management best practices with effective spare parts inventory management and use of standard equipment whenever possible to allow inventory swaps. Ensure equipment specs, age, warranty, and support information is available when they need it.

✓ Make sure technicians have relevant site location information, including primary and secondary contact, commitments made for site visits, protocols, equipment access, and parking.

✓ Work with your team to validate all service records are up to date, and look for ways to streamline the process for yourself and technicians and to improve customer service.

End-user deskside and field services

Improving customer service should be a major factor in your decisions to provide field services, but don’t let the idea of face-to-face work be the only marker. If not staffed and managed properly, a premium service will result in people getting frustrated because they need to wait until they catch the eye of the local technician. Think about the type of issues that need to be solved. Does it always make sense to be there in person if work can be done remotely or in the background while the user continues to work on other things? Is there a way to put in a ticket to get in the queue? Can technicians predict when they’ll be able to show up? Do users have to wait because of “shoulder grabs”? Can technicians resolve most tickets on the first visit, or do they need to consult knowledge articles or other technicians or escalate a large percentage?

01 Premium (VIP) Service
  • Most resource-intensive solution, need to find a way to track metrics
  • Staff will need very strong customer service and technical skills
  • If staffed correctly, can provide the highest level of customer satisfaction
  • Will cause disparity of service between remote and onsite employees

Most expensive!

02 Deskside Support to Supplement Service Desk
  • Centralized service desk will provide remote services, triage and troubleshoot, and schedule
  • Deskside or field service visits for hands-on work, travel time will be part of the staffing and productivity metrics
  • If central service desk isn’t work well, users will go direct to technicians
03 Deskside and Local Systems Support
  • Centralized service desk will provide remote services, triage, troubleshoot, and schedule
  • Combined roles for deskside or field service and systems support visits for hands-on work
  • Need broader skills, including organizational and communications, to ensure systems support work isn’t interrupted by end-user support; may include remote support by specialists

Determine the type of services to provide in-person value for end users

Review the types of tickets your field technicians are doing today. Think about the end users, their stakeholders, and the results of your feedback surveys. Is there a need for more in-person service, better in-person service, or improved speed to resolve? Improved speed to resolve will be possible through remote solutions. More in-person service will be resolved through addition of technicians to the team. Better in-person service can be resolved through a combination of the two approaches, triaging through remote, solving when possible, and dispatching a field technician where appropriate. The opportunity for the help desk team is to continually look at improving skills and knowledge sharing the triage, troubleshooting, and escalation process, and for management to communicate expectations, so users will want to register their issue with the service desk, rather than waiting for a technician to show up.

What does the service look like in your ideal state? (Incidents versus service requests)

  1. Printers: Repair, toner, supplies
  2. End-user support: Executive services, VIP, department specific
  3. Commodity items (mice/keyboards): Is there stock of commodity items onsite that could be deployed without a technician?
  4. Deployment/device delivery: Do users unbox/rebox equipment or is a technician required for set up? Can software be loaded remotely or imaged prior to delivery?
  5. Self-serve: Is it easy for users to create tickets? Upload pictures? Is there benefit to interactive instructions being created?
The image contains a diagram to help determine which type of service to provide.

Systems support and field services

03 Deskside and Local Systems Support
  • Best practice includes scheduling maintenance and systems project work with room to accommodate end-user issues while onsite
  • Encourage users to submit tickets for scheduling but expect some “while you’re here” moments. Work with local management to set expectations to balance workload
04 Systems Support With Remote Specialists
  • Support specialists will be supporting end users except in exceptional circumstances
  • Focus will be on hands-on work, which may include proactive maintenance, installations, moves, upgrades, and projects
  • Will partner with specialists working remotely, using tools to remote in, monitoring tools and visual cues from the onsite technicians
05 Systems Support With Specialized Technicians
  • Centralized service desk may provide remote services, triage, and troubleshoot
  • Dispatchers will schedule technicians as needed to provide onsite support for engineers

Most expensive

What type of services need to be provided for systems?

Review the types of tickets your field technicians are doing today. Think about stability, proactive maintenance, and speed to repair for any systems that don’t have a dedicated technician. Determine where repairs can be done with any skilled technician or where there may be a need for a specialist. Can the specialist(s) deliver on all of those services or can they advise a skilled generalist if they can remotely view the system the technician is repair? Using visual remote options also enhances training for generalists, allowing them to gain on-the-job skills uplifts.

What does the service look like in your ideal state? (Incidents versus maintenance)

  1. Installation – unbox, install, configure, verify it works as designed, set the baseline for operations
  2. Maintenance
    1. Corrective – break/fix, calibration
    2. Preventative – inspection, replace worn parts, review data if equipment is connected and has activity logs, may be able to remotely troubleshoot to order or bring spare parts
    3. Proactive – check activity logs, watch for anomalies, and replace parts before they break
  3. Adoption Services – watch how people work, suggest different setups or different workflows, and understand their issues with the way things are currently working
  4. Office moves, setups, keeping the lights on, networking, backend system, and maintenance

Generators or industrial equipment – all should have a maintenance contract with onsite repair clauses that would include a technician and preventative maintenance.

The image contains a diagram to demonstrate the type of services required for systems.

Considerations for service improvement

Self-Service and Web Portal

Provide an opportunity for end users to record their request or issue in the ticketing system. If this can be supported with creating appointments, users will have options for when they need to be available to receive support. Appointments must be available in the short term, so this will need to be staffed appropriately. Service requests should be fulfilled remotely whenever possible.

Queue Management

Employ someone to manage the queue and prioritize the work. Where field techs will need to travel, use of dispatch principles and tools will be critical to making the best use of their time and meeting SLAs. Ensure technicians have the tools at their disposal to be able to create tickets for shoulder grabs and work on the next prioritized customer.

Knowledge Management & SLAs

Time to resolve is a critical factor in customer service when a technician is working in front of the customer. The longer they watch the technician work, the more frustrated they will be. Set a reasonable time to resolve target, use knowledge articles, and know when to escalate or provide a loaner machine.

Remote Support

Software and patch deployment can be done both remotely and in the background without impacting users. Remote tools to solve software or configuration problems can improve elapsed time to resolve and enable experts to weigh in on tougher issues or troubleshoot prior to deploying onsite.

Asset Management

Asset management best practices include deploying standard equipment whenever possible to ease parts and loaner equipment management. Knowing what machines are onsite, how often they have issues and what is covered under warranty can allow proactive replacement and maintenance and help technicians know what parts to have shipped or to store at each location.

Work with the business to define how services should be offered and managed

Prioritization of tickets may be different for sites that have permanently housed technicians versus those who need to wait for a technician to arrive. Determining what is an acceptable wait time for different ticket types and their priorities will be a factor in setting reasonable SLAs.

  • Ticket types will need to be prioritized for onsite visits based on existing urgency and impact SLAs. Critical systems will need immediate deployments, high priority may be same day, but medium/normal impact may need to wait multiple days. Work with the business to determine maximum acceptable wait time, then staff accordingly.
  • Strongly encourage users to put in tickets, even when planning for regular site visits. Planning will ensure tickets are prioritized and managed without needing to ask technicians to work overtime at the last minute to meet client expectations.
  • Where there are still unscheduled work orders when arriving onsite, have technicians record the interactions to track the volume of extra work. This will be important for measuring technician effectiveness and ensure technology issues are tracked.
  • Consider whether transactional surveys will need to be sent out after onsite visits and what the follow-up process will look like if there are negative survey results.

The image contains a diagram to demonstrate how to define how services should be offered and managed.

Refer to the Incident Management and Service Desk SOP templates for an example

Define how you will measure and show progress on your goals

Goals

Metrics

Description & Actions

Customer Service

  • Customer satisfaction

Set up a transactional survey for feedback once the issue has been resolved or client has signed off. Follow up on low scores.

Customer Service

  • SLA compliance

Track SLAs for onsite visits as well as appointments missed or late. Determine if adjustments need to be made for response time, time allocated for repair, travel time, or training.

Customer Service

Efficiency & Cost Effectiveness

  • First-time fix rate
  • Number of repeat visits

Aim to solve all issues on the first visit through effective triage, spare parts management, and validation that issue is resolved. Identify repeat visits for the same issue and look for root cause.

Efficiency & Cost Effectiveness

  • Average travel time, distance, and cost
  • Technician utilization (hours spent on service/total hours worked)

Set up routes for most effective travel, group tickets by location, and look for opportunities to resolve issues remotely where time is critical or issue may not need a physical presence.

Consistency of Service Offering

  • Mean time to repair (time from issue report to resolution)
  • Mean time to completion (total time spent on jobs/number of jobs)

Track average time to complete specific tasks to determine if service is provided consistently and if there is need for improved documentation or training.

Improve Overall Service Effectiveness

  • Use of remote tools to deflect an onsite visits
  • No-fault-found issues (solved remotely & onsite)
  • Peer support or escalations done remotely
  • Emergency deployments

Monitor use of tools to resolve tickets early, reducing or eliminating unnecessary site visits.

Assess prioritization process and root cause of emergency deployments.

What does all this mean from a staffing perspective?

Process streamlining will help with calculating the number of technicians required, but this may be complicated if the business is not aligned to IT’s plan. There is a difference between unplanned work and unscheduled, unplanned work.

  • When determining the number of staff required, look at historical information to see what ticket volume is being managed with onsite personnel. The level of support required and the culture of the organization may make this a difficult number to definitively calculate. If staff can be trained to put in tickets for scheduling, accuracy may be improved. Where onsite support is a chargeable service, this may be easier to control.
  • Account for traffic and travel time variations with multisite trips, as different times during the day or parts of a city can play havoc with metrics.
  • Monitor work load to see where improvements are made as more remote support triage and troubleshooting is enabled and also to determine when it might make sense to put technicians permanently onsite.
  • Ensure problem management is employed with field services work to reduce recurring issues, especially where the recurring issues are impacting the same person.

Monitor Reactive Hours per Employee per Month (RHEM)

Number of reactive tickets x Hours spent / Number of endpoints you support

This will provide a quick comparison of different locations and provide a view into how many technicians will be needed for scheduled maintenance and reactive incident resolution.

(MSPs with RHEM of 30 minutes or more struggle with profitability)*

*Source: Gary Pica, TruMethods LLC, via Channel Pro Network

Don’t discount the need to manage change from many levels

Equip the technical team with messaging to encourage users to buy into the new way of doing business.

As transitions happen to centralize service desks and technicians are moved officially to the role of field tech or even into the role of engineer, we often see end users fighting hard to keep their favorite technician by their side.

Look for multiple ways to communicate, starting with:

  1. Formal announcements on role changes
  2. Regular reminders, including notes on best ways to engage and schedule technicians
  3. Formal feedback mechanism from end users and business units to work on continual improvement
  4. Reporting back to business units on proactive, scheduled work and reactive, unplanned technician grabs

Messaging must include goals, reasons for changes, and how to provide feedback.

To see success, communication and improved customer service is key.

Don’t discount the value of a strong, customer-focused service desk as part of the equation to get success with field services.

Review processes and tools to see what needs to be modernized for your field services practice

The image contains an example of reviewing processes and tools throughout the year to see what needs to be modernized for your field services practice.

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Bibliography

“Ahead of the KPI Curve: How visual Assistance Boosts All Customer Service Metrics.” TechSee, 24 Aug. 2019. Web.

Caldwell, A. “A Comprehensive Guide to Field Service Metrics & Key Performance Indicators.” NetSuite, 28 January 2022. Accessed 16 July 2022.

“Free Visual Remote Assistance Solution.” Glartek, n.d. Web.

Galovski, V. The State of Field Services 2022. TSIA, 22 January 2022. Web.

“How to dispatch field service technicians: 6 tips.” Next Service Software, 21 January 2021. Accessed 16 July 2022.

Lamirand, D. “6 Tips for Making Sure your Dispatchers Keep your Techs’ Schedules Moving.” Service Titan, 17 December 2020. Accessed July 2022.

Maria, M. “How to increase first time fix rates.” Fresh Desk, 12 June 2020. Accessed 16 July 2022.

“On Time, On budget, A Guide to New Strategies and Technologies for Field Operations Leaders.” Geoforce, May 2021. Web.

Santosus, M. “Metrics that Matter.” Channel Pro Network, n.d. Accessed 16 July 2022.

Shenoy, G. “Introducing Field Service Management.” Fresh Desk, 15 July 2019. Accessed 16 July 2022.

Taylor, DP. “A Guide for Technician Scheduling: 6 Tools & Tips.” The Ascent, 18 May 2022. Accessed 16 July 2022.

“TechSee Live Field Services, Visual Technical Enablement Powered by Computer Vision Ai & AR.” TechSee, 2020. Web.

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