When your business depends on a dynamic team of mobile workers, it’s not easy to keep track of everyone at all times. Without the right data—and the right tools to collect them—many managers are left in the dark about their workers’ daily progress.
You may find yourself asking questions like:
- How many clients are your mobile workers meeting with per day?
- How long do these appointments actually take?
- What billable and non-billable tasks are completed during these visits?
- Are they driving the most efficient route possible?
- Do they have the information and equipment they need to do the job correctly?
When employees are out in the field with customers, every interaction is a reflection of your company brand. Therefore, the more you understand about when and how these interactions take place, the more you can do to improve the strength of your brand, retain current customers, and obtain more.
What is Workforce Visibility?
Complete workforce visibility means having data on employee skills, experience, and tenure, as well as real-time data on employee locations, current job assignments, and work in progress. When the concept of workforce visibility is applied operationally, it means knowing where your workers are, which customer they are working with at that moment, where they are traveling to, who they are working with in the future, and how all these activities fit into the broader execution of your business.
Maintaining visibility of mobile workers and their workflow in real-time is critical to the success of your business. Any worker who is interacting with a customer is representing the company brand, and when doing the work effectively, helping retain loyal customers.
Moving toward true workforce visibility often involves mobile workforce management tools that gather disparate data points into one system of record for easier analysis and business insights. Read on to learn more about the value of workforce visibility, common challenges associated with it, and best practices you can follow for your own workforce!
What are the Challenges of Workforce Visibility?
Mobile workers are expected to make up 42.5% of the entire global workforce by 2022. As mobile work and home services gain steam in every industry, leaders are trying to figure out how to keep track of employee activities and workflows outside of the office, as well as gather and share real-time data.
Challenges of obtaining full visibility include: incomplete records of employee skills and certifications, lack of real-time tracking capabilities, inefficient communication between workers and the back office, and disparate data sets that don’t allow for easy comparison.
True workforce visibility requires:
- Knowing the makeup of your workforce, such as having a record of each employees’ skills, experience, specialized training, and certifications.
- Monitoring each employee in real-time while working, including seeing locations, tracking their travel, understanding where they are headed next, and what potential delays they are facing outside the office.
- Communicating with field workers, including giving employees the ability to quickly communicate with the right people at the office to resolve customer problems, get the right equipment, or work through other challenges.
- Having a unified view of all customer data in a centralized system that integrates data from the field and back office to provide an up-to-the-minute history of each customer, employee interaction, service request, billing status, feedback, and more.
The manual data collection methods of the past simply don’t cut it for the workforce visibility needed to stay competitive today. If a manager relies on a paper schedule of the day’s appointments, they simply will not know which customers called to cancel their appointments, the employee who got sick and had to head home early, or the field tech who forgot a key piece of equipment and had to push back other appointments. Spreadsheets, legacy software systems, and stacks of paperwork can’t keep up with the challenges and requirements of today’s competitive environment.
Why Mobile Workforce Visibility is Critical to Success
When you don’t have visibility into what is happening on site with clients, or tools to ensure worker accountability, inefficiencies and poor customer experiences are all but guaranteed. And those negative experiences will hit your bottom line.
Even when a service level agreement (SLA) exists between the vendor and client, detailing responsibilities on each side of the relationship, customers can be disappointed in their experience. If a worker is incorrectly matched to a job, lacking the skills, information, or relationship with the customer needed to deliver to the customer’s expectations, it doesn’t matter whether or not specific provisions of an SLA were met. The customer will not be satisfied, regardless of contractual obligations.
Negative customer experiences and references can lead to a significant loss of revenue. Forty percent of unhappy customers are simply going to switch vendors. An overwhelming majority of customers are willing to share their bad experiences, and nearly half will post negative comments on social media. According to Inc.com, the average person has 300 connections on social media, so every negative post about your brand on social media has a dramatic multiplier effect.
According to the Aberdeen Group’s report “State of Service 2017: Lead with Customer Experience, and Efficiency Will Follow,” customer loyalty hinges on several activities: listening to customers, providing a well-rounded experience, and responding to requests promptly so customers expend less effort getting their service request fulfilled.
Mobile workers need real-time access to customer data while on the job to be prepared with the equipment, context, and customer history they need to provide excellent service. This supports high-quality customer service across the board, while giving workers the power to customize service based on the customer’s individual needs.
In-depth visibility of what your technicians are doing hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly prevents non-compliance, inconsistencies, and disappointed customers. It enables you to identify issues, prevent missed appointments, and spot gaps in service before they cost you customers.
Tangible Benefits of Mobile Workforce Visibility
Workforce visibility touches nearly every aspect of your business: customer retention, employee retention, customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, brand reputation, and more. With the right systems in place to give you a unified view of your workforce, you can realize benefits like:
- Business intelligence: Complete, accurate datasets can be used to make informed business decisions and monitor the impact of those choices over time. When data such as start and finish times, travel duration and distance, utilization, and services rendered are tracked consistently and centrally, business analysis becomes dramatically easier.
- Better resource planning: With true visibility into the skills and certifications your workforce possesses coupled with a clear understanding of the specific needs of your customers, managers have a unique opportunity to plan in a meaningful way. Understanding historical demand allows managers to staff and resource for the future efficiently and with far fewer headaches for this normally frustrating task.
- More efficient scheduling: With better visibility into the makeup and the activities of your workforce, you can better schedule employees to meet business needs, not just fill open time slots. For example, if your top priorities are efficiency and cost reduction, you can prioritize mobile workers who are closest to reduce travel, or most cost-effective to the job. If your priority is VIP customer retention, then you can schedule their favorite workers first, with proximity a secondary consideration. With visibility into your entire staff, you can make strategic scheduling decisions that drive revenue.
- Reduced cost of service: Regardless of whether your onsite service with customer is a primary revenue driver or not, managers need to keep costs down. The most effective ways to reduce costs are to cut travel time, increase utilization, and eliminate missed appointments. Mobile workforce visibility gives managers the ability to identify the most fruitful opportunities to reduce costs and keep teams on the go accountable to measurably reduce cost of service.
- Higher employee retention: Workforce visibility doesn’t just help leadership—it helps mobile workers, too. When everyone is accounted for and able to share information back and forth, workers feel more connected to their work and to each other. Giving workers real-time data about service history, customer background, and necessary equipment for each job allows them to be prepared to deliver high-quality, personalized service for each visit. This connectivity also allows employees to share concerns with management quickly and easily, making employees’ jobs easier.
- Stronger customer loyalty: When you know employees are in the right place, visiting the right customers, with everything they need to do the job, you can take your customer service to the next level. Assigning a mobile worker with a history of great interactions with a specific customer is just one action you can take to strengthen the relationship with your brand. Better visibility—and the tools that enable it—also reduce the time it takes to collect customer feedback. Customers can use automated surveys and feedback mechanisms to share how their appointment went, then managers can use that information to reward outstanding service or address recurring issues as quickly as possible.
Skedulo Helps Improve Workforce Visibility
Skedulo mobile workforce management software makes it easier to manage mobile workers and improve workforce visibility. Skedulo integrates to your primary system of record and streamlines scheduling jobs, completing onsite work, and communication between your schedulers and mobile workers.
Technicians use the Skedulo mobile app on their mobile devices to capture data onsite with customers, which is automatically synchronized with your CRM or other system, providing an accurate, real-time depiction of what is happening outside the office. Beautifully designed dashboards allow the back office to analyze data and gain insight into worker activities with the click of a mouse.
The Skedulo platform streamlines scheduling of mobile workers, provides precise service appointment times, and—with the assistance of its the Mastermind scheduling engine —makes it easy to pick out the best employee for the job based on your unique business goals.
To learn more, request a free demo today!