A recent survey of 200 business managers, responsible for mobile workers within UK organisations, revealed that sickness and absence is still the major issue affecting service delivery and the customer experience. Sickness ranked as the most common problem affecting service delivery (39%), followed by traffic congestion (37%) and unavailability of staff (36%).

With customer service often being a differentiator between competitors and key in retaining customers, it’s time organisations addressed the issues that lead to poor service and delivery. A key component of this is harnessing technology.

The role of technology

Technology can benefit an organisation in discreet areas such as giving directions to a field worker, tracking job completion, through to providing feedback on customer service. Not only does technology give an organisation real-time visibility it also provides the opportunity to replay shifts.

This is particularly useful when providing reactive service and can be used to identify inconsistencies and trends within a workforce. The information can then be tracked against industry KPIs for added context and can provide service leaders with a line of sight which is both broad and narrow; covering organisations, regions and teams, right down to individuals. This allows an organisation to be proactive against issues such as absenteeism, poor performance and a drop in engagement.

If technology is optimised, the data collected can be used to address and manage the issues that affect service delivery; sickness and staff unavailability. Below are a couple of real-life examples that organisations can quickly take advantage of.

  • Handheld devices carried by an employee can be used to capture real-time locations in the field, which automatically populate a pre-configured database. This data can be correlated with job and customer information to identify employees not turning up to scheduled jobs, but can also show customer visits that were not scheduled or recorded; suggesting personal jobs are being completed during company time.
  • Organisations may often find that during nice weather or events such as national sports there is a rise in absenteeism. Logging employee vehicle mileage at the start and end of each shift enables the results to be compared to see if there is an unexpected change overnight, or on a day that the employee has reported in sick.
  • For any job that is completed numerous data is collected and stored, from employee whereabouts, through to job completion time and customer satisfaction. We therefore suggest using modelling tools which can formulate this data in a meaningful way, often in a visualised format that is easy to read and act upon.

Technology: engaging the workforce

However, there is a wider issue that concerns engagement. The correlation between engagement and the impact it has on performance and resistance to change has long been proven; from psychology experiments through to our own research, which found employees are more likely to adopt a mobility solution if they are engaged in the change process.

Most people by nature want to do a good job, therefore it is the role of the company to create the desired corporate culture and set out its ethos in approach to service – this is the first step to employee engagement. The second step is integrating the approach through the organisation; this is where technology can help.

  • Monitoring feedback in real-time can ensure that issues are addressed immediately and are not left (to be forgotten). This can show how the actions of the workforce culminate in an increase or decrease in customer service, and in turn can be used to encourage preferred behaviours.
  • Access to expert knowledge (video/voice calls) and on the job training through technical manuals (on an employee’s handheld device) can provide feelings of empowerment, which in turn boost an employee’s engagement.
  • Nudging employees rather than shoving or pulling them in the right direction is a method widely used to successfully increase engagement. Technology can help here by electronically flagging to an employee how they are performing each day using a scoring method which re-enforces desired behaviours and outcomes and penalises negative results. Such an approach also encourages healthy competition between co-workers.

Technology once again allows service managers to not just address instances when they occur but actively manage situations and employees so that they don’t occur.