Challenges In Presenting A Brand And Its Contractor Base As One

With distributors and manufacturers putting an ever-growing emphasis on value-added services, and the use of third parties to provide those services, how do companies keep them and end users on the same page?

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Stephen TimmsIn today’s competitive environment, service organizations can no longer compete on price or product alone. Instead, they must work toward providing an exceptional experience.

As market trends change, we know that many, if not most, service firms rely on third party contractors for service flexibility and cost considerations. But therein lies the challenge – how do you deliver a seamless experience worthy of your brand’s name while using contractors? Third-party contractors’ performance while on a service call is just as important in maintaining and improving the business brand as marketing itself. You must empower ALL field technicians, whether employees or contractors, to be your frontline brand ambassadors.

Managing any workforce, especially a third party workforce, provides anxiety for service executives. How do you maintain quality? Will service suffer as a result of using contractors? Will you lose visibility into the service experience? ClickSoftware conducted a study of 200 mid-level and senior executives within departments that deal with third-party contracting which confirmed the more often contractors get used, the more likely customers report poor performance.  The study also confirms third-party contractors are being used more and more each year. The correlation between poor service and these third-party contractors creates a fairly severe red flag for any company looking to increase its use of contracted services. The majority of complaints about contractors in the past six months — 66 percent — dealt with scheduling issues. One third of the complaints emerge from a contractor arriving late. It’s not just late arrivals, but also early arrivals that caused delays, return visits and missed appointments. While brands realize this is an issue, almost half of contractor managers do not consistently measure scheduling as part of the performance of the contractor.

The costs triggered by poor performing contractors are rising year over year according to those surveyed and is impacting the bottom line for many businesses.  Missed appointments lead to return or repeat visits, increasing costs and frustrating the customer. Dissatisfaction most often arises from inconsistent scheduling and a lack of communication on the part of the contractor, but failures on both ends of the transaction contribute to the shortcomings:

  • 89 percent of contractor managers agree that contractors and subcontractors should be more transparent and communicative in order for the general business to succeed
  • A significant percentage of contractor managers say they don’t consistently measure on-time arrivals, customer feedback/satisfaction and time spent to complete jobs.

The good news is, these mishaps are correctable when we begin to investigate, “Why?” The survey found 87 percent of contract managers agree there would be fewer customer complaints if there was a solution that kept both the contractors and subcontractors better informed; 84 percent wish there was a tool that helped monitor contractors/subcontractors with:

  • Real time visibility into the workforce: Visibility into the service team is beneficial to the customer as well as service management. Ensuring customers are informed during the service cycle goes a long way in exceeding customer expectation and keeping satisfaction high.
  • Automated dispatching capabilities: The ability for the service organization to schedule an appointment in a service window that is convenient, dispatch and route a contracted technician to a customer and ensure that this technician arrives at a customer site on time with the skills necessary to resolve the issue is still a major determinant of success for service.
  • Integrating mobility tools and technology: A clipboard in the hands of technicians or a whiteboard in the dispatch office no longer makes the grade in a fast moving service operation. Customers expect that the conversation / interaction they had with a service agent over the phone will not need to be repeated once a technician shows up on site. Everything must be integrated and real time.
  • Taking charge of quality control: Customers expect the same level of service from the organization, regardless of who provides that service. To succeed, customers need the same experience from a contractor as they would from the business.

Outsourcing work to third-party service contractors doesn’t mean enterprise service providers have to lose visibility of their work orders. By deploying robust, open, and integrated mobile workforce management solutions that can be accessed on a range of mobile devices, these companies can gain real-time visibility of contractor assignments. By improving visibility up and down the service chain, service companies can reap the financial and other benefits of outsourcing, while still maintaining their brand value and empowering both internal employees and contractors to master the moment for superior customer experiences before, during, and after the day of service.

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