“We received a complaint from the customer because their expectations were not met. Do you want to go over together how we can better address the customer’s needs for next time?” If this sounds familiar, then you probably have encountered a customer who made it a point to leave a bad review. Truth is, one bad review can be a catalyst for catastrophe or change – depending on how you view and react to them. Such is the challenge of every field service operator on a daily basis. Being in the frontline and facing different customers everyday, one can argue that getting those scathing reviews is part of the job–or should they?
There is always a delicate balance to be maintained between overbooking and underbooking, especially when dealing with perishable inventory, such as hotel rooms, air tickets, or customer appointments, which come with an "expiration date." With underbooking, you leave money on the table, underutilize your assets and resources, and face underperformance challenges. On the other hand, overbooking allows you to account for cancellations and no-shows while optimizing asset and resource utilization, but it carries the risk of failing to deliver on service commitments. In this blog, we aim to help companies optimize their costs and resources while improving their top-line revenues.
2023 statistical data says 49% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendation and 94% say reviews have made them avoid a business. Moreover, one negative review requires roughly 40 positive reviews to outweigh the damage. So imagine walking late for a technician appointment because your last job went overtime–you’d be sure to read about it on the company website. Or imagine a phone call you need to make to a customer who got double-booked–how would that conversation go?
There are several strategies you can implement to avoid being in these uncomfortable situations. First is, eliminating the pain of manual scheduling – where you intelligently assign tasks to technicians based on their location, availability, and other business policies. Second is…
Say No to Overbookings
At Zinier, we put great emphasis on reducing appointment overbookings because it is essential for ensuring efficient operations and delivering a positive customer experience. Here are two powerful strategies, in our experience, that will help you minimize overbookings:
Implement Appointment Scheduling Software
Invest in robust appointment scheduling software that can help you manage appointments, assign technicians, and avoid scheduling conflicts. Most modern scheduling tools will already include features like real-time availability checks and automated reminders, both can do wonders for both your service technicians and your customers.
- Real-Time Availability Checks
Ensure that your scheduling software has real-time access to technician availability and workload. This prevents double-booking by instantly displaying available time slots when scheduling appointments.
- Set Clear Scheduling Rules
Establish clear rules and guidelines for appointment scheduling. Define the maximum number of appointments a technician can handle in a day and the travel time required between appointments.
- Buffer Time Between Appointments
Add buffer time between appointments to account for travel, unexpected delays, or extended service times. Buffer time can help prevent technicians from running late or overlapping with other appointments.
- Use Geographic Routing
Implement geographic routing and scheduling tools to optimize technician routes. This minimizes travel time between appointments and reduces the risk of overbooking due to scheduling conflicts.
Empower Technicians with Mobile Mobile Devices and Apps
Connectivity to your field operators is everything. That is why providing technicians with mobile devices or apps that allow them to update their schedules in real-time, mark appointments as completed, and communicate with the scheduling team is of top-most consideration. This helps keep everyone informed and up-to-date–and when everyone is in the loop, there are no miscommunications and lesser customer dissatisfaction.
- Implement Confirmation and Reminders
Send appointment confirmation emails or text messages to customers once an appointment is scheduled. Additionally, send reminders a day or two before the appointment to confirm the time and date, reducing the likelihood of no-shows.
- Offer Flexible Scheduling Options
Allow customers to choose from a range of appointment slots, including evenings and weekends, to accommodate their availability. This can help distribute appointment demand more evenly.
- Implement a Cancellation and Rescheduling Policy
Clearly establish the window at which a customer can still cancel on a technician then make sure that each cancellation flows directly to the technician’s mobile device so they are the first ones that get notified. Also, ensure that cancelled slots are promptly made available for other customers, reducing gaps in the schedule and maximizing the technician’s time for possible reroutes.
- Monitor Technician Workloads
Keep an eye on individual technician workloads to prevent overloading any specific team members. Balance the distribution of appointments among your technicians to ensure fair and efficient scheduling. Also consider the distance at which they travel from one customer to another and that should be built into the schedule window.
- Customer Communication
Maintain open and transparent communication with customers. In case of scheduling conflicts or delays, notify customers as early as possible and work with them to find suitable alternatives. Set proper expectations as to how long the work may take or how soon a follow up appointment is needed.
By implementing these strategies and continuously improving your appointment scheduling practices, you can enhance the efficiency of your field services while delivering a better customer experience. Of course, having a partner like Zinier makes these all possible and easier to put into action. With our Recommendation Center, you can gain intelligent scheduling recommendations that can help you manage exceptions in the field. More importantly, it keeps the bad reviews at bay.
So if you want a robust, effective workflow to manage your field operations, let’s talk!