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Even if you work in a small field service business, you’re probably familiar with silos. If you have five employees but they focus on different functional areas of expertise, there’s a possibility that “silos” (in this case one person at a time) can crop up. The scheduling person focuses only on scheduling and doesn’t communicate well with the person who works with customer information. This breaks down internal communication and makes decisions less effective.
Much of this is backed up by research.
Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2002. He’s probably most famous as the author of a book called Thinking, Fast and Slow, although many consider him one of the fathers of behavioral economics. The idea behind behavioral economics is to turn traditional economics, which assumes rational decision-making, on its head. Behavioral economics observes people in real-life contexts and tries to see what they would do and the decisions they’d make.
This has a lot of implications for managing your field service business.
Kahneman recently gave an interview to Wharton business school. In the interview, he outlined a standard work situation. Let’s say the head of your field service organization (the CEO or President) has three to four people reporting under him. Those three to four people all work in the same organization and probably have similar levels of experience, since they rose to that role. While they might be responsible for different aspects of your business, they probably all understand the business model you use. So, if the CEO/President were to go to each one of them for input on a decision, the variability in what they say -- their ideas about the decision -- should be low. They are in similar-type positions in the same business, so why would they give drastically different answers to the same question about the business?
Kahneman has worked with many organizations, and he says that when he does this exercise, most people predict there will be 5-10% of variability in the answers of the three to four people reporting to the President. Except, that’s not actually what happens:
“Many people give the same [guess]: somewhere between 5% and 10%,” said Kahneman. “But the answer is between 40% and 60%. It’s an order of magnitude more. It’s completely different from what everybody expects.” He noted that at the organization in question, there was “a huge noise problem” of which the leaders were completely unaware.
So, there’s a potential for your leaders to be totally all over the map on decisions related to your business. There’s too much variability there.
Now we come to why field service management software and tools are crucial to your customer experience, and thus crucial to your business.
If you look at this story/example/exercise above, here’s what is happening. Each person that reports to your President/CEO has a different answer to the business question because he or she is thinking about it in terms of what he or she does. So maybe a scheduling person is looking at the problem one way, and then an inventory person is looking at it another way, and finally someone responsible for sales in your FSO is looking at the problem a third way.
This creates an inconsistent customer experience. If sales is approaching business issues in a different way than inventory is, then your customers are getting different experiences when they interact with different parts of your business. This is a “silo” problem in business, and it happens with information exchange too; sales think they are the most important part of a business, and they forget to share information with scheduling. Now a technician lacks the information they need for a client on-site.
Basically, you can have a field service business that ends up being a bunch of different businesses. Leaders are thinking about things differently, silos are holding information, etc. It’s not good for how your customers interact with you.
This is the problem that FSM software does a good job of solving. It integrates different aspects of your business -- so that people have access to the same information and context. It allows you to manage across silos and improves communication. It gets leaders on the same page about what’s important and what’s really going on.
We put together an entire eBook on the critical role of FSM in customer experience. You can download it now.
Written by Shloma Baum
Business Applications communities