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March 19, 2013

Telecoms Turn to Big Data to Keep Up with Housing Sales

By TMCnet Special Guest
Mark Duffin, group chief executive officer and president of ServicePower

Since the Great Recession, many industries have turned to leaner business models that promote efficiency and cost effectiveness. Telecommunication companies in particular were hurt by the crash of the housing market, cutting roughly 37,000 jobs in the United States in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With a workforce that still hasn’t fully recovered, telecom companies are facing a new challenge as the economy turns around and homes begin to sell more quickly: fielding an influx of service calls with fewer technicians.

Freddie Mac's U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook survey reports that home sales are expected to rise between two and five percent year over year. As the housing market continues to pick up speed, telecoms are seeing a drastic increase in customer calls for phone, cable/satellite and Internet service.

To keep up with the volume of calls, many telecom companies are turning to big data and analytics to optimize the scheduling and dispatch of technicians. They are also equipping their employees with sophisticated mobile platforms that improve response times and productivity.

By implementing field service management programs that move scheduling and dispatch to the cloud, telecom companies can cash in on the housing turnaround by getting existing employees to complete more jobs and extending their workforces by tapping into third-party contractor networks.  

Improve Customer Satisfaction

According to Gartner (News - Alert), utility and telecom companies have placed customer satisfaction as a primary objective for field service.  The Service Council’s research indicates that 53 percent of global services managers claim service as a “top priority” but 27 percent of those admit that they are “lacking in resources to manage it effectively.”

To reconcile these realities, many companies are using big data and analytics to optimize the scheduling and dispatch of employees and third-party contractors. Using cloud-based software that manages technician scheduling eliminates any human error that may occur in the scheduling process. The software keeps all employees and customer data updated in real time to ensure the latest information is available.

In addition, using GPS capabilities to monitor arrival times, telecom companies can ensure their newest customers receive their cable and Internet within the suggested time period, minimizing customer wait time. By using handheld devices to track work history and truck inventory, these technicians have the information they need to properly complete a job at their fingertips. Maintaining mobile records of each job ensures the proper information is up to date at all times.

As the housing market continues to rebound, these tools will enable telecom technicians to better service large volumes of service calls.

Effectively Manage a Growing Workforce

Using field service management solutions, telecom providers can schedule thousands of jobs through the cloud, securely send dispatch schedules to a field employee’s mobile device, and identify the fastest route to an address. They can also extend their W2 workforce by tapping into third-party contractor networks and using 1099 contract workers closest to a job to fill in the gaps during peak demand times.

Incorporating real-time communication in field technicians’ daily routine allows telecom companies to manage their employees properly. These tools tell whether a technician is certified to handle more complex cases, their distance from a service location, and whether their truck has the proper materials and products to fix a job on the first visit.

This information enables technicians to complete jobs more efficiently and allows telecom companies to better manage a large influx of calls in less time, increasing the number of jobs each technician can handle per day by almost 20 percent in some cases. Companies of all sizes, whether they’ve got five workers or 20,000, have seen first-time repair rates improve by 90 percent as they more quickly dispatch employees to fix major problems such as telephone switch failures. 

These tools help telecom companies monitor the use of their company-owned vehicles. Using GPS tracking, managers are able to see where company trucks are at all times, helping to manage the long-term wear and tear on their vehicles.

The key advantage of implementing a service management system is that it enables telecom companies to build a flexible, scalable workforce that can rapidly respond to changing demand. With the housing market on the verge of recovery, that will become critical if telecoms want to keep up with their customers on the move.

Mark Duffin joined ServicePower in November 2007 and is responsible for strategic direction, sales, operations, and development, together with finance, personnel, properties and MIS facilities. He executed a turnaround strategy for the company over the past 4 years which resulted in a corporate profit in 2010 and 2011.

 




Edited by Brooke Neuman
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