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Delivering on Quality Standards in the Home Service Industry

by Todd Stewart

Dispatch Insights

I recently attended my first International Franchise Association show in Phoenix and the one question I heard repeatedly from home service franchisors was: “How can we ensure that our franchisees are delivering our brand and quality standards on every single appointment?” Here are some answers:

 

Training Helps

Training is clearly one of the core areas that helps franchises understand the value of high quality, consistent service delivery. But as President Ronald Reagan said about agreements with the old Soviet Union, “trust, but verify.”  How can a franchisor train the franchises to understand the value of consistent, quality service delivery and verify that they’re actually delivering? One way is to implement a system-wide standard of work order management. This should be a system that has key functionality and high value for the franchisor, the franchisees, and their field service people, as well as the consumer of your services and products.

 

Have the Right KPIs and Monitor Them

To enable this, it helps if everyone involved is using the same platform and that platform has the processes and procedures built-in with easy to follow methods and checklists. You also need built-in key performance indicators (KPIs) on the core aspects of service quality. Such things as “On time arrival.” If your franchisee schedules to be at the customer’s home at 3PM, the franchisor needs to know when they actually show up.

 

Customer Experience Phones

 

Measuring “On time arrival” every time an appointment is made allows visibility into the consistency of your services system. If you are doing repair work, or other more technical services, what is the “first-time fix rate”? In other words, did the technician have to come back for a second or even a third visit to satisfy the customer? This KPI has a direct correlation to delivery costs, profit, and customer satisfaction.

If a job should take 90 minutes, and some service people take 3 hours, then either your estimates are incorrect (so your costs and your pricing is wrong) or the tech is doing something wrong (might be a training issue). If they do it in 45 minutes, maybe they have skipped key steps (or maybe found a legitimate shortcut, that can improve your processes). Measuring these KPIs are critical to brand consistency and improving service levels, decreasing service costs, and increasing customer satisfaction.

“Time on site” is another important KPI. If you have the ability to understand how long each type of job takes, you can measure how well your service network can meet these time forecasts. If a job should take 90 minutes, and some service people take 3 hours, then either your estimates are incorrect (so your costs and your pricing is wrong) or the tech is doing something wrong (might be a training issue). If they do it in 45 minutes, maybe they have skipped key steps (or maybe found a legitimate shortcut, that can improve your processes). Measuring these KPIs are critical to brand consistency and improving service levels, decreasing service costs, and increasing customer satisfaction.

 

Real-Time KPIs Drive Continuous Quality Improvement

But just collecting information is not enough. The platform you’re using needs to extract this information into actionable information in the form of real-time dashboards and analytical reports that offer you visibility into key areas for service improvement.

Collecting this information in the field must be automatic, part of the standard services process. Asking field techs to manually input information outside of the basic data they need to do their job never works, and never will.

You need granular detail down to an individual service tech, by location, by franchisee, by geography, types of service and other logical groupings so you can spot specific personnel problems or system-wide trends (both negative or positive).

Collecting this information in the field must be automatic, part of the standard services process. Asking field techs to manually input information outside of the basic data they need to do their job never works, and never will.

 

Dispatch

 

Benefits for Your Customers

Another key area for service franchisees is providing information to customers in real-time. The days of giving a time slot of Thursday between 1 and 5 are long gone and shows an insensitivity to the value of customers time (and customers will penalize you for it).

The customer should know within a small window of time when a tech is expected and then track exactly when they are going to show up at the door in real time. “I love to sit around waiting for a tech,” said no customer, ever. Also having a tech show up is such an intrusion on family life it borders on insulting. A mother who must run around with her kids when the doorbell rings or get control of the dogs is real life situations that put consumers in a bad mood, just as you start to deliver services. Knowing my tech is about to arrive in 5 minutes allows me to get ready to receive them the way the customer wants to. Also, when the tech is in route to my house, I’d like to tell them not to ring my doorbell but to knock, as the bell drives my 3 big dogs wild. I want to get those 3 dogs in the backyard right before the person arrives. This level of personalized communication matters and customers increasingly demand it.

“I love to sit around waiting for a tech,” said no customer, ever.

When a service person shows up, the customer has a much better comfort level if the tech has a mobile device that enables him to see work tasks, enter in information, maybe even show pictures. When they have a clipboard and carbon paper, customers immediately think “this isn’t 1974, and I hope this person knows what they’re doing.” Modern electronics helps create the image of a world-class, modern Company.

 

Immediate Follow-Up to Remedy Problems

Another key area is making it very easy for customers to give immediate feedback on the service call. Sending a survey a week later will usually get ignored and, if the customer is upset, not responding by trying to remedy the situation will only increase their negative feelings towards your brand. Also, just having a survey, even if it is immediate, doesn’t have value unless there are immediate follow-up actions when the customer is unhappy. Having the platform notify the franchisee and the franchisor in real time allows the brand to immediately correct the situation and turn 2 stars back to 5 and keep the customer.

In conclusion, today’s consumers are demanding: instant information and communication. They expect digitally-enabled “Uber”-like experiences for everything, including home services. So the question is: Are you going to be the next Amazon, Uber, AirBnb in your space or the next Myspace, Borders Books or Blockbuster, all of them gone because they embraced digital strategies far too late?

To learn more about Dispatch, schedule a demo.

 

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