In part one of this post, we’ll briefly explain the challenges of managing your 3rd-party network. Then, in part two we’ll get prescriptive, offering you 5 useful tips for overcoming these challenges. If you choose to implement these best practices, you’ll be able to effectively leverage your 3rd-party contractor network and better serve your customers.
Part 1: The Challenges Associated with Managing 3rd-Party Contractors
The common issue that many service companies face is around compliance. Your 3rd-party contractors, by definition, are independent contractors, not full-time employees (FTEs). They run their own businesses, which offers you both benefits and challenges. With your FTEs, you can train them on your processes, monitor the quality of their service, incentivize them to improve, and hold them accountable in various ways (up to termination) when they don’t meet expectations.
With your 3rd party network, you have much less visibility into what they are doing at the customer’s home, and you don’t have data or tools to track/monitor their performance. Thus, you really can’t use incentives as effectively as with your FTEs to ensure accountability for sub-standard service delivery. In the absence of performance-related data about your 3rd party network, and with the resulting impossibility of incentivizing performance that you can’t even track, how can you ensure that your customers are getting the great service your brand demands?
The answer, of course, is that you can’t. You can’t improve or optimize a 3rd party contractor’s performance, which puts your quality and customer experience at risk. You can’t resolve customer problems that you don’t even know about. You can’t optimize processes and practices when you don’t have real-time data and communication regarding your 3rd-party network. So let’s explore solutions.
Part 2: Best Practices for Effectively Managing Your 3rd-Party Network
As any plumber will tell you, you need the right tools for the job. That’s also certainly true about managing your 3rd-party network. To do the job right, you need something that will help you connect in real-time to your 3rd party network, giving you visibility into performance data and how well each contractor is performing. Communication, relevant data, transparency, convenience for you, your contractor, and your customer…that’s what it’s all about.
5 practical tips for managing your 3rd-party network
Integration with a mobile app
To manage your 3rd party network, you need a simple application that is accessible anywhere, anytime, and over any device. The point is to seamlessly connect the three most important parties — home service enterprises, 3rd party contractors, and homeowners/customers.
We live in a digitally connected economy, where more and more services and customer experiences are delivered through digitally enabled experience. This solution is also the answer for home service too, especially in managing your 3rd party network.
Give your 3rd-party contractors an easy-to-use digital tool for greater productivity
Enterprises that leverage 3rd-party contractors yearn, for one thing, visibility into the performance of their entire network. However, the mere fact that they’re leveraging 3rd-party contractors makes it nearly impossible to manage this. UNLESS the enterprise is using a platform like Dispatch. The Dispatch mobile app is a simple, yet powerful application that allows any service provider to manage their own retail work and jobs/leads they receive from other sources. This enables them to deliver memorable customer experiences while streamlining their communication and status updates back to the enterprise. Having automatic status updates sent directly back to the enterprise saves 3rd-party contractors on average 3 hours a day.
Give homeowners an easy and convenient app-free experience
Whenever we tell people that we connect the enterprise, 3rd-party contractor, and homeowner together, the typical response we get back is, “So you make homeowners download an app?” If we tried to make homeowners download an app, we wouldn’t get anyone to do so – thus rendering the platform useless. So, to get around that, we offer an app-free experience for homeowners. Your customers will get a simple-to-use web-based link that enables them to go to their web browser and interact fully with the 3rd-party contractor. They can communicate, take photos, leave notes, and provide as much detail to the contractor as possible to make sure they’re informed and aware of their issue. As customer experiences go, it’s hard to make things easier, more convenient, and more accessible than this.
Give your 3rd-party contractor a single portal to manage all their lead/job sources as well as their retail work
All home service enterprises know the low compliance rates for 3rd party contractors. They know that getting status updates is tedious and ensuring betting compliance takes time.
Your 3rd-party network doesn’t access and reports their status via your portal because doing so is the very definition of inconvenience. They don’t want to log into four portals to update eight jobs. They’d rather be out in the field doing what they do best – fixing homeowner problems.
Dispatch allows contractors to provide status updates on all their jobs, automatically. No matter where that job source comes from, the status updates are automatically sent back to the enterprise, helping the contractor improve their compliance and reliability.
Get real-time performance feedback
Real-time performance data from your 3rd-party technician lets you solve the “command and control” problem discussed in part one, enabling you to work with contractors as if they were FTEs. The impact that a service logistics platform has on service quality is massive: When a 3rd-party contractor uses Dispatch, they deliver the following:
- 74% scheduling compliance
- 35% increase in NPS
- 86% reduction in no-shows
- 37% decrease in outbound call volume
The time of “flying blind” with your 3rd-party network is over. You can now have full visibility and collect data-driven insights to effectively manage your 3rd-party contractors as if they’re FTEs.