One of those scary things about running a business is that most of the major problems you’ll face will start out as something small.
Trivial issues have a terrifying ability to quickly mutate into monsters with the power to take a bite-sized chunk out of your company.
It’s the kind of thing that happened in the case of NASA’s Mariner 1 space rocket in 1962. It was a single hyphen missing from a line of code that caused it to come crashing down.
But when you’re managing a team of mobile workers, that small problem is most likely to start out life as an innocent inquiry.
We’re going look at electronic job sheets compared to paper using this innocent inquiry as an example:
"No one's turned up to site. Where are they?"
Simple, right? The way you respond to this will determine whether or not this innocent inquiry is about to grow fangs.
Here’s a look at how mobile workforce management software can affect the outcome:
Traditional workforce management
If you’re using traditional management methods then a simple inquiry like this can create a whole world of pain. The basic problem is that you simply don’t know where your mobile worker is.
You know who they are, what they’re supposed to be doing and where they’re supposed to be but you don’t know the most crucial thing - where they are right now.
To find that out, you’re going to have to make mobile phone contact with the employee. If they don’t answer - highly likely as they’re driving - then you know no more info than the customer.
But that’s not a great thing to admit to so you’re liable to try and placate the customer with vague reassurances and guesstimates - which just makes matters worse.
The other temptation when confronted with an angry customer is to try and hastily fix the problem - maybe you’ll pull a driver from another job to see if they can cover for the AWOL employee.
And before you know it, things start to spiral downwards as everyone involved in the process becomes increasingly flustered and your neat schedule starts to sag and strain.
In the worst case scenario, it will end with a lost customer or client and the potential long term damage to your company’s reputation - a particular problem in a world of social media rants with angry customer feedback going the wrong sort of viral.
Mobile workforce management software
If you’re using a digital workforce management system then this kind of inquiry is super easy to handle. The system tracks the status and location of each of your mobile workers, in real time.
It means you’re always able to provide precise information - where the mobile worker is (even down to the street they’re currently on) and to accurately estimate how long it’s going to be.
By monitoring the progress of your mobile workers, you can also be proactive. Instead of waiting for a customer to make contact, one of your team can get in touch to let them know the employee is slightly late but on their way.
Or, you can let the customer keep track of what’s happening online. By setting up a customer portal, they can keep track of the job status.
However you choose to handle the inquiry, it’s likely to be a positive experience for the customer. They want accurate information and a reassurance that things are ok - and that’s what you provide them.