By Tom Paquin
Telecommunications companies across the board are in a bit of a crunch. For cellular companies, new technologies have converged with decreased barriers to entry, creating a harrowing landscape. On the other end, speedy wireless connections and shifting consumer behavior are changing the ways that people interact with cable and satellite companies as well. As more and more companies develop streaming solutions (in spite of my dubious assessment), that crunch will accelerate, presenting challenges and opportunities.
These pressures call for telecommunications companies to start thinking about their businesses differently. Naturally, many companies use this inflection point as an opportunity to refocus their businesses on the service experience. Are we surprised that I am making the case for service? If so, you likely are new to this website.
The march towards service requires careful consideration of the levers of business in telecommunications companies, and we’ve explored that through a variety of avenues in the past. Today let’s go a step further by looking at some specific technologies that can support the delivery of service—when done right. While backoffice service software is key to originating appointments and coordinating schedules, telco service, by its very nature, happens primarily through field operations. Field workers can certainly deliver fine service with half-baked or disconnected utilities, or just a box of tools, but these roles are improved exponentially by robust, complex mobile toolsets.
Mobile field service is by no means a new concept (I’d argue it’s one of the most mature elements of service software), which makes it easy to write off. Solutions age, technologies don’t keep up with the demands of the business, and it’s useful to benchmark your solutions every few years.
For telecommunications professionals, there are a few unique considerations that are important when reviewing your mobile service solutions. Here are some things to keep in mind:
The Backoffice and Field: One Platform in Harmony
This has been my refrain now for early five years of writing about service, but everything that your technicians have at their workstation should also be in their pockets (“Even their stapler?” some smart aleck might ask to which I say that it depends on the type of pockets). This means full schedules for themselves in their colleagues, full access to parts systems, full access to resource libraries, full marketing, customer experience, and appointment logging capabilities.
I do understand the challenge, especially among telco professionals to stop what they’re doing in order to take advantage of their mobile tools, but that is exactly why it’s important that they can access everything—and access it well—on mobile. It’s also an opportunity to enhance your mobile applications with mobile-specific elements, to make mobile a truly better-than-desktop experience.
Contingent and Salaried Labor Need to Be Brought Together
Telecommunications professionals have the added challenge of asymmetrical asset repairs, different technical fleets, and B2B and B2C sitting, under many circumstances alongside one another. For those reasons, the need to lean on contingent labor, or even just different technical pools for different types of jobs, becomes necessary. It’s easy, then for parts inventory, schedules, and resources to be siloed.
I’m not arguing that you blow down the walls of those silos, of course. That has the potential of causing anarchy for your business. However, for businesses to work effectively, field workers and backoffice, whether they’re working for you, or contracted, working in a customer’s home or on a radio tower, should be working in systems that are at the very least integrated. The future of enterprise management means that service, project, and asset management across the whole of your business should be coordinated by a unified set of applications.
Building a Field-Oriented Mindset
The last piece of this is the most complex, and requires us to step outside of the solutions themselves to the way that those tools interact with your business. Take parts management as an example. In a world that lacks field orientation, parts live in depots and warehouses. In a field-oriented world, parts live in transit, on technician vehicles, and across a wide array of channels and endpoints. Fully optimizing for mobile means tracking and coordinating all of these sometimes disparate touchpoints into a coherent strategy.
Telecommunications has long embraced the importance of service, but to take their service to the next level, it’s time to reevaluate the technologies in the hands of your employees. This means auditing not just your tools, but your whole mindset around service management. Field technicians beat at the heart of the connected telco business. Don’t leave them without the tools that they need to succeed.