Using Pull Systems to Optimise Work Flows in Call Centres

When call centres emerged towards the end of the 20th century, they deserved their name ?the sweatshops of the nineties?. A new brand of low-paid workers crammed into tiny cubicles to interact with consumers who were still trying to understand the system. Supervisors followed ?scientific management? principles aimed at maximising call-agent activity. When there was sudden surge in incoming calls, systems and customer care fell over.

The flow is nowadays in the opposite direction. Systems borrowed from manufacturing like Kanban, Pull, and Levelling are in place enabling a more customer-oriented approach. In this short article, our focus is on Pull Systems. We discuss what are they, and how they can make modern call centres even better for both sets of stakeholders.

Pull Systems from a Manufacturing Perspective

Manufacturing has traditionally been push-based. Sums are done, demand predicted, raw materials ordered and the machines turned on. Manufacturers send out representatives to obtain orders and push out stock. If the sums turn out wrong inventories rise, and stock holding costs increase. The consumer is on the receiving end again and the accountant is irritable all day long.

Just-in-time thinking has evolved a pull-based approach to manufacturing. This limits inventories to anticipated demand in the time it takes to manufacture more, plus a cushion as a trigger. When the cushion is gone, demand-pull spurs the factory into action. This approach brings us closer to only making what we can sell. The consumer benefits from a lower price and the accountant smiles again.

Are Pull Systems Possible in Dual Call Centres

There are many comments in the public domain regarding the practicality of using lean pull systems to regulate call centre workflow. Critics point to the practical impossibility of limiting the number of incoming callers. They believe a call centre must answer all inbound calls within a target period, or lose its clients to the competition.

In this world-view customers are often the losers. At peak times, operators can seem keen to shrug them off with canned answers. When things are quiet, they languidly explain things to keep their occupancy levels high. But this is not the end of the discussion, because modern call centres do more than just take inbound calls.

Using the Pull System Approach in Dual Call Centres

Most call centre support-desks originally focused are handling technical queries on behalf of a number of clients. When these clients? customers called in, their staff used operator?s guides to help them answer specific queries. Financial models?determined staffing levels and the number of ?man-hours? available daily. Using a manufacturing analogy, they used a push-approach to decide the amount of effort they were going to put out, and that is where they planted their standard.

Since these early 1990 days, advanced telephony on the internet has empowered call centres to provide additional remote services in any country with these networks. They have added sales and marketing to their business models, and increased their revenue through commissions. They have control over activity levels in this part of their business. They have the power to decide how many calls they are going to make, and within reason when they are going to make them.

This dichotomy of being passive regarding incoming traffic on the one hand, and having active control over outgoing calls on the other, opens up the possibility of a partly pull-based lean approach to call centre operation. In this model, a switching mechanism moves dual trained operators between call centre duties and marketing activities, as required by the volume of call centre traffic, thus making a pull system viable in dual call centres.

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Benefits of Integrating IoT and Field Service

Owing to the complexity of its definition, many people loosely use the phrase Internet of Things (IoT) without having a solid grasp of its true meaning. A majority in this category take IoT to be nothing more than the automation of home gadgets, where the internet is used to interconnect computing components embedded in everyday devices.

Granted, the whole idea of IoT got its roots from the home setting. Nevertheless, IoT has outgrown that spectrum and has since penetrated into almost every area of business and industry. By employing IoT, you can literally take full control of everything in your business using a single device. From assigning tasks to monitoring security, managing bills to tracking time, IoT has revolutionized the way business is done.

Interestingly, not so long ago, most technology experts limited their forecasts to machine-to-machine (M2M) integration and Augmented Reality (AR), which also, admittedly, hit the technology industry with an admirable suave. Back then, it could have been laughable for anyone to have suggested that IoT would be so commanding in almost every industry, including real estate, medicine, automobile, and more.

It’s not for nothing, therefore, that the field service industry has also embraced IoT, integrating it in the daily running of business activities, including tracking machine diagnostics, detecting breakdowns, and assigning field engineers to attend to customer needs.

How the Field Service Industry is Benefiting from IoT

Machine uptime has remained an ongoing concern for many customers. In the traditional approach, whenever a machine breaks down, the customer alerts the service provider and then the field service manager checks to see if there is any field engineer available for a new task. Once an engineer has been identified, he?s then dispatched to the site. This worked, but it resulted in an extended machine downtime, a terrible experience for customers.

Thanks to IoT, things are now happening differently.

IoT is now integrating machines to a central communications centre, where all alerts and status updates are sent. The notifications are instant. The field service manager, therefore, gets to learn of the status of machines at the exact time of status change. An engineer who?s not engaged would then be immediately assigned to undertake any needed servicing or repair.

By employing IoT, the service provider receives timely reports relating to diagnostics, machine uptime, part failures, and more. The field manager can, as a result, foretell and forestall any possible downtime.

How has this been helpful?

Before giving a definite answer to that question, it’s crucial to note that more than half of all field service organizations now employ IoT in their Asset Management Systems and Field Service Management. And to answer the question, all the organizations that have the two systems integrated using IoT experience twice as much efficiency as those that don’t, states an Aberdeen Group report. As you already know, improved efficiency results in a corresponding upshot in customer satisfaction.

Apps Making a Difference in IoT-Field Service

The integration of IoT into almost every aspect of business prompted the design and development of different applications to link computing devices. Since the advent of IoT, the software development for the technology has come of age. Powerful and lightweight apps that don simple yet beautiful user interfaces are now readily available at affordable price tags.

A good example of such an App is ecoVaro by Denizon.

ecoVaro not only helps businesses to monitor energy and other relevant environmental data such as Electricity, Gas, Water, Oil, Carbon, Temperature, Humidity, Solar Power, and more, but also provides analytics and comprehensive yet easy to understand reports. The data received from devices such as meters is converted into useful information that’s then presented in figures and graphs, thus allowing you to make decisions based on laid down controls.

The focus of the app is to instantly alert service engineers to go on site to fix issues.

With ecoVaro, field service engineers no longer have to return to the office to get new instructions. Also, customers don’t have to manually fire alerts to the service provider whenever something isn’t working correctly. By employing the latest in IoT, ecoVaro sends notifications to field service managers and engineers about respective customers that need support.

How ecoVaro Helps

Best-in-class companies aren’t ready to compromise on customer satisfaction. Therefore, every available avenue is used to address customer concerns with the deserved agility. By using IoT, ecoVaro makes it possible for field service providers to foresee and foreclose any possible breakdowns.

The inter-connectivity among the devices and the central communications centre results in increased revenue and improved interactivity between the system and the field engineers. This results in greater efficiency and lower downtime, which translates into improved productivity, accountability, and customer satisfaction, as well as creating a platform for a possible expansion of your customer base.

ecoVaro isn’t just about failed machines and fixes. It also provides diagnostics about connected systems and devices. With this, the diagnostics centre receives system reports in a timely manner, allowing for ease of planning and despatch of field officers where necessary.

Clearly, but using the right application, IoT can transform your business into an excellently performing field service company.

How FieldElite helps Electricians

The need to hire an electrician arises more often than we expect. It’s quite common to come across problems with structure-wiring, whether at home or in your business premises. It’s, therefore, not surprising to come across a home or a business owner in search of electrical services.

Whether a startup or a fully-fledged business that offers electrical services, there are challenges that come with running the venture. Where you have field service electricians, the challenges are even compounded, more so on matters of assigning tasks, receiving complaints from customers, and receiving field service reports.

As we all know, an electrical business isn’t just limited to the management of field service electricians. You’ll have to manage all the processes, a responsibility that can be quite daunting.

It doesn’t have to be difficult, though. You can take advantage of a field service management software program to make the entire management process effortless.

FieldElite is one such software. With FieldElite, you can assign tasks, communicate, and receive reports from your electricians on the go. Incorporating field service management in your electrical business enables you to run your business operations smoothly. 

Below are some of the benefits of using FieldElite field service management software. 

Increased Efficiency

Improved efficiency is the number one benefit electricians can get from field service management software. With FieldElite, electricians can accept jobs while in the field and add attachments together with client signatures using their smartphones or tablets. From the field management software, they can get information on the optimal route to the site, the tools required for the job, the service history of the customer, and contractual commitments.

Managing and scheduling tasks on FieldElite are just a few clicks away for office-based operators. That means reduced travel times and delays that often cripple workforce management.

Improved Professionalism

FieldElite field management software gives you a professional edge over your competitors. With this field management software, you can store all your business-related information in a central place. Therefore, each of your electricians can access the data from anywhere using their smartphone or tablet installed with the FieldElite mobile application. As such, there?s no breach in communication, and that means the electricians will get the scheduled tasks on time. Building such relationships with your team in the field encourages teamwork and motivates each team member to play their part. Again, since you can monitor what’s going on in the field, you can address the issues raised by your electricians or customers as soon as possible. 

Effective Communication

Timely communication is very essential if you’re working with field technicians. Since you’ll not always be with them in the field, it’s always important to establish a proper communication channel to ensure information reaches them in time. With FieldElite field service management software, electricians receive notifications and details about tasks assigned to them via the FieldElite mobile app.

On the other hand, office-based staff can access the report with the details of the job once the electrician completes the given task. This implies that both the electricians and the office-based operators can get communication instantly, enabling them to see and manage their workloads. Individual electricians can close jobs on-site and proceed to the next task without having to do paperwork reporting. For this reason, electricians can complete multiple tasks within a short time, which improves their overall productivity.

High Accuracy

With FieldElite field service management software, missing data or incomplete information is a thing of the past. Electricians no longer have to deal with paperwork, which can be daunting and time-consuming, yet with a million and one errors. With FieldElite advanced mobile features, all field service processes and operations are automated. The electricians are left with quite little to do, and that minimises data entry errors.

Because the managers get real-time updates from the field techs, they can accurately maintain and track the field processes. With FieldElite mobile features, managers can get information regarding the job status, the actual time of arrival, and the time taken to complete the task. With such updates, the electricians are better placed to do the job well without wasting much time, thus improving their overall productivity. 

Improved Co-ordination With The Team 

Apart from improving the productivity of the electricians, FieldElite improves coordination with the entire management team. For instance, an electrician can be assigned new tasks within the same area where they’re currently assigned instead of sending another to complete a task in that same place. FieldElite makes this possible by always capturing the current location and job status.

Whenever a new request is made in an area, FieldElite first checks the database to confirm if there is an electrician already assigned in that area. If the status of the ongoing assignment is complete or almost complete and the new task request can wait for the remaining time, the electrician in the field would be assigned the new task. By doing so, the business saves on cost and time and minimises movements. 

Improved Customer Satisfaction

As an electrician, you’ll only be satisfied if the service you offer makes the customer happy. Apart from fixing their wiring problems, they?d be happy if you responded quickly to their request. This is only made possible with field service management software. With FieldElite, managers can notify the electricians on the service requests in their respective areas, allowing them to respond to the call within a very short time. Not only does this give you some level of satisfaction as the business owner but it’s also a win for the company. 

Make your field work-flow better with FieldElite, and improve the productivity of your electricians. With FieldElite releasing regular and timely updates, users aren’t left behind whenever there are changes in the field service industry. The updates introduce new features and capture new standards to ensure that you get the best experience with the software at all times.

Operational Reviews

IT OPERATIONAL REVIEWS DEFINED
An IT operational review is an in-depth and objective review of an entire organisation or a specific segment of that organisation. It can be used to identify and address existing concerns within your company such as communication issues between departments, problems with customer relations, operating procedures, lack of profitability issues, and other factors that affect the stability of the business.
Operational reviews allow the organisation members to evaluate how well they are performing, given that they perform appropriately according to the procedures set by them, allocating their resources properly, and performing such tasks within time frame set and using cost-effective measures. More importantly, it also shows your company how well it is prepared to meet future challenges.
Simply put, the goals of an operational review are to increase revenue, improve market share, and reduce cost.

THE BENEFITS OF AN IT OPERATIONAL REVIEW
The main objective of IT operational reviews is to help organisations like yours learn how to deal with and address issues, instead of simply reacting to the challenges brought about by growth and change.
In such review, the information provided is practical from both a financial and operational perspective. Using these data, the management can then come up with recommendations, which are not only realistic, but more importantly, can help the organisation achieve its goals. The review recognises the extent to which your internal controls actually work, and enables you to identify and understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

To be more specific, let’s list down the ways wherein an effective operational review can contribute to the success of the organisation.

The review process can:
– assess compliance within your own organisational objectives, policies and procedures;
– evaluate specific company operations independently and objectively;
– give an impartial assessment regarding the effectiveness of an organisation’s control systems;
– identify the appropriate standards for quantifying achievement of organisational objectives;
– evaluate the reliability and value of the company?s management data and reports;
– pinpoint problem areas and their underlying causes;
– give rise to opportunities that may increase profit, augment revenue, and reduce costs without sacrificing the quality of the product or service.
Thus, each operational review conducted is unique, and can be holistic or specific to the activities of one department.

Our Operational Efficiencies cover the entire spectrum:

  • What to buy
  • Optimising what you’ve already bought e.g. underutilised servers, duplicate processes, poorly managed bandwidths
  • Making your team comfortable with the changes
  • Instilling Best Practices

UNCOVER WAYS TO DRIVE YOUR PROFITS UP, THROUGH OPERATIONAL REVIEWS

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