How field service management software can improve customer experience and support retention among broadband operators
It seems you only have to walk, or drive, along a few streets, before encountering teams of people in high-vis safety workwear, liveried vans, standing by excavated roads and pavements, complete with temporary traffic lights – the hallmarks of a broadband rollout. That’s hardly surprising, now that installation rates to deliver gigabit-capable broadband are the highest they have been.
In September 2022, the UK Government confirmed gigabit-capable broadband has reached just over half of UK households, with the UK on track for one of the fastest rollouts in Europe. Today, 65% of premises can access gigabit-capable networks, up from just one in 10 in November 2019. By 2025 the Government is targeting a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage, instead of the previous target of nationwide delivery by 2025.
Disruption is to be expected, of course. After all, it is a temporary price to pay for having gigabit- capable broadband, a technology agnostic term that includes full-fibre/FTTC as well as other technologies. On any given month tens of thousands of properties are being connected across the UK, delivered by large regional operators, smaller, localised providers and their various subcontractors.
Installations consist of several stages, some of which entail direct interaction with customers. The initial stage comprises street-level works, which involves digging up some parts of the road or pavement to run fibreoptic cabling through existing pipes or ducts under the road or pavement. Following this work, engineers arrive at each home or premises, always with an ID and wearing protective gear. They will advise the best route for internal cabling and best position for equipment such as WiFi routers.
The engineer will drill a small, unobtrusive hole into the building to bring in the cable and also wall mount fibre sockers, modems and other equipment. The engineer will test speeds through a fixed connection and through WiFi and will connect up some initial devices and providing usernames and passwords. It is always good practice for engineers to clear up any dust or mess produced by their work, before leaving.
Digitalise installations right down to the premise-level
By digitising rollouts using field service management (FSM) software for broadband, operators and providers can keep track of installations down to the premise level, storing details such as premise addresses and post codes, dates of installations. These tools also log when engineers complete installations and stores this information in one central place in the cloud. Customers benefit as installations are more likely to run smoothly and on time, based upon such well-ordered data.
Broadband operators/providers can potentially share all, or partial, information from the digital record-keeping of installation campaigns to support any mapping and tracking rollout progress in different regions and areas, helping to deliver an efficient and cost-effective rollout, especially in rural areas where rollouts can be more challenging to do.
Digitalising record-keeping also helps ensure compliance with the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Act 2021, which is intended to ease access to blocks of flats and apartments in circumstances where there is a non-responsive landowner, in order to support the roughly 10 million people in multi-dwelling buildings to get access to better broadband.
Optimise tasks and hit targets
Implementing a cloud-based FSM solution ensures providers of broadband infrastructure and their contractors can optimise all tasks, jobs and related logistical activities that are performed by engineers and field operatives. Deploying FSM tools can support broadband infrastructure installers and contractors in meeting key performance indicators (KPIs) that are in place to ensure they deliver on targets concerning coverage, customer experience as well as those concerning customer retention.
Intuitive FSM enables happier technicians leading to satisfied customers
From the perspective of engineers on the ground, FSM software is designed to be user-friendly and highly intuitive, via a simple app downloaded onto their smartphone or other mobile device. It makes their life easier, enabling them to provide a better service, especially in the customer-facing elements of their role.
Superior scheduling tools keep rollouts on track
With many providers intending to install broadband at many thousands of customer premises every month, time is of the essence. FSM software enables managers and dispatch staff to organise the schedules of each engineer in their team, whether a day or a week in advance, based on the availability of each team member. Features also allow the selection of personnel for jobs by qualification and seniority. This superior degree of organisation means rollouts run smoothly even when changes need to be made last minute, ensuring that customers are not let down. FSM software deploys powerful navigational tools by processing various data sources, including maps and traffic information, to optimise routes for each engineer between sites, minimising time spent travelling to different locations and saving on fuel/energy, making sure they are where they need to be and are not running late to premises where they are scheduled to be connecting customers.
Real-time monitoring of fleets means emergency callouts are quickly addressed
A challenge for managers of engineer fleets and field operatives can be keeping track of where each team member is and their progress in completing jobs. At a glance, managers of field service teams can see where each member is located on a map in real-
time using FSM software. The software allows managers to monitor the progress of work orders or tasks, for example, by notifying them when each job is completed and by indicating how long tasks are taking to progress and complete.
In events of faults or repairs that require addressing, FSM tools enable managers to identify which field service team member can arrive at the customer’s site in the least time, as soon as the issue is called in or logged.
Keep customers informed and enhance customer satisfaction
With the UK Government aiming to facilitate a competitive market that delivers value for money for customers as the UK switches to gigabit-capable broadband, the pressure is on to ensure that operators and subcontractors deliver on installation targets, provide responsive maintenance and repair services, while maintaining exceptional levels of customer service, all crucial to ensuring customer retention.
With field service management (FSM) software for broadband, operators are significantly less like to miss objectives and KPIs.
Customers benefit from the organisational efficiencies that FSM solutions enable. When engineers are able to reach homes and premises more quickly and complete their jobs and tasks in a more time- efficient manner, this translates into satisfied customers.
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