For service organizations, service delivery in rural areas presents a host of challenges. Accessibility and first-time fix rate take on new meaning. Take, for example, a missing part in an urban area compared to the same missing part in a location that requires the technician to drive 200 kilometres or more. Here are the top three challenges for service delivery in rural areas:
Providing customer service while balancing the cost of delivering the service
Servicing urban customers versus rural customers presents vastly different cost scenarios for service organizations. As the above example indicates, delivering service to rural customers can be incredibly costly when you factor in gas and vehicle wear and tear, not to mention windshield time.
To minimize the cost of service delivery in rural areas, group service calls in one area according to pre-determined zones and set up a regular technician rotation from one zone to the next. The regular schedule will help your organization keep costs in check while ensuring that rural customers get reliable service visits that they can plan their days around.
Supporting the technician while he is offline
Another key challenge for service delivery in rural areas is spotty or downright absent connectivity. Out in the bush, for example, you have better luck finding a UFO versus a signal. Efficient schedules without connectivity are difficult to maintain – scheduling becomes less dynamic and can’t respond in real time.
Make sure the technician has all the details about the account, accurate customer information, and a clear diagnostic. If the technician has to make a phone call to the back office or the dispatcher, he or she will likely only have the option to use the customer’s landline (assuming they have one). Your organization may choose to invest in satellite phones for those technicians who regularly work outside of a signal range.
The third challenge service organizations face vis-à-vis service delivery in rural areas is ensuring the safety of technicians working beyond signal range. It’s difficult to know if someone gets hurt, and typically technicians have to help themselves in those situations.
Outfit all technicians working alone in rural areas with a panic button and ideally, a satellite phone. Another option is to always send two technicians to rural jobs – this enables your organization to get more work done and creates a buddy system should any emergencies arise.
Service delivery in rural areas definitely requires more planning than delivery done in urban areas. However, with a few minor tweaks to your existing system, your organization can provide the same level of high-quality service to its rural customers as it does to those in more populated locations.