Mark Menhennet, Managing Director of telephone answering solutions provider Answer4u, explains how effective external management of call-outs can put you ahead of the competition while addressing the issue of an increasingly mobile workforce…
With the latest official statistics indicating that the UK now has record numbers of home workers, more employers than ever – and across a wider range of sectors – are facing the challenge of co-ordinating an increasingly mobile workforce.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that over 3 million people – that’s almost nine per cent of those in work – now use their home as a base but work in different places. More than a quarter of those are skilled tradespeople and no doubt many will be providing a call-out service for businesses.
Put that increasing trend for working from home together with customers who are becoming more demanding in a crisis and you have double the pressure on companies to find ways of efficiently deploying their mobile workers at a moment’s notice.
At its heart, a call-out service is a guarantee to your customers that they will receive a rapid and professional service in an emergency. In order to deliver, you need to be accessible and responsive and have the right support available.
This is challenging enough at the best of times and predicting urgent demand is naturally difficult, but the changing labour market is adding an extra complication.
The Operational Challenge
At Answer4u our telephone call-out solution service is increasingly being requested by facilities management companies plus construction and housing support agencies. These sectors are amongst those experiencing an increase in home working due to the nature of the roles they cover. They are also seeing more construction workers, carpenters and joiners who are self-employed.
Self-employment in the UK continues to rise year on year and the skilled trades occupations have the highest number of self-employed workers. So the increasing need to take on independent contractors adds yet another layer to the intricacies of on-call management.
People who are self-employed often have a different and more fluid relationship with employers; while an employee has committed to a single company for a period of time, independent contractors will normally be offered mobile work by multiple clients. In the same way that you want good staff, contractors will want to work for a company that runs an efficient and equitable workforce management system for allocating work.
Having external support in managing call-outs ensures that all your team members, regardless of their employment status, are utilised in the best way, with no opportunity for individuals to cherry-pick jobs or avoid certain types of work.
With multiple field staff on-call, it can be difficult to keep track of demand and to plan ahead for the right capacity. If you’re using independent field service contractors who charge by the hour or by the job, it’s even more crucial that you monitor activity to make sure you only pay for completed work.
The Customer Service Challenge
Effectively managing call-outs isn’t just an operational issue, it’s also crucial for your reputation, as customers want a quick and guaranteed response regardless of the time of day or the type and size of your business.
When your customers are asking for a call-out, the chances are that something has gone wrong; they will be stressed, and they want someone to help as soon as possible in real time.
Having your call-out requests answered – and actioned – professionally and efficiently will go a long way towards giving your customers peace of mind. Let your internal issues affect your service and you’ll lose customers. This makes it crucial for your business continuity to be second to none – you simply can’t afford to have a crisis of your own.
With teams based remotely it’s vital that companies’ communications keep on functioning at all times. This can be difficult, particularly for smaller firms trying to handle their 24-hour call-out process in-house, as office staff can easily become an issue due to illness or situations such as bad weather preventing your team getting to work.
Companies that use an external telephone call-out service have the reassurance of knowing that if anything untoward happens at their base the business won’t grind to a halt.
How a Call-Out Support Service Can Help
Anyone offering call-outs – whether it’s a small business providing IT support or a large national company offering breakdown cover – would benefit from telephone call-out support services. At Answer4u our current contracts range in size from a single on-call individual all the way up to nationwide companies with hundreds of engineers.
To support both your operations and customer care, we have a streamlined and efficient process that not only gives callers a great experience when contacting your company, but also eliminates time wasters and non-priority late night calls.
Our 24-hour service means we are there round the clock so your customers will never be answered by a voicemail out of hours. Even if you’re not available to respond until the next day, they will have had the reassurance that someone is dealing with their call.
Where we are given a database of customers we can also take their account number or company name and locate them in your system, allowing us to create a top class, personalised service.
To help you manage a remote and flexible workforce, we make it easy for you to change who we call and in what order, whether that’s on a weekly basis or a last minute switch. And our escalation processes mean that if we don’t get a response from your named staff member, we won’t just leave it and hope for the best, we’ll use a follow-up procedure agreed with you until we have successfully made contact with them or your nominated second responder.
Your staff can also use our service to report back issues or problems that you need to be aware of. We can formally log any incidents and escalate them as appropriate. This means that your on-call managers will only be disturbed at night when they really need to be, and your staff in the field will have the support they need.
Answer4u can provide management software reporting statistics on anything from an hourly to a monthly basis with details including call outcomes, giving you the reassurance that your call-out function is operating properly even when you and your team aren’t around to keep an eye on things. We can even supply a full escalation audit trail to highlight your staff’s performance.
Don’t Get Left Behind
Gone are the days when your team was all based in the same place and you just had to pop your head around the door to ask someone to go out on a visit. With more home workers and an increasing demand for 24-hour coverage, managing call-outs is becoming a pressing issue for companies of all shapes and sizes.
The game has changed – don’t let the competition steal a march on you and take your customers; an external company with years of experience can take the hassle out of your on-call management.
Deploying a Fast and Efficient Call-out Service Is Paramount to Maintaining Your Customer Service Goals
To find out more about Answer4u’s 24-hour Telephone Answering Call-Out Service call us today on 0800 822 3344, fill in our online enquiry form below or email [email protected] to discuss how our proven solution can help your business.