Employees take it for granted that the equipment they need will be available and working properly when they need it. But without efficient service request management, it’s easy to fall behind and accumulate a backlog of repairs.
Staying on top of service requests is not only important for productivity. It’s also essential for the health and safety of your workforce at a time when expectations for cleanliness have never been higher.
Here’s an overview of what a good service request process looks like and five steps you can take to improve yours.
Service request management fundamentals
Good service request management comes down to a few basic things:
- Giving employees an easy way to submit work orders
- Delegating tasks efficiently to your team
- Providing visibility to employees on the status of service requests
- Automating manual tasks and preventive maintenance
- Keeping a record of completed maintenance tasks
- Regularly reviewing your most common requests so you can address problems before they occur
For instance, an employee who reserves a conference room wants to know it has been properly sanitized before their meeting. They need to be able to request cleaning services and know they can expect a response within a reasonable time frame.
How to improve your service request process
Your facilities team should start by evaluating your current work order process and identifying any gaps or areas where there’s room for improvement. For instance:
- How do you assign service requests?
- Which members of your workforce are authorized to submit a request? Is management approval required?
- Once a work order is generated, does the requestor receive updates on progress and completion? If so, how is this information processed?
- Do you have a system in place to determine when equipment should be serviced again?
- How often are service tickets generated?
- Does your organization have a preventative maintenance plan in place?
- What system, if any, have you implemented to measure your team’s performance?
An optimized service request process doesn’t happen overnight. It stems from a deep understanding of the factors that affect your business, including the organization’s size, the relationships between service technicians and workforce, and the core nature of your business.
Follow these five steps to improve yours.
1. Implement facility maintenance software
Without facility maintenance software, it’s impossible to track and manage service requests. In other words, you have no service request process — just a pile of paper or emails.
The right software will make it easy for employees to submit both service requests and IT support tickets using a mobile app. You can set up a workflow to assign the request to the right person, whether they’re on the facilities management or IT team. The technician can see the location of the request within your floor plan so they don’t have to wonder which one of the 50 printers in your building needs a new cartridge.
They can get instructions on how to fix it right within your facility maintenance app.
And if you use asset management software, they can see when the last repair took place, when the warranty expires, and how much your company has spent repairing that particular piece of equipment in the past. Depending on the type of asset and how much it’s costing you, it might make more sense to replace it rather than continue to repair something that frequently breaks down.
Meanwhile, employees can easily see the status of their request.
2. Customize your service request system
Implementing the right software for service request management is half the battle. The other half requires evaluating your current processes and customizing your technology to support them.
For instance, you can set up your software so it pre-populates details and assigns requested tasks, based on the nature of the work order. If prior approval is required for service tickets, have a built-in feature set up that assigns a work order immediately when an emergency or safety request is submitted. Limit options to no more than 15 categories or groups with no more than four to six items/request types to choose from per group. By working the details beforehand, you can reduce downtime and save your employees the trouble of having to scroll through hundreds of options.
3. Automate tasks where possible
Many service requests are predictable. You know your team will need to perform certain tasks when new employees start, when you’re relocating a department to another floor, or when the changing seasons impact certain building systems. This is where automation can make your team more efficient.
For instance, you can use sensor integrations to trigger service requests after an employee has used a desk or a conference room.
Sensors can also alert you when restroom supplies are running low so you don’t have to wait for someone to tell your team you’re out of soap and toilet paper.
And you can set up standard tasks to assign to your team as you’re planning an office move so you don’t forget to address something.
4. Schedule preventive maintenance tasks
Regularly scheduled preventive maintenance helps alleviate reactive situations, which can cost your company anywhere from two to five times more than planned work.
It reduces equipment downtime, which can cost as much as $260,000 per hour, according to the Aberdeen Group. Those are just the direct costs. Waiting days to repair an important piece of equipment also results in lost productivity, strained customer relationships, and poor morale at your organization.
Facility maintenance software makes it easy to manage preventive maintenance. You can schedule PM tasks at certain time or usage intervals, based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.
This will streamline your service request management and help you determine its effectiveness over time. Careful data analysis sometimes reveals that it is more cost effective to operate equipment until it breaks down, preparing for corrective action or replacement, once breakdown occurs. The one variable that remains the same for businesses spanning every size and scope, is that those who ignore the advantages and profitability of a solid preventive maintenance plan will miss out on finding their true profit potential.
5. Use facility maintenance KPIs to optimize service request management
One of the most powerful tools built into your FM software is metrics and reporting. This is your opportunity to learn from past triumphs and downfalls, to take predictive measures, and to communicate this data across your organization. You have control over what reports are generated, how often they are generated, and who gains access to this information.
Before you set up facility maintenance dashboards, consider:
- Who will be running reports or viewing dashboards, and who will be able to view them?
- What types of reporting add the most value to your team?
- What level of detail do you want to see when reporting on service request activity?
- What key performance indicators (KPIs) will you use to measure the performance and health of your service request process?
Our clients have found success by including these common reports:
- Number of requests submitted by location, category, and priority
- Number of requests submitted by priority and affected unit
- Percentage of requests completed on time
- Number of requests re-assigned to a new technician, and why?
- Summary of completed requests, including request type, requestor, operator, resolution, and cost
- Requests closed without completion and why
- Number of open requests and average age
- Number of requests with errors in categorization, assignment, and prioritization
Long-term success is measured by our ability to learn from both triumphs and failures. Access to accurate, reliable, and timely information is critical for the management of your organization, and the work order process is no different.
Taking the time to review the most common service requests can provide insight that further improves your efficiency. If you realize a significant percentage of service requests appear to be seasonal, you can schedule certain tasks to align with the changing of the seasons.
Or if you see that a certain technician is consistently falling behind on work orders, he or she might need more training.
Take the first step to smarter service requests
With a systematic coordination of your company’s tools, resources, and information, your facilities team can improve service request management and maximize productivity.
iOFFICE’s service request software makes it easy to manage preventive maintenance and on-demand work orders. You can dispatch requests to the appropriate maintenance or IT professional and notify them via email or text alerts.
And you can track important maintenance KPIs with easy-to-use dashboards.
Ready for a closer look? Request a demo today.