The devastation from hurricanes put all field service workers on high alert. Many of these workers volunteer to assist in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Everyone pitches in to get beyond the initial shock and damage and move forward to a plan for rebuilding and restoring.
For the field service industry hurricanes and other natural disasters can inundate their customer service representatives with calls and requests to help in restoring and repairing damage once the danger has passed. Electricity may need to be restored, gas lines plugged, water damage repaired, and much more. HVAC, plumbing, electrical, construction and many other field service businesses can get hundreds and thousands of calls just days after a disaster.
Every field service business should have a plan in place to help in responding to disasters. While some of the work may be gratis just to get the community restored, it is still important to keep the business moving.
When putting together a disaster response plan your business should consider the following:
Have contact lists established so that you can check on your employees to make sure they are safe and determine their availability to help
Consider partnering with a remote answering service to handle overflow calls and route emergency calls to the right contacts
Establish rules ahead of time on what types of issues will be handled gratis and what calls should be handled as emergency service calls
Determine how much volume you can handle. Consider that you will probably have the ability to complete less than half the number of jobs that you normally complete in a day just because of the complexity involved with disaster restoration work
Consider establishing a partner agreement with other field service companies in order to share in the efforts and do referral work if needed
Understand that there is a significant emotional toll involved for your field service resources as well as your other employees and customers. Try to be sensitive while also attempting to get back to business as usual as quickly as possible.
Above all, having a rock solid system in place that can manage a peak number of requests as well as track the progress on your calls. A field service system will help to reduce the amount of phone calls that are made by allowing electronic notifications and communications through the system. Field resources can notify headquarters of their location and their availability electronically. Priorities can be assigned quickly with override capabilities if the dispatchers deem them necessary. Jobs can be noted as completed and the field resources can move to the next one quickly and efficiently.
A disaster can be extremely confusing and cause many businesses to completely lose focus. For the business health as well as the overall mental health of your workers it is important to have a plan in place to respond to disasters before they occur so that you will be prepared to help where needed. Then getting back to business as usual can be accomplished much quicker for your company and for your entire community to move beyond the storm.