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The telco uses cloud-based field service software to optimize processes and reduce costs.
By Mitch Wagner | September 2020
Telekom Romania’s field service group is relying on business process automation and a makeshift reorganization to help protect its employees and customers from COVID-19, as part of a larger, multiyear modernization of the service organization.
In normal times, Telekom Romania’s 1,500-person field service organization meets daily in teams of 20 to 25 people in 50 offices across Romania, from which they fan out to customer sites. “Sooner or later they were bound to somehow get somebody infected,” says Andrei Popovici, chief officer of local sales and customer operations at Telekom Romania, which serves 8.2 million consumers and is one of three telcos in the country. “So we worked overnight to ‘atomize’ the teams.”
Now teams of only a few people meet in each of about 250 makeshift field offices the carrier has set up, Popovici says. That way, if there’s even a suspicion of one person on a team being infected, only the three or four people in that cell need to go into quarantine.
Meantime, Telekom Romania is using Oracle Field Service, part of the Oracle Cloud Customer Experience (CX) suite of applications, to get technicians the information they need to do their jobs—even when they’re unable to meet daily in larger groups. Telekom Romania leverages Oracle Field Service to distribute information on potential COVID-19 locations, based on public information and voluntary disclosures, so technicians can protect themselves.
Ten years ago, Telekom Romania’s field service organization ran like an old-time taxi company, as call centers filled with dispatchers moved technicians from one place to another via radio communications, Popovici says. The carrier knew it needed to improve the efficiency of its technicians’ 1.5 million to 2 million individual interactions with customers each year.
Oracle Field Service was important to that modernization, but Telekom Romania took the lead. Technology is a means to the end; the primary goal is changing business processes, Popovici says.
“You will not survive unless you are able to transform, serve customers faster, cut costs, teach your guys who are old how to deal with new stuff, and face a crisis like the pandemic,” Popovici says. “Oracle’s value to us is that it enabled us to run these transformations.”
“You will not survive unless you are able to transform, serve customers faster, cut costs, teach your guys who are old how to deal with new stuff, and face a crisis like the pandemic. Oracle’s value to us is that it enabled us to run these transformations.”
Romania, a country of 19 million people, presents logistical and demographic challenges for a nationwide field service organization. “You have sophisticated urban areas and economically challenged rural areas with hardly any tar on the roads,” Popovici says. Urban customers require appointments scheduled within a two-hour window, while rural customers just want to know what day you’ll arrive. “Being on time is sometimes a requirement and sometimes a problem,” he says.
Telekom Romania technicians also manage a range of different technologies in different areas. Urban areas are connected through reliable, high-speed fiber, while rural areas are still using older, slower copper connections that often stop working in the rain.
Using Oracle Field Service, Telekom Romania created “a super-tight” and “strongly automated” workforce management process to meet those challenges efficiently, Popovici says. At the same time, the carrier was able to cut its use of outside field service contractors by 60% in 2019—forecast at 75% by the end of 2020.
Fast response times are needed to keep customers satisfied in Romania’s highly competitive market, but such improvements often are accompanied by increased costs. That wasn’t the case for Telekom Romania, which was able to fix 70% of faults within 24 hours while reducing costs by 40%, Popovici says.
Automation also helped Telekom Romania onboard new technicians and get them up to speed quickly, which is especially important in a tight job market. Technicians are issued tablets connected to Oracle Field Service, Google Maps, the telco’s database of customer addresses, and all the other information they need to do their jobs. For new hires, automated processes delivered through the tablets replace a lot of face-to-face training.
With the help of machine learning built into Oracle Field Service, Telekom Romania has increased the percentage of service calls routed automatically. In some areas of the country, it routed 80% of calls automatically, with the remainder assigned by dispatchers, while in other areas only 20% were routed automatically. The telco was able to make that rate uniform, at about 80% nationwide.
Telekom Romania teams initially resisted the automated routing, given early inaccuracies. But after the telco instituted processes to ensure accuracy, the technology caught on, boosting field technicians’ productivity. “The machine takes all the inputs, runs an overnight process, and in the morning everybody finds their schedule on their tablet,” Popovici says. “The information is available to everyone who needs to see it, including the technicians and their department heads.”
Looking ahead, Telekom Romania wants to use Oracle Field Service’s machine learning capabilities to reroute drivers in real time, taking into account traffic, accidents, and other events that crop up.
Photography: Telekom Romania; Unsplash