Aside to multiple pilferages happening in the after-sales service operations, one common yet ill-unattended problem is of Service Moonlighting. Although moonlighting is considered to be unethical in the industry, yet it is a prevalent practice among service engineers in the developed as well as developing economies. While Moonlighting engineers discreetly indulge in a second job, after working hours and sometimes even during their working hours, the companies that hire them to render service and collect revenue on company’s behalf have to suffer a substantial burn on their bottom-line.
Most of these companies, despite knowing about the pilferage and revenue loss due to moonlighting in the service, struggle to prevent such practices. In this small write-up, we shall highlight the scenarios that are favorable to Moonlighting in field service industry and some effective ways to deal with this malpractice:
Widespread in On-Site / Field Service Industry- Moonlighting has become a way of life especially in Onsite/Field service industry. This is typically because in a Walk-In service scenario, technicians/engineers cannot go out of their ambit to tell the customer to deal offline. Since they cannot, literally, move out of their office premises, chances of Moonlighting decreases. While in a field service job, the technicians have great liberty to present a particular call as broken and deal to it later on personal basis and pilfer company revenue.
To explain this using a practical instance, a service engineer scheduled to repair your air-conditioning unit or washing machine on behalf of the company may just identify the problem at the customer’s site and mark it as broken call on the work order; while he may ingeniously carry forward the same call after normal working hours, or offer the customer to fix it at a much discounted price than the company offers and complete the work without creating a work-order.
More yet, if the companies do not have an established tracking system in place that manages the spare part inventory; the Moonlighting Engineers can even use companies’ spares unethically and cause substantial loss instead of any profit.
Moonlighters more than often work from home, or from customer’s home – no overheads and no taxes involved. On the flip side, the company pays them salaries, incur their expenses and in return it realizes that they have eaten out company’s profitability! Moving ahead, here are few steps on how to deal with them:
Eradicate the root-cause behind Moonlighting – Many moonlighting engineers in The 1995 Survey of Work Arrangements admit that they don’t do it because they want to steal company revenues, but because they don’t get evenly paid. Service engineers are the face of the after-sales business and hence you may devise salary plans that are commensurate to employees’ skills and work experience. Occasionally, you may also distribute some bonus & performance based incentives for service technicians. When they would be paid satisfactorily at work, chances of moonlighting may decrease.
Random Customer Satisfaction Feedback- Customers may not always come to know that the technician who visited them, wearing company’s ID badge in his pocket has actually moonlighted. Companies can get it checked by circulating questionnaires to customers and ensure whether the job was done to their satisfaction; any spare part was replaced or not; and if the customer had signed the work-order. Carrying this idea forward, companies may even register random test calls to some of the recently serviced customers and check whether their technicians indulge in moonlighting or not.
Standardized and proven system for monitoring real-time field service activity- Implementing a service management system that captures real-time activity of on-field service technicians can be a sensible and effective solution to the gripping problem of moonlighting in field service. The technicians can be asked to record their daily movement in the field and their repair/service time can be captured in the system, and defaulters can be encouraged through better and strict HR policies and action. Service Management system can provide a one-stop window to the top management to track and control SLA and other related factors. With Repair Management Systems like this, you may never have to lose sight of repair TAT, returned-to-bench (RTB) products, and product replacements done, warehouse stock and service technician’s efficiency.
Are moonlighters taking away a substantial portion of your after-sales service revenue? Are they committing to infidelity by cheating you and eating up your profitability? It is the right time to get rid of this nagging problem with the help of possible solutions discussed above. Many companies from industries like Home Appliances, Electric & Electronic Appliances, Power Conditioning, Power Storage and similar more have achieved huge benefits of implementing end to end service management system to eradicate the pilferage and moonlighting practice in field service, it may now be your turn to reduce the revenue-loss and embrace a streamlined approach to generate more revenue from your after-sales service operations.