Locate companies are under immense pressure to reduce damages and meet targets with limited budgets. Improving what you provide customers with can help close gaps that One Call / 811 don't cover, speed up projects and improve relationships. Utility locators can improve the deliverables they provide to customers in several ways:
- Timeliness: Providing timely deliverables is crucial for customer satisfaction. Utility locators should aim to complete their work within agreed-upon timelines and deliver the results promptly. Efficient scheduling and coordination can help ensure that customers receive the necessary information when they need it. This is easier said than done but there efficiency gains can be made through software implementation, automations, training and more. Investing in these can seem daunting but it's really an investment in your business which will streamline it for growth and please current customers. Here are some efficiency tools that my customers use: Geotab for vehicle telematics, UExcavate for dig window monitoring, Square for faster billing, Monday.com for scheduling & project management
- Clarity and Documentation: Clear and concise deliverables help customers understand the location and nature of underground utilities. Utility locators should provide detailed reports, maps, or digital records that clearly indicate the identified utilities, their depths, and any associated information. Including photographs, sketches, or digital overlays can further enhance clarity. Utilocate allows locators to quickly combine photos, digital sketches and maps with their locate forms to create a comprehensive locate package that can be forwarded to 811, the utility owner and the contractor. Having as much information as possible in an easy to read and access format is a valuable deliverable which helps every stakeholder involved and it looks more professional.
- Integration with GIS: Integrating utility locating data with Geographic Information Systems can greatly enhance the deliverables and help build a better picture of where their utilities lie. Interactive mapping like GeoMap is one way to do this, where you present your maps via an open source mapping engine like QGIS or you can sync up with the utility owners ESRI if they've got one. By providing customers with GIS-compatible files or preferably linking the utility information to existing GIS platforms, locators enable easier visualization, analysis, and integration of the data into customers' existing workflows.
- Training and Certifications: Utility locators should invest in ongoing training and certifications to stay updated with the latest industry practices and advancements. Continuous professional development enables locators to enhance their skills and knowledge, leading to improved deliverables for customers. This is one reason Mike Parilac from Staking University has been driving the industry towards a certified locator program - it sets a universal standard and creates value! If you were a contractor and could choose between a certified locator or an uncertified one, you'd probably choose the certified locator for peace of mind.
- Customer Feedback and Satisfaction: Actively seeking customer feedback and addressing any concerns or suggestions is vital for improvement.You can conduct customer surveys or feedback sessions to understand customer needs better and identify areas for improvement in deliverables. For example I had a customer that was providing reports and data to their customer but they didn't have the technology or expertise to understand the data. So instead they scheduled a monthly meeting where they could share the data via zoom and communicate KPIs in a more personal manner. A deliverable isn't good if it never gets received, so going that last mile and ensuring it gets there is invaluable for both damage prevention and relational success.
By focusing on these aspects, you can enhance the quality, reliability, and usefulness of the deliverables (GIS data, locate reports, utility info etc) you're providing to customers, leading to improved customer satisfaction and better overall service.
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