In speaking with leaders of manufacturing, service and technology throughout the last several months, I’ve had many lively discussions around the innovative initiatives that they have already conducted in 2014. I’d like to share 4 key takeaways that have stuck with me.
#1 – The Internet of Service Things. The connected world of wearables, smart refrigerators, and intelligent Google cars have begun to impact the world of field service. We often bristle at trendy terms or buzzwords, but the internet of things was discussed quite often. But the conversations didn’t revolve around the awesome technology that enables machines to talk to other machines, instead the discussion centered around the value that information can play in enhancing service issue resolution. Organizations are looking to connected machines and devices to evolve field service from a reactive endeavor to a predictive solution for customers.
#2 – Find the Next Generation of Field Techs. We are all getting older every day, despite our best efforts to slow this inevitability. This is also the case when it comes to field service. As seen in Aberdeen’s recent field service research, one of the top concerns of organizations in 2014 is the aging workforce. The apprehension wasn’t a result of having to find another technician. The fear is due to the fact that technicians build relationships with customers and have gleaned a wealth of knowledge on equipment and parts which is difficult to replicate. Organizations must find ways to capture the many years of knowledge from technicians to prepare for the next generation of field workers. Also, organizations are looking to have older technicians move into consultative roles in the back office to help lessen the blow of losing them from field.
#3 – Techs don’t have to sell service, resolution speaks for itself. How can we drive new revenues for service? Some organizations have looked to have technicians actually sell additional services or communicate up-sell options to customers. This strategy doesn’t appear to be the future of the field service technician. During many sessions and discussions, service leaders highlighted how they had implemented new incentive programs for their technicians which created an environment collaboration with sales and the customer to identify fit, not pressure a future sale. Technicians are often trusted by the customer, and this relationship should not force the technician to be a sales executive but rather an advocate who can help identify additional value for the customer.
#4 – Pay attention to the customer journey with service. Customer expectations for better service have not subsided. Despite conversations around cutting costs, becoming more efficient, or driving new revenues, every discussion returned to ensuring that customer satisfaction was a priority. Field service plays an integral role in the service journey of a customer. Whether resolving a customer issue or interacting during a preventive visit, technicians often finds themselves in front of customers with the opportunity to solve problems. Many service leaders noted ways that they can actually highlight the value of service and not let all the hard work of the field team go unnoticed, both within the organization and with the customer.
Events are always the best way to gather leaders, think outside the box, and share best practices. Often times we think of field service as a function that hasn’t really innovated beyond mobile technology advancements. However, many service leaders continue to discuss how their organizations are making the field the innovative arms of their organizations to drive profitability, enhance the customer experience, and ensure service was efficiently managed.
Receive your free copy of Field Service 2014: Access to the Right Information Empowers a Results-Driven Workforce