Field Service is evolving in front of our eyes. Aly Pinder, Senior Research Analyst at Aberdeen looks at what we need to do now to embrace the future…
Many things aren’t as they were for your father or grandfather. Technology moves at such a rapid pace that even I have lost track as to what is the latest and greatest social media platform that has revolutionised the internet, or at least the lives of teenagers.
Even though it is easy to dismiss either end of the technology spectrum – should our business jump at the latest trend or will we save money and heartache by staying the course that was paved by our legacy systems back in the early 2000s?
Both strategies have their faults and may lead to hard times, but I propose there is a middle ground that is necessary for field service.
As much as we would all like to bury our heads in the sand and not accept that the world around us is changing, field service has evolved.
Customers expect better service every day, management has seen the light in regard to the value (i.e., profitability) that field service can drive, and our service teams are getting older and are deciding to move on. So why hasn’t field service adapted?
Why are we so reluctant to change as the winds around us continue to sway.
Partially it’s because changing a global network which has become accustomed to doing things a certain way is difficult. Also, no one wants to be wrong, this is our livelihood. But we can no longer sit back and let the rest of the technology world pass the field service industry by as we move in 2015 and beyond.
Not only have customers changed, but almost as importantly the field service technician within your businesses is changing and service leaders must begin to react to keep and hire the next wave of field service heroes. This isn’t easy, but below are three trends which will play a big role in the success of organisations as they move into the future of field service:
Use the tools that make your techs more productive.
As more and more millennials enter the field service workforce, organisations must begin to adapt to their preferences and strengths. In Aberdeen’s recent research report, Emerging Workforce in the Field: Tech-Savvy to Technician (December 2014), the average age of the field worker was 32 years old with approximately one fifth of the workforce under 30.
This isn’t quite a wave of millennials just yet, however a top challenge for many organisations is the ageing workforce and retirement. Why wait to adapt to the changing needs of your workforce?
Despite the (negative) buzz, millennials aren’t that different from previous generations. But they have grown up in an age which they have always had access to the internet and a connected device. They expect to have this capability at work too. Organisations that provide these workers with the latest technology, much of which is moving towards a more consumer look and feel, will have a better chance of hiring the best of the next crop of technicians.
BYOD is not dead in field service.
The wave of excitement for BYOD (bring your own device) has waned a bit since the thoughts of this strategy revolutionising IT. Concerns around security, device proliferation and management, and a decrease in productivity led some organisations to turn away from BYOD.
However, as seen in Aberdeen’s BYOD: A Flood of Devices in the Field report (December 2014), nearly two-thirds of top performing companies currently leverage some level of BYOD within their field service operation.
These top performers found that this strategy had no negative impact on key metrics such as SLA compliance and service margin, while slightly improving employee satisfaction. And as we all know, happy employees make happy customers.
Create the right incentives to drive the right behaviours in field service delivery.
As customer expectations as to what great service is continues to change, the field service team also needs to evolve. No longer is it good enough to just show up within a four or two hour window, resolution is the name of the game for many customers. Furthermore, the way organisations are differentiating in this 21st century economy is through service, and the quality of service being provided.
This may seem like marketing or consumer jargon, but even in B2B environments customers have begun to expect a heightened experience and more value-add services.
This is both a threat, but also an opportunity for the savvy service organisations that adapt to this changing environment and ensures that technicians aren’t only showing up to turn a wrench, but are equipped to solve customer needs.
The field service environment is not stagnant. However, too often organisations work under the mindset that customers will not leave, profitability will continue to grow, and technicians will always do the right thing. The challenge many organisations are facing as we enter 2015 is that the status quo will not be acceptable, and the field service organisation will need to evolve in order to excel.
The opportunity is still great, but the leaders will do well by adapting to the needs of their customers and technicians.