As European service continues to modernise, service executives gather to envision the future and share successes in Amsterdam this October. On the heels of its American counterpart, Field Service Europe promises a collaborative look at the greatest issues and opportunities specific to European service operations in 2015 and beyond.
Service, powered by developments in technology and technician training, is being redefined as a profit centre for companies as well as a key differentiator in markets where competitors may otherwise offer similar products and value propositions.
This year, Field Service USA 2015 saw a robust turnout of executives from diverse industries, with discussion focusing on the role of technology in relation to technicians, and how both will continue to evolve symbiotically towards ever-greater efficiency and a preventative maintenance paradigm. Now, as European heads of service prepare to meet in Amsterdam this October for their counterpart conference, Field Service Europe, the discussion will continue along similar lines with an added focus on emulating the ability of American operations to transform into profit centres.
In 2014, 7% more American companies than European companies reported that their service operations were profit centres
Bringing a value driving approach to European service will demand a restructuring of how companies envision their operations. As opposed to a historical approach to service, espousing a “get in, and get out” mentality that emphasises speed in response to malfunctioning products, new technology is increasingly supporting a preventative maintenance approach, and thus freeing up time for service calls that emphasise relationship building and preventative maintenance to minimise the possibility of downtime.
The greater the ability to surprise and delight customers with a heightened standard of service, the more the door is left open for technicians to adopt a consultative role, identifying complementary services for customers.
This relationship building element is being recognised as a key piece of collateral when it comes to not just making more sales to customers, but actually identifying and unlocking value around solutions that are applicable to their wants and needs.
Training technicians to serve as scouts for sales will play a role in unlocking the revenue generating value of service for European companies. Going forward, defining the trainings that will be necessary to ensure that technicians can meet these new requirements will be a process heavily influenced by the relative levels of technology supporting these workers in the field. With a greater emphasis on mobile support and remote diagnostics, it becomes considerably more feasible for a new breed of customer facing technicians to thrive in the field while delivering the same, or higher quality service that customers expect.
Exploring the changing role of the technician as it is influenced by technology
As machines become more communicative, and mobile and remote diagnostic technology provides more support in the field, the role of the technician is set to change in response. In many operations, a bifurcation of the role may occur, wherein less experienced technicians trained for the “soft skills” of interpersonal communication and relationship building are remotely supported by a class of master technicians, well versed in the higher level systems and communicative components of more advanced machines.
In others, a consolidation of roles is expected to occur. This means that technicians will be expected to support both a customer facing set of skills, and a high level mastery of technical systems. In both scenarios, a premium will be set on communication ability, which has historically been viewed as a less essential component of technician training. This change is reflective of the new focus being espoused by service operations at large; surprising and delighting the customer.
The nature of the European market, with its distinct blend of cultural preferences, places unique challenges in front of service executives
Defining Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in Europe, where cultural differences can vary greatly on a nation-by-nation, or even regional basis, presents significant nuance compared to servicing primarily domestic US markets. Within the scope of a reinvigorated customer focus, Field Service Europe’s agenda will connect the dots around how to create comprehensive picture of customer wants, and then address them in a preventative and proactive manner.
European service executives have an opportunity to use the technicians creating relationships on the ground, as well as the information being gathered constantly by smart, connected products,
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