Copperberg hosted 100+ field service leaders from across Europe and cross-sectors within the manufacturing industry at its 2nd Annual Field Service Forum, which took place in June at the Sheraton Amsterdam Airport. Thomas Igou, Editorial Director for event producer Copperberg gives us his personal overview of how the two day event took place…
The conference was preceded by two pre-event workshops that focused on core aspects of a successful Field Service business. The mobility workshop, hosted by Marc Tonen, Pre-Sales Consultancy Manager EMEA at Astea, delved into how to best integrate mobility solutions to create a mobile workforce that will enhance the value of your service offerings to your customers. As many manufacturers are planning to or are currently rolling out mobility solutions, this was an essential topic to be discussed, and one that would be further covered during the rest of the conference.
The second workshop was hosted by Jim Baston, President of BBA Consulting Group, and covered an ever growing topic in field service today: the technician’s role in pro-active business growth in order to go beyond great service. In other words, how to develop the soft skills of field technicians they can lay the groundwork for up-sells or customer retention. Considering the amazing reaction to Jim’s workshop, it is clear that for many field service businesses, technicians are more than maintenance experts. They are the first pawns in the battle of creating long lasting relationships with customers.
Service Mastery Day
The conference officially kicked off with a new and highly appreciated feature: the Service Mastery Day. The three hour seminar from Chris Daffy, a renowned customer service specialist from the UK, covered the key aspects to building exceptional customer loyalty through field engineers. Chris is a very charismatic speaker who is not afraid to use humor to put forth his message, built from years of experience working in customer service, as well as research from professionals and academics into the topic. The result was a refreshing presentation on the art and science of customer loyalty building, why a balanced brain approach is essential for building sustainable customer loyalty, and the engineering excellence principles and tools that are equally effective in engineering customer loyalty.
Following the Service Mastery Day, participants joined for a long evening of structured networking, always one of the highlights of Copperberg events. Delegates, speakers and partners were able, prior to the event, to schedule one-to-one meetings to ensure making the most out of the event and creating long lasting professional contacts. The evening featured different activities such as a mingling drink reception, elevator pitches from some of the partners, and an inspirational session from Motivational Coach Malcolm Larri. Participants were then invited to a very relaxed dinner banquet where they were also treated to a magic show.
The main conference day offered participants a wide array of formats, from morning masterclasses, keynotes, industry-driven and technology-driven executive circles, and parallel tracks of focus sessions meant to challenge them to not only learn, but also share. There were three key themes that floated around during the event: global workforce, smart services, and operational efficiency.
Further to Jim Baston’s introductory workshop on the development of a technician’s soft sales ability, many sessions focused on talent and the workforce needed for a successful field service. ServiceMax’s morning masterclass, held by Patrice Eberline, best resumed the reason behind why this topic is of great importance: 40% of service technicians are over the age of 40, and 60% of companies are understaffed in their technical and highly skilled positions, meaning that the service industry has a looming talent problem.
There were also many discussions during networking breaks and executive circles on the underestimated importance of good leadership, as field service is by definition a people business, and people crave for good and inspiring leadership. Another session that stood out was from Brian Dahl Thomsen, Head of Operations and Regional Support for Siemens Wind Power, who shared his views on the needed competencies to be a service technician. Brian developed on Siemens Wind Service’s method of analyzing what competencies are need to cope with the environment of their products, the technology as well as the logistics aspect. Finally, they ensure to have the right approach on a management level to cope with talent management by setting clear target and objectives and investing in the right training methods.
Another hot topic at the event was how to develop smart services, such as predictive maintenance. A lot of manufacturers are currently looking into IoT, and how M2M/Big Data can help them improve their service business. One session from Magnus Sävenäs, VP Customer Service, Head of Global Field Service & Training at ABB Robotics gave an insight on how to use the latest technology trends to improve your business. The session focused on how to run a data driven organisation with the motto, “easy to buy, easy to service”. Magnus explained the five pillars for this: installed base data, organisation, remote service, customer access to information, and knowledge management.
The highlight of the third track was a great case study from Andre Skerlavaj, Director Global Service Strategy for Pentair Valves and Control. His session focused on their PRONTO project, a holistic approach to increased service levels. PRONTO is a cross-functional approach that was developed to ensure streamlined processes and smooth execution from service scoping through to international service delivery. The rest of the track also featured interesting sessions from Brick, on how to make heroes of your service sales team, and Elektrobit Wireless, on how to conduct a successful mobility project.
The event was also a great showcase of the latest technological developments that support field service activities. Mobility was of course a big part of the event as more and more organizations understand the necessity to connect their front line (field service technicians dispersed all over the globe) to the back office. Through focus sessions, case studies, and roundtable discussions, delegates were able to get a full spectrum of implementing mobility solutions, from the key challenges faced when mobilising business processes, how to achieve ROI, or even the possibilities with a mobile service sales tool. Another, more disruptive, technology that was discussed was Internet of Things (IoT). Mark Brewer from PTC gave an exciting keynote on the impact IoT will have on service operations by looking at breakthroughs in operational effectiveness and strategic differentiation. Staying on the theme of connectivity, there was a lot of buzz about wearables technology. XMReality were able to give a demo of wearable tech on the exhibition floor, while Måns Granholm, General Manager Process Development & Commissioning at Wärtsilä, gave a keynote on their use of Virtual Engineers in an augmented reality environment.
The closing keynote from Edmilson Toledo, Head of Global FSO Program at Ericsson, was one of the highlights of the event. Edmilson’s session focused on the networked society, and how digital technologies can transform field service businesses in a game changing way. The keynote covered mobility, and how Ericsson is using mobile phones as a tool available for all field technicians, as well as wearables smart glasses, which Edmilson feels is a market moving to maturity. Lastly, the session highlighted UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), also known as drones, as a tool to support technicians.
All in all, the event was an impressive gathering of industry leaders and solution providers. A lot of innovative ideas were thrown around by the participants either during the presentations, roundtable conversations, Q&A’s, or networking sessions, on how to grow the field service business.
The 9th Aftermarket Business Platform will take place October 21st-23rd at the Grand Hotel Huis Ter Duin in the Netherlands, gathering 200+ service leaders from global manufacturers. The theme of the event will be, Service Transformation: delivering value and differentiation to customers and will feature case studies from KONE, Zimmer, Scania, Emerson Process Management, ABB Power Generation, AGCO Parts, Hyundai Motor UK, Medtronic and many more. The event will be chaired by Rob Van Hove, CEO of Kuiken Group. For more information, visit: www.aftermarketeurope.com